Manitoba

Anita Neville named next lieutenant-governor of Manitoba

"I'm very honoured that I will do my best to serve the community as best as I know how," said Neville in an interview Monday, one hour after the prime minister's office announced the news.

Former Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre appointed to role on Monday

A woman with brown hair wearing a white and black top is seated on a beige couch, leaning against brown and red pillows.
Anita Neville, a former Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre, will be Manitoba's next lieutenant-governor. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Anita Neville will be Manitoba's next lieutenant-governor.

"I'm very honoured that I will do my best to serve the community as best as I know how," said Neville in an interview Monday, one hour after the Prime Minister's Office announced the news.

"Ms. Neville has long been a champion for the people of her community, her province, and our country," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news release.

"As lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, I know she will continue to make a difference for Manitobans and Canadians."

Neville, a former Liberal member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, will be the first Jewish lieutenant-governor of Manitoba and the third woman to hold the position.

Neville was the MP for Winnipeg South Centre from 2000 until 2011, when she lost the riding to Conservative Joyce Bateman. She was an opposition critic for Indigenous Affairs and the Status of Women.

During her time on Parliament Hill, Neville was part of several federal committees, including those on national defence and citizenship and immigration. She was also chair of the committee for status of women and vice-chair of the Canada Israel inter-parliamentary group.

WATCH | Meet Manitoba's next lieutenant-governor:

Meet Manitoba's next lieutenant-governor

1 month ago
Duration 2:58
Anita Neville will be Manitoba's next lieutenant-governor, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday. She speaks with the CBC's Sam Samson about her hopes for the new position.

She spent more than a decade working in education, including as a member and chair of the Winnipeg School Division Board of Trustees.

Neville also has fought for equality for women in politics.

First Jewish lieutenant-governor in Manitoba

She currently sits on a board of directors for the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada and the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.

"It gives me great pride to do this," she said.

Neville teared up as she thought of her parents — her mother was born as her grandmother fled anti-semitism in Russia at 19 years of age.

"My brother phoned and said 'if there's a heaven, they'll be doing cartwheels in heaven.' They'd be very pleased and proud," said Neville.

The significance of a Jew in Government House isn't lost on other faith leaders in the Manitoban community.

"It illustrates the diversity of our community today in Manitoba compared to the days when these opportunities were only available to white Anglo-Saxon men," said Belle Jarniewski, executive director at the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.

Jarniewski said Neville is someone who many go to for advice, and she's led several projects such as a efforts to bring Yazidi refugees to Manitoba.

Neville kept details to herself on the types of projects she hopes to pursue, but she does have some topics in mind.

"I don't know what the capacity of the lieutenant-governor's office is, but I would like to focus on education with young people, with not-so-young people and areas of reconciliation," she said.

New appointment hinted last year

The current lieutenant-governor, Janice Filmon, hinted she'd leave the position in November during the speech from the throne.

"It's a combination of mixed feelings," said Filmon during an interview on Monday.

"Happy that somebody has been named, but a myriad of feelings."

Lieutenant-governor Janice Filmon delivers the throne speech at the Manitoba Legislature. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The two had a conversation earlier this month about the appointment, Filmon said. Though it's too early to give specific advice, Filmon said the key to being the lieutenant-governor is to listen and not to rush.

"What they do is encourage you, as a lieutenant-governor in any province, just find a topic or an area that you're interested in, and make it the centre of your mandate," she said.

"I chose leadership. I didn't want to be boxed in. I wanted leadership in whatever form it came in, from being in a brownie pack to running the world."

Filmon acknowledged it's a busy job, too.

"You get out there, and you get involved, and it could be 24 hours a day. You have to look after your own wellness," she said.

Other Winnipegger turned down position

Earlier this month, business owner Albert El Tassi told media he turned down the position after it was offered by the prime minister.

Neville said when she was offered the position, she talked it over with family.

"It's not something you say yes to right away. It's a big change in lifestyle," she said.

"I have to move out of here, my lifestyle and time that I can spend with family and my grandchildren. There are lots of considerations."

Though family support, she said, helped her say yes.

"It's not something I ever anticipated or expected," she said.

"I think being the representative of the Crown is an important position, and I think there are many facets to the job that have to be addressed. I want to do it well."

Premier welcomes Neville

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson welcomed the incoming lieutenant-governor in a statement on Monday, adding she believes Neville will be "formidable" in the role.

Stefanson thanked Filmon for her service, kindness and "unique ability to bring people together to learn and inspire the next generation."

The province will pick a start date for Neville.

The lieutenant-governor is the Queen's representative in the province. Neville will be responsible for opening legislative sessions with the speech from the throne, swearing in members of the executive council and giving all legislation royal assent before it becomes law in Manitoba.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Samson

Journalist

Sam Samson is a senior reporter for CBC News, based in Regina. She's a multimedia journalist who has also worked for CBC in Winnipeg and Sudbury. You can get in touch on Twitter @CBCSamSamson or email samantha.samson@cbc.ca.

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