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Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor of University of Winnipeg


by Rhonda Spivak, November 12, 2012

On November 22, 2012 Lloyd Axworthy is speaking at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Annual Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel on the  topic of  “Turning Downtown Winnipeg into a Hub of Creativity and Innovation: How Philanthropy Has Helped Pave the Way” [to get your tickets go to, or click on the advertisement on the right hand side bar of this page].

The first time I ever spoke to Lloyd Axworthy was a couple of years ago as editor of this publication, even though he was a household name in my family since I was a teen.
I have for many years now associated the name Lloyd Axworthy with downtown Winnipeg. He turned downtown Winnipeg into a hub for me. That’s because, if it weren’t for Lloyd Axworthy, I would never have spent a whole day  standing on the Midtown Bridge.

Let me explain. It was 1979, when I was in grade nine. My Uncle Sidney Spivak  resigned from the Manitoba legislature in 1979 (as Minister of Government Services in the government of Sterling Lyon) to run for the Progressive Conservative Party in the federal riding of Winnipeg-Fort Gary against Liberal Lloyd Axworthy.

I have only one memory of this election campaign. I and a few others stood all day on the  Midtown Bridge facing oncoming traffic going towards downtown with big signs that said “Back Spivak.” I don’t know who in the Spivak campaign team thought of that slogan. It’s funny thinking of it today since it sort of  sounds as if my uncle was running to be the head of a chiropractor’s association.  I don’t remember who else stood on the bridge with me all day—if any of the readers out there have information on this, please do write in and tell me. I know it couldn’t have been my sister Marly since she is eight years younger than me, meaning she would have only been in grade one, and I highly doubt my mother would have let her stand on a downtown bridge all day at that age. As for my brother David, I am going to have to call him and find out what if anything he did for the campaign.

I have a distinct memory that it was a very windy cold blustery day on that bridge and I was ready to pack it in hours before the task was officially over. My arms began to ache (try and spend all day holding your arms up!) but I continued to grasp that sign with proud determination. ( I do recall, by the way, that we didn’t get any snacks, there were no breaks and there was really nowhere close by to go to the bathroom either.)

People that were supporting my uncle honked as they drove by, or flickered their car lights on as it got darker towards evening.(It’s possible in retrospect that some of them were really Axworthy supporters tricking us).

Sometimes I think that if I had had longer arms such that the sign would have been more visible or I had been able to last a few more hours, it’s possible that my uncle would have won. It was a close election-he was narrowly defeated.

Needless to say, I have never spent any extended time on the Midtown Bridge since that day. And I'll probably think of that memory again while going over the Midtown Bridge on my way to hear Lloyd Axworthy speak at the Jewish Foundation luncheon. Afterall, we all have an interest in turning downtown Winnipeg into a hub of Creativity and Innovation and in promoting philanthropy.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.