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Memorable Manitobans: Roland Penner (1924-2018)

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Roland Penner
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Lawyer, educator, MLA (1982-1986), MLA (1986-1988).

Born at Winnipeg on 30 July 1924, son of Jacob Penner and Rose Shapack (?-1970), he served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. He received BA (1949) and LLB (1961) degrees from the University of Manitoba, was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1961, then taught law at the University from 1967. He taught constitutional law, criminal law, labour law, evidence, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from 1972 to 2009, and he acted as the Founding Chair and President of Manitoba’s new Legal Aid system from 1972 to 1978. He was made a Queen’s Counsel (1972).

Active in provincial politics, in November 1981 he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature representing the Fort Rouge constituency, being re-elected in 1986, and held the portfolios of Attorney General (1981-1987), Government House Leader (1981-1983), Chairman of the Treasury Board (1981-1982), Minister Responsible for The Liquor Control Act (1982-1987), Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (1983-1986), Minister Responsible for Constitutional Affairs (1986-1988), and Minister of Education (1987-1988). While in office he introduced the province’s first human rights legislation, as well as freedom of information legislation, and implemented legislation for French language rights. He was defeated in the 1988 general election and returned to the University where he taught until retirement in 2009, and was Dean of the Faculty of Law (1989-1994).

In recognition of his community service, he was inducted into the Order of Canada (2000) and Order of Manitoba (2014), and received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). He wrote A Glowing Dream: A Memoir (2007) that won a Margaret McWilliams Award, Tales From the Underworld and Other Stories (with Norm Larsen, 2009) and They Shoot Doctors, Don’t They? (with Jack Fainman, 2011).

He was married twice, first to Addie ? with whom he had three children. He later married Janet Baldwin and they had two children.

He died at Winnipeg on 31 May 2018.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 2018.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 January 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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