Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Sidney Joel Spivak (1928-2002)

Lawyer, MLA (1966-1969), MLA (1969-1973), MLA (1973-1977), MLA (1977-1981).

Born at Winnipeg on 23 May 1928, son of Rose Portigal and Malick David Spivak, he attended Kelvin High School. In 1951, he graduated from the University of Manitoba Law School with the highest academic standing in his faculty, and went on to Harvard for his MA in Law. He was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1966.

He became active in the Progressive Conservative Party in the mid 1950s and was elected as the MLA for River Heights in 1966. Re-elected in 1969, 1973, and 1977, he served as Minister of Industry and Commerce (1966-1969), Minister Without Portfolio (1977-1978), Minister of Government Services (1978-1979), and as Leader of the Official Opposition from 1971 to 1975. He was a Progressive Conservative candidate in the 1979 federal general election but was defeated by Lloyd Axworthy.

Spivak had a distinguished community service record with B’nai B’rith, the Jewish National Fund, the Canadian Associates of Ben Gurion University, and the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he served as the National Chairman of the Canada-Israel committee, influencing Canadian policy in the Middle East. He served on the Board of Governors for the University of Manitoba, as well as on the Board of Directors for St. Boniface Hospital and was instrumental in bringing the city together to settle the Vietnamese boat people as Chair of Winnipeg’s Refugee Assistance Committee. He served as a board member of the Manitoba Theatre Centre and President of Rainbow Stage. In 1977, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.

In 1955, he married Mira Steele with whom he had two daughters and a son.

He died of a heart attack at Winnipeg on 8 July 2002.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Robinson House (703 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg)


“These Manitobans will help plan centennial,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1963, page 9.

“14 Manitoba lawyers are appointed QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1966, page 5.

“Tradition not for Mrs. Spivak,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 March 1971.

“It’s a great loss,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 July 2002, page 5.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 July 2002, page 40.

Jewish Post and News, 1 August 2002, page 18.

“They will never be forgotten,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2002, pages A8-A9.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

This page was prepared by Kris Keen and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 April 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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