Concept

George Johnson (Manitoba politician)

Summary
George Johnson, OC (November 18, 1920 – July 8, 1995) was a medical doctor and is seen by historians as one of the leading political reformers of the twentieth century in Manitoba. He served as a Cabinet Minister in the governments of Dufferin Roblin and Walter Weir and as the province's 20th Lieutenant Governor from 1986 to 1993. Johnson was born in Winnipeg, to a family of Icelandic heritage. He received a B.Sc. and M.D. from the University of Manitoba and served as a Lieutenant (later, Captain) with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1941 to 1945. Johnson was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in 1958, for the riding of Gimli, north of Winnipeg. A Progressive Conservative, he was appointed Minister of Health and Public Welfare in the minority government of Dufferin Roblin, who had personally recruited him to run for the party. He retained the health portfolio when the Progressive Conservatives won a majority government in 1959, and oversaw a policy of major hospital expansions in the province and other significant reforms between 1959 and 1963. On December 9, 1963, Johnson moved to the Ministry of Education as the government sought to cope with the educational requirements of a rapidly expanding baby-boom population. He held this position until September 24, 1968, and was responsible for, among other achievements, the establishment of the universities of Winnipeg and Brandon, respectively, and the Manitoba Institute of Technology (later 'Red River Community College'), and for introducing the policy of "shared services" for public and separate schools (allowing children in separate schools to access public programs for busing, textbooks and the like). In 1968, Johnson returned to his old portfolio as Minister of Health, to oversee an historic change in the provision of medical services: the implementation of medicare in Manitoba. Ideologically, Johnson was a progressive, often referred to as (somewhat erroneously) a Red Tory with beliefs similar to those held by Premier Roblin.
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