Israel Asper (1932-2003)

Israel Asper

Year Born: 1932

Year Died: 2003

Year of Induction: 2003

Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Asper, Israel Harold “Izzy”, Q.C. (1932-2003)

Entrepreneur I.H. “Izzy” Asper, Executive Chairman, CanWest Global Communications, entered broadcasting in 1974, when he and partner Paul Morton were awarded a licence to operate CKND-TV in Winnipeg, after they had purchased a small U.S. television KCND, Pembina,North Dakota, and moved it to Canada.  As CanWest Global Communications, the company grew to embrace the Global Television System in Ontario; CH-TV Hamilton; STV, Regina; STV, Saskatoon; UTV, Vancouver; CIHF-TV1, Halifax/Dartmouth and CIHF-TV2, Saint John, as well as TV operations in Australia and New Zealand.

 Izzy was born in Minnedosa, Manitoba on August 11th 1932.  Prior to becoming involved in broadcasting, he spent several years in the legal profession in Manitoba. A law graduate of the University of Manitoba, he was called to the Bar in 1957, and founded Asper, Freedman & Co., in 1959. From 1970 to 1975, he was the Leader of the Liberal Party in Manitoba, and was elected twice to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

Izzy served on the boards of several leading companies as chairman, and participated in a wide variety of community services and charitable and philanthropic undertakings. Over the years, he was the recipient of several awards – notable among them, in 1992, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Gold Ribbon Award for Broadcast Excellence; in 1979 the University of Manitoba Alumni Jubilee Award for the “Outstanding 25-Year Graduate”; in 1993 the B’Nai Birth International Award of merit. In 1993 he established The Asper Foundation, a Canadian charitable organisation for philanthropic donations. 

Izzy became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995, was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in the same year, and entered the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1996. He was inducted into the Order of Manitoba in 2000.

In 1999, his son Leonard was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer, with Izzy becoming Executive Chairman, a post he held until January 2003, when he retired to look after his philanthropic commitments.

In 2000, the Asper family’s deal-making included the $3.2 billion purchase of the Southam newspaper group, the National Post newspaper and other assets from Conrad Black’s Hollinger Inc.

Izzy died October 7, 2003 in Winnipeg, survived by his wife Babs, sons David and Leonard, and his daughter Gail.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – July, 1997