Ray Hnatyshyn, of Ukrainian descent, was born the son of a Canadian senator in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He attended the University of Saskatchewan and practised law in that province until being elected to the House of Commons. He served as Conservative Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-area ridings from 1974 to 1988.
He was appointed as the energy minister under the Joe Clark government, and as house leader and justice minister under Brian Mulroney. Hnatyshyn was appointed governor-general on December 14, 1989, succeeding Jeanne Sauvé. He was officially sworn in January 29, 1990.
Hnatyshyn was largely responsible for popularizing the office of the governor general. He opened Rideau Hall, the governor general's official residence, to tourists in 1990, reversing Mme. Sauvé's security policy. He also opened the residence's skating rink to the public and hosted a rock concert to promote education.
He also established the Governor General's Awards for the Performing Arts in 1992.
The Jean Chrétien government named Senator Roméo LeBlanc as his successor, and Mr. Hnatyshyn completed his term on February 6, 1995. During his time as the Queen's representative, he was the well-liked, humorous official host to 26 Heads of State and made at least 1200 speeches.
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