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Former Premier Gary Filmon’s new book aims to give history a hand

Winnipeg -

From the signing of the Meech Lake Accord to the loss of the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 to the 1999 Pan American Games, there are countless moments in Gary Filmon’s over a decade-long tenure as Manitoba’s premier that endure.

Now, a new book by the former politician aims to give history a hand in setting the record straight on his time in the premier’s chair.

“People often say, ‘what were you thinking?’ This is the answer to that. It goes through the process of how we and government make decisions, and what are all the complications, what are the alternatives,” Filmon told CTV News.

Filmon’s new book titled “Yes We Did: Leading in Turbulent Times” chronicles his life growing up in Winnipeg, meeting his wife Janice, his work as a civil engineer, his transition into politics, and his post-political life.

The former premier told CTV News the inspiration for such a comprehensive retrospective of his life and career came from a Christmas present.

“About five years ago, when we asked one of our sons what the kids needed for Christmas, he said, ‘you know, someday I hope that you’ll sit down and you’ll write about your time growing up, about the family history and ultimately, your story,’” Filmon said.

“Two years ago, that’s exactly what happened. I ended up doing that to give the kids basically a little booklet at Christmas with black and white photographs and with the basic story of my family history and my early life.”

In “Yes We Did,” the basic story has been expanded and the black and white photos remain.

One of Filmon’s defining moments as premier chronicled in multiple chapters is the Meech Lake Accord – an agreement between the federal and provincial governments to amend the Constitution, strengthening provincial powers and declaring Quebec a distinct society.

“The pressure was great and the arguments, despite all the other fundamental causes they put forward, it really was about whether or not the country was about to fall apart, and I certainly felt that,” Filmon recalled.

“There’s no question that the Meech Lake Accord was a serious issue that had a lot of emotional appeal to people right across the country.”

Another watershed moment in Filmon’s tenure came when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona in 1996. The move resulted in a tumultuous and emotional response from fans. In the book, Filmon, a Jets supporter himself, recalls the scramble to raise funds to stop the move, and the vitriol that fell on him as efforts failed.

“Now, you would think that, ‘well, it’s only a hockey team.’ But it had such a part of our emotions here in Winnipeg and Manitoba and around that I actually received death threats during that period of time from people saying, ‘You can’t let the Jets go,’” he said.

While his career in politics is in his rear-view mirror, Filmon was still willing to give a piece of advice to Manitoba’s next premier, set to be named on Saturday.

“I would say that listening is really important, consulting, bringing together people to hear different ideas before you make important ideas,” he said.

“There’s nothing to beat listening to the people who really count.” Top Stories

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