Joseph A. Ghiz

Joseph A. Ghiz

Served during the following dates: 1982-9-27; 1986-4-21; 1989-05-29

GHIZ, Q.C., LL.D., D.C.L., LL.M., HONOURABLE JOSEPH ATALLAH. lawyer, Crown prosecutor, law school dean, and judge; b. 27 January 1945 in Charlottetown, son of Atallah Joseph Ghiz and Marguerite McKarris; m. 16 December 1972 Rose Ellen McGowan, and they had two children, Robert and Joanne; Anglican; d. 9 November 1996 in Charlottetown.        Ghiz, a Liberal, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in the general election of 1982 for 6'1' Queens. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1986 and 1989. From 1982 to 1986, he was Leader of the Opposition, but in the 1986 general election he led the Liberals to victory, winning 21 of 32 seats. On 2 May 1986, Ghiz was sworn in as Premier and President of Executive Council. He was Minister of Agriculture from 26 October 1988 to 6 June 1989, and Minister of Health and Social Services 2 May 1986 to 12 June 1986. He was reelected premier on 29 May 1989. Ghiz also served as Minister of Justice from 1989 to 1993. On 30 October 1992, he announced his resignation from provincial politics, but remained Premier and Minister of Justice until 25 January 1993, when the party elected a new leader.        Ghiz, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, grew up in the apartment above his parents’ corner store in Charlottetown. The store was a neighbourhood hotbed of politics and debate, and it was there that Ghiz discovered his love of politics. Early in life, he became involved in the Liberal party. In 1977 he was elected its President and in 1981 its Leader. Ghiz’s prime asset, in his legal and political careers, was a flair for rhetoric. His quick intellect and oratorical skills were significant, and his speeches were impassioned. The Globe and Mail described Ghiz’s speaking ability: “For people who have never gone walking in a monsoon, listening to Liberal )oe Ghiz give a political speech would nicely simulate the experience.”        When Ghiz led the Liberals to victory in 1986, he became Canada’s first premier of non- European ancestry. During the election, a whisper campaign ensued regarding his racial heritage. When the issue began to be discussed by national and, finally, provincial media, he defused this argument by calling a news conference to address the issue. It was at this news conference that Ghiz made one of his most famous remarks: “I am Canadian and I am proud of it, I am an Islander and I am proud of it. I am a Canadian and an Islander of Lebanese extraction and I am proud of that as well.”        Provincially, Ghiz’s most significant accomplishment was his guidance of the process that led to the construction of the Confederation Bridge. In early 1988, with the fixed link debate in full swing on the Island, the Ghiz Administration held a plebiscite to determine Islanders’ view's on the issue. The population was debating whether or not to establish a fixed link with the Mainland to replace the Marine Atlantic terry service. The plebiscite, the first in the province since 1948, was held 18 January 1988, and 59.1 per cent of Islanders voted in favour of the fixed link.        Premier Ghiz was very popular with Islanders, but it was on the national stage that he found his niche. He participated in the constitutional discussions of Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord, and became a leader in this process. Ghiz’s pride in his country and his background in constitutional law combined to make him a passionate, articulate, and effective defender of Canadian nationalism.        The emphasis of Ghiz’s economic policy was to add value to the products of the province’s agriculture and fishing industry. Three large potato processing plants were constructed during his time in office. A major effort was made to expand tourism infrastructure, including golf course construction and the expansion of tourism accommodations.        The Ghiz government implemented a drug assistance program for seniors and a community hospital construction program. Significant renovations were made to schools in the Charlottetown area. His government had to cope with an escalating provincial debt, especially during the latter part of his second term when the national economy suffered a sharp recession. As a result, Ghiz instituted a government reform initiative.        Ghiz received his early education at West Kent School and Queen Charlotte High School. He subsequently attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. Ghiz then studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax w'here he earned a Bachelor of Commerce and a Law degree in 1969. While at Dalhousie, Ghiz was awarded the Barristers’ Society Scholarship for highest standing in his class. In1981 he earned a Master of Laws from Harvard University. Ghiz was admitted to the provincial Bar in 1970 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1984. From 1969 to 1972, he was a sessional lecturer in business law and, from 1974 to 1975, he was a lecturer in special courses in real estate law at the University of Prince Edward Island. Ghiz served as a federal narcotics drug prosecutor from 1970 to1979 and as Crown prosecutor for Queens County from 1970 to 1972. He was a partner in the firm of Scales, Ghiz, Jenkins and McQuaid. In 1987 he was awarded an honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Prince Edward Island and in 1996 an honourary Doctorate of Civil Laws from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec.        Following his time in provincial politics, Ghiz assumed the position of Dean of Law at Dalhousie University Law School on 1 March 1993. He was appointed to the Trial Division of the Prince Edward Island Supreme Court on 5 April 1995 by federal Justice Minister Allan Rock and was officially sworn into the position on 28 April. Ghiz served on the Supreme Court until his death.        Ghiz was a member of the board of governors of Frontier College and served as regional chair for the Canadian Council on Multiculturalism. He helped found the Montague Boys and Girls Club and was a member of the Charlottetown Jaycees. Ghiz served as president of the provincial branch of the Canadian Bar Association and was a member of the Canadian Bar Association Committee on the Constitution. In 1977 Ghiz served as president of the Liberal Party. Joseph Ghiz died 9 November 1996 of cancer and is survived by his wife, their children, and his mother.        Three days before his death, he voted in the provincial election in an advance poll. Upon his death, Islanders and other Canadians poured out their emotions for the former premier. He was honoured by his province and country with a state funeral, attended by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and sitting and former Canadian premiers.        Rose Ellen Ghiz, the daughter of Doug McGowan* and Elizabeth Margaret Watson, was born on 5 June 1953. Her father and uncle, Neil Murdock McGowan*, were members of the Legislative Assembly.

References: CPG 1993: CWW 1996 p. 443; ECO 617/88. ECO 295/89, ECO 255/ 86; MacDonald If You're Stronghearted pp. 352-5. 378-79; WWPEl p. 2; Guardian 5 February 1993, 8 January 1994, 6 June 1996, 11 November 1996, 29 August 2002; Globe and Mail 12 November 1996; Journal-Pioneer 29 April 1995. Guide to abbreviations

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