Canada talks about Izzy Asper


THE DEATH OF Israel H. Asper has been felt far and wide and his loss is a great one to the Canadian broadcast industry, to Winnipeg, his many philanthropic ventures and, of course, to his family.

All of us at Broadcaster and Cablecaster magazines wish to extend our condolences to the Asper family.

His and CanWest's incredible story have been told many times in our magazines and the comments below reflect the impact Izzy Asper has made as a one-of-a-kind Canadian legend.

"He was a great Canadian. He will be very difficult to replace."
Prime Minister Jean Chretien, from The National Post.

"He was a mixture of opportunist, risk-taker and deal-maker. Not often do you find an entrepreneur who is also an intellectual. In my mind, that is what set him apart."
Former CanWest executive Peter Viner, from the Post.

"When Izzy Asper visited The Gazette last winter he smoked copiously, listened intently, argued enthusiastically and chuckled mischievously. The night before, he had given a provocative public assessment of journalistic sins in media coverage of Israel.

"His critics were in full splutter, but he found their reaction exhilarating. 'I had my say,' he said, 'Let them have theirs.' Then he looked around the room, in a building where smoking was prohibited by law, and asked pointedly: 'Don't you have an ashtray?'

"The moment was the man. When all about him were butting out, he lit his contrarian smoke and baited the hook for a good debate. Israel H. Asper lived a life of accomplishment but also spent his 71 years in pugnacious pursuit of the unconventional and the controversial. Even those whose feathers he so gleefully ruffled must admire the spirit that passed with his sudden death yesterday."
From today's Montreal Gazette editorial.

"He had an interest and a passion for music, for Canada, for the West, for Winnipeg, for Israel."
Jim Sward, a former president of Global Television, in The Globe and Mail.

"Izzy was a true Canadian Titan. He was a global leader in terms of his business vision, his remarkable philanthropy and his view of Canada in the world. He is the only individual who I ever met who described himself as a 'pathological Canadian'."
Canadian Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Glenn O'Farrell.

"You start with one word with Izzy: Passion Izzy was an original. There is never going to be another Izzy."
Ray Heard, a former head of Global News, from the Post.

"He was a jazz fan of the highest order. His knowledge was extensive. ... He truly had the most sophisticated taste in music… He was passionate about the music. He would talk about how truth and beauty were the integral parts of music, which comes from something that (jazz pianist) Bill Evans used to say."
Ross Porter, vice-president of programming for CanWest's COOL FM, COOL TV and COOL Records, from the Post.

"He is the only person who was allowed to smoke in my office. It was the only loophole in the smoking ban in this city. I don't think in Canadian history has any city had a champion like Winnipeg had in Izzy Asper. One of the things we must do is ensure his dream of this museum becomes a reality."
Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, from the Post.

"Mr. Asper, who died yesterday aged 71, is a case study in how peculiar twists of fate, blended with the intelligence and nerve of a larger-than-life personality, can leave a huge imprint on a country's cultural and political life."
Author and columnist Gordon Pitts in the Globe.

"Izzy Asper was a visionary, a patriot, a voice for Western Canada and a truly great Canadian. He will be missed."
Canadian Alliance MP Vic Toews, quoted in the Ottawa Citizen.

Despite Mr. Asper's strong attachment to his Canadian roots, some critics accused CanWest of relying on U.S. programs to enrich itself instead of promoting Canadian content. As far as Mr. Asper was concerned, though, critics missed the larger picture. He needed the revenues raised by such shows as Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier to accomplish another of his dreams: the creation of a third national television network that would be able to challenge CBC and CTV in all their central-Canada bias.
From today's Ottawa Citizen editorial.

And there was no area in which Mr. Asper was more prolific than in his charitable works. It would take an entire newspaper to document all of his philanthropic activities -- conducted largely through the Asper Foundation and the CanWest Global Foundation… Mr. Asper's legacy will live on. Most importantly, the effects of his good works will continue to radiate out from Winnipeg to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world.
From today's Vancouver Sun editorial.

"We're saddened to learn of the passing of Izzy Asper. He was a great entrepreneur, a brilliant competitor and a true original."
Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of Bell Globemedia.

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