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gerry schwartzBy MYRON LOVE
Former Winnipegger Gerry Schwartz and the late Israel Asper have much in common.

 

Both practised tax law - Schwartz articled with Asper, before going into partnership in the founding of CanWest Capital. While their paths diverged, both became enormously successful in business, both are (were) strong supporters of Israel – and both became world leaders in giving back to the community.

 

Schwartz, who was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by his alma mater, the University of Manitoba, in 2014, grew up in River Heights. In addition to his law degree from the University of Manitoba, he has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University (1970). In 1983, Schwartz founded Onex Corporation, serving as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Over the years, Onex has acquired hundreds of companies, including Beatrice Foods, Celestica Inc., and Loews Cineplex, transforming them into successful operations. Through his prodigious skill and leadership, Onex has grown into one of the world’s most respected private equity firms, with more than 146,000 employees worldwide and $24 billion in global revenue.
Through Onex, Schwartz has become one of the wealthiest people in Canada, accumulating a fortune that he and his wife, Heather Reisman (Indigo Books and Music stores), have been generous in sharing.
In 2013, the couple donated $35 million to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

The Gerald Schwartz School of Business at St. Francis Xavier University was named in his honour in recognition of his donations to the university. The gold, silver and bronze medals for top academic standing in the JD/MBA program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law are also named after him. Schwartz and Reisman are also among Canada’s largest financial supporters of Jewish charities and advocacy groups in Canada and Israel. In 2005, they started a scholarship program for IDF lone soldiers called the Heseg Foundation. In 2006, Schwartz made a donation to the University of Waterloo for an exchange program between that university and the University of Haifa.
They have donated millions of dollars to health, education, literacy, politics and human rights, driven by a strong sense of public service and responsibility to help those less fortunate. Schwartz has been a director, governor or trustee of many organizations, including the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, Indigo Books & Music, Mount Sinai Hospital and Harvard Business School.  Schwartz is a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and an Officer of the Order of Canada.