David Asper, ICD.D, Q.C., Trustee
David Asper is a lawyer, business-person, philanthropist and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his community service. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, California Western School of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Management. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in June, 2019, currently serves as Chair of the Manitoba Police Commission and is a member of the board of The Forks North Portage Partnership. He recently retired as Chair of The Asper Foundation after serving a seven year term.
Mr. Asper has had a varied career and life experience.
Starting as a lawyer, Mr. Asper focused primarily on criminal defense litigation and successfully represented David Milgaard in overturning one of Canada’s most notorious wrongful conviction cases.
In business, following a career with Canwest Global Communications as a Senior Executive and Member of the Board, he established Sensible Capital Corp, through which he has developed a portfolio of private equity investments that he manages. He co-founded a consolidator of pharmacies in rural centres across western Canada and successfully sold the business in 2017 to a large private equity firm. Currently, Mr. Asper is the largest private sector investor in the Manitoba Technology Accelerator program, which supports the development and commercialization of life science-based businesses.
He has also invested in the Broadway revival of the Tony Award-winning musical Pippin, a London based critically-acclaimed and award-winning revival of The Scottsboro Boys and the Broadway revival of On the Town.
In addition to his business activities, Mr. Asper completed of his Masters in Law at the University of Toronto in 2007, and served as Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law. He has also taught at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin School of Law and Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Mr. Asper continues to lecture and write occasionally on legal matters, and has served on the various committees of the Law Society of Manitoba.
Through his philanthropy, Mr. Asper provided lead gifts to establish the David & Ruth Asper Research Centre at the Pan Am Clinic Foundation in Winnipeg and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto. The David Asper Centre has supported many of Canada’s recent leading cases involving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Together with his wife Ruth, they provided the lead gift to the Rady Jewish Community Center to establish the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre. David and Ruth, along with their children Daniel, Rebecca and Max have also provided the largest gift in the history of the Canadian Olympic Foundation up to 2019, supporting Canada’s Olympic athletes.
He established major endowments at the University of Manitoba to support the Faculty of Kinesiology and Bison Football Bursaries, the United Way Tomorrow Fund and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.
Select past community involvement includes: Chair, Winnipeg Police Board, Chair and Vice Chair of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Football League Board of Governors, Chair of the 2006 and 2015 Winnipeg Grey Cup Festivals, President of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Chair, CentreVenture, (Winnipeg’s Downtown Development Authority), Vice Chair, Pan Am Clinic Foundation, member of the Board of the Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Mr. Asper received the Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Medal from the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, an Award of Distinction from Destination Winnipeg, the Commissioners Special award from the Canadian Football League, the Chairman’s Special Award from the Winnipeg Football Club and is a proud member of the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.