Saul Mark Cherniack (born January 10, 1917 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a lawyer and politician. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1962 to 1981, and served as a cabinet minister in the government of Edward Schreyer. He is also a member of the Privy Council, the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba.
Cherniack's father, J. Alter Cherniack, was a prominent member of Winnipeg's Jewish community and leading supporter of the Independent Labour Party and Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in the city's north end.
Cherniack was educated at the University of Manitoba (receiving a law degree in 1939), and was active in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and in the Jewish community of Winnipeg. He began practicing law in 1940. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the Intelligence Corps of the Canadian Army as a Japanese language specialist, reaching the rank of Captain. After the war, he practiced as a barrister and solicitor. He was a trustee on the Winnipeg School Board from 1950 to 1954, a councillor in the Town of Winnipeg Beach in 1958-59, a Winnipeg alderman in 1959-60, and a councillor on the Metropolitain Corporation of Greater Winnipeg from 1960 to 1962.
He was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1962 provincial election, in the north-end Winnipeg riding of St. Johns. He was re-elected in the elections of 1966, 1969, 1973 and 1977, each time by a significant margin.
In 1968-69, Cherniack was a key figure in the provincial NDP calling for Edward Schreyer to replace Russell Paulley as party leader. He initially considered challenging Paulley himself, but declined, reportedly on the advice of NDP research advisor Doug Rowland. Many believe that Cherniack declined to run because of concerns that a Jewish party leader would not have been acceptable to the general public in the late 1960s. (Russell Doern once quoted Cherniack as saying "I do not believe that Manitoba is ready for a Jewish Premier" in announcing his decision to others in the party.)
When Sidney Green challenged Paulley for the party leadership in late 1968, Cherniack and seven other MLAs agreed to support Paulley on condition that he stand in favour of Schreyer the following year. This occurred, and the NDP under Schreyer were able to form government following the 1969 election.
On July 17, 1969, Cherniack was appointed provincial Minister of Finance. He was also given the Urban Affairs portfolio for a brief period in 1970, and was responsible for amalgamating the suburbs and inner city of Winnipeg into one large municipality, the first such unification in North America. He remained one of Schreyer's most trusted confidantes throughout the 1970s.
During his time in office, Cherniack was respected for his intellectual rigour and integrity, and was known as one of the most dignified members of the Manitoba Assembly. Cherniack resigned the finance portfolio on November 13, 1972, but returned to office on May 2, 1973. He resigned a second time in January 1975.
When Edward Schreyer resigned as party leader in 1979, Cherniack offered to serve as interim leader until a party convention could be held. He set a number of conditions to this offer, however, and many in the party believed that he was trying to secure the leadership for either himself or Wilson Parasiuk. At a caucus vote, Cherniack received only three votes for the position of interim leader: his own, and those of Saul Miller and Laurent Desjardins. Howard Pawley, the successful candidate, subsequently named him as the party's Deputy Leader.
Cherniack did not seek re-election in the 1981 election. After his retirement from politics, he became Chair of Manitoba Hydro, and served a member of the Security Intelligence Review Commission overseeing Canada's secret service from 1984 to 1992. He was sworn in to the Privy Council of Canada on November 30, 1984.
Cherniack has also served as National Vice-President of the Canadian Jewish Congress. He retired from his legal practice in 2000.
In the 1999 provincial election, his son Lawrie Cherniack ran for the NDP in Fort Garry against Joy Smith, and lost by only 30 votes.
In 2003, he supported Bill Blaikie's campaign to lead the federal New Democratic Party.