Herb Gray

Herbert Eser "Herb" Gray PC CC QC (May 25, 1931 – April 21, 2014) was a prominent Canadian politician. He served as a Member of Parliament for Windsor West for four decades, from 1962 to 2002; and consequently he is the longest serving Member of Parliament in Canadian history. He also served as cabinet minister under three prime ministers, and as deputy prime minister from 1997 to 2002. He was Canada's first Jewish federal cabinet minister.[1] He is one of few Canadians granted the honorific The Right Honourable who was not so entitled by virtue of a position held.

Herb Gray

Gray in 2008
7th Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
In office
June 11, 1997  January 14, 2002
Prime MinisterJean Chrétien
Preceded bySheila Copps
Succeeded byJohn Manley
Leader of the Opposition
In office
February 8, 1990  December 10, 1990
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterBrian Mulroney
Preceded byJohn Turner
Succeeded byJean Chrétien
Member of Parliament for Essex West
In office
September 27, 1962  June 24, 1968
Preceded byNorman Spencer
Succeeded byriding dissolved
Member of Parliament for Windsor West
In office
June 25, 1968  January 15, 2002
Preceded byfirst member
Succeeded byBrian Masse
Personal details
Herbert Eser Gray

(1931-05-25)May 25, 1931
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
DiedApril 21, 2014(2014-04-21) (aged 82)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Sharon Sholzberg
ChildrenJonathan David
Elizabeth Anne
ResidenceOttawa, Ontario
Alma materMcGill University
Osgoode Hall Law School

Early life and education

Gray was born in Windsor, Ontario, the son of Fannie (née Lifitz), a nurse, and Harry Gray, who had a business selling yard goods. His parents were both from Belarusian Jewish families.[2] Gray attended Victoria School and Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor[1] before receiving a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1952 from McGill University.[3] He studied at Osgoode Hall Law School, where he received a Bachelor of Laws degree and was called to the bar, becoming a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.[4] On July 23, 1967, Gray married Sharon Sholzberg, also a lawyer. They had two children together: Jonathan David and Elizabeth Anne.[1]


Gray was first elected to Parliament for the riding of Essex West on June 18, 1962, as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada. He was re-elected in twelve subsequent federal elections, making him the longest continuously-serving Member of Parliament in Canadian history.[5]

Gray served in a variety of roles during his parliamentary career, including cabinet ministries and committee chairmanships during the Liberal governments of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, and as Opposition House Leader from 1984 to 1990.

From February 6, 1990, to December 21, 1990, he was Leader of the Opposition, between the resignation of John Turner as Liberal leader and the election to Parliament of his successor, Jean Chrétien.

When the Liberals returned to power after the 1993 election, Gray was appointed Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada. On June 11, 1997, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

Gray also retained an interest in provincial politics in the Windsor area. In 1996, he was named as honorary co-chair of Dwight Duncan's bid to the lead the provincial Liberal Party. Duncan had previously worked in Gray's office.

Retirement and death

Gray retired from Parliament on January 14, 2002, and was appointed Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission, a bilateral organization which deals with Canada-United States trans-boundary issues on water and air rights.

On November 28, 2008, Carleton University announced that Gray had been appointed as the university's 10th chancellor.[6] He died in hospital in Ottawa on April 21, 2014, aged 82.[7]


On January 15, 2002, then-Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson granted Gray the title "The Right Honourable", in honour of his distinguished and record-setting contribution to Canadian political life. In 2003, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, a designation which can be bestowed on only 165 outstanding Canadians at any given time, in recognition of being "an enduring force in Canadian politics".[8] He was a recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He received honorary degrees from the University of Windsor, Assumption University (Windsor), Catholic University of Lublin (Poland), McGill University, and the University of Ottawa, and Honorary Lifetime Membership as Governor #71 with Junior Chamber International Canada (JCI Canada).[1] In 2009, he became an honorary brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi.[9]

The upgraded Windsor-Essex Parkway has been renamed the Right Honourable Herb Gray Parkway.

Personal life

Gray was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1996 and recovered after radiation therapy. In 1999, he had an operation to treat a prostate condition unrelated to the cancer. In August 2001, Gray underwent valve replacement surgery to correct a heart condition he had known about for years.[7]

Electoral record

Essex West

1962 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray18,15245.55+11.25
Progressive ConservativeNorman L. Spencer11,01827.65−18.10
New DemocraticBill Tepperman9,77124.52+5.43
Social CreditRay Gagnier6491.63+0.77
     Co-operative Builders Edgar-Bernard Charron 261 0.65
Total valid votes 39,851100.00
1963 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray23,16556.14+10.59
Progressive ConservativeTom Brophey10,94626.53−1.12
New DemocraticTrevor Price6,26715.19−9.33
Social CreditRay Gagnier8842.14+0.51
Total valid votes 41,262100.00
1965 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray21,52556.12−0.02
Progressive ConservativeAustin Dixon10,29826.85+0.22
New DemocraticHugh Peacock5,73914.96−0.23
IndependentDon Armstrong4131.08
Social CreditJack Backer3790.99−1.15
Total valid votes 38,354100.00

Windsor West

1968 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray16,44254.06
New DemocraticStuart Ross8,97229.50
Progressive ConservativeWilliam J. Waldron5,00216.45
Total valid votes 30,416100.00
1972 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray17,96649.20−4.86
New DemocraticPaul Forder13,11035.90+6.40
Progressive ConservativeJohn Gunning5,44114.90−1.55
Total valid votes 36,517100.00
1974 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray19,47455.97+6.77
New DemocraticRon Seale10,63030.55−5.35
Progressive ConservativeBill McKay4,46612.84−2.06
Marxist–LeninistRay Greig2220.64
Total valid votes 34,792 100.00
1979 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray16,94348.56−7.41
New DemocraticMaxine Jones11,90634.12+3.57
Progressive ConservativeBob Krause5,86916.82+3.98
CommunistGerard O'Neill1020.29
Marxist–LeninistM. Villamizar740.21−0.43
Total valid votes 34,894 100.00
1980 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray19,75558.50+9.94
New DemocraticMaxine Jones9,78528.98−4.14
Progressive ConservativeNed Griffith4,10712.16−4.66
CommunistGerard O'Neill720.21
Marxist–LeninistMargaret Villamizar490.15−0.06
Total valid votes 33,768 100.00
1984 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray13,62440.55−17.95
New DemocraticPaul Forder11,50334.23+5.25
Progressive ConservativeMarty Goldberg8,15824.28+12.12
RhinocerosMartin X. Deck2320.69
CommunistMike Longmoore840.25+0.04
Total valid votes 33,601 100.00
1988 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray23,79656.24+15.69
New DemocraticPaul Forder12,14327.80−6.43
Progressive ConservativeBert Silcox6,13114.49−9.79
IndependentRobert Cruise1270.30
CommunistMaggie Bizzell1120.26
Total valid votes 42,309100.00
1993 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray27,00873.00+16.76
ReformBrett Skinner4,17911.30
New DemocraticEmily Carasco3,3599.08−18.72
Progressive ConservativeDan Friesen1,6634.49−10.00
GreenSarah Atkinson3951.07
Natural LawLarry Decter1380.37
IndependentBill Steptoe1280.35
Marxist–LeninistRobert Cruise930.25−0.05
AbolitionistRose Pope350.09
Total valid votes 36,998 100.00
1997 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray21,87755.20−17.80
New DemocraticTom Milne9,41123.74+14.66
ReformJeff Watson5,29513.36+2.06
Progressive ConservativeDan Friesen2,4526.19+1.70
GreenRichard Warman3981.00−0.07
Marxist–LeninistRobert Cruise1990.50+0.25
Total valid votes 39,632 100.00
2000 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHerb Gray20,72954.21−0.99
AllianceJeff Watson8,77722.95+9.59
New DemocraticJohn McGinlay6,08015.90−7.84
Progressive ConservativeIan West2,1165.53−0.66
IndependentChristopher Soda3040.80
Marxist–LeninistEnver Villamizar2290.60+0.10
Total valid votes 38,235100.00

Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.


26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
John Manley
Doug Lewis Solicitor General of Canada
Andy Scott
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
  Minister responsible for the Millennium Bureau of Canada
Special Parliamentary Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Doug Lewis Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Don Boudria
23rd Ministry – Cabinet of John Turner
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
cont'd from 22nd Min. President of the Treasury Board
Robert de Cotret
22nd Ministry – Second cabinet of Pierre Trudeau
Cabinet posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Don Johnston President of the Treasury Board
cont'd into 23rd Min.
Pierre de Bané Minister of Regional Economic Expansion
Ed Lumley
Robert de Cotret Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce
Ed Lumley
20th Ministry – First cabinet of Pierre Trudeau
Cabinet posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Bob Andras Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs
André Ouellet
Jean-Pierre Côté Minister of National Revenue
Robert Stanbury
  Minister without Portfolio
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sheila Copps
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Succeeded by
John Manley
Academic offices
Preceded by
Marc Garneau
Chancellor of Carleton University
Succeeded by
Charles Chi
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