House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Windsor West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Right Honourable Herb Gray March 13th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the members of this House through their applause show that those words ring as true today as they did when they were spoken by Laurier almost 100 years ago.

I have already gone on to another challenge as chair of the International Joint Commission.

I am now the chair of the International Joint Commission, which deals with the important issues that have interested me throughout my years of public life.

Yes, the International Joint Commission deals with great issues and questions that have concerned me throughout my public career: the relations between Canada and the United States; the management of our shared border from the Pacific to the Atlantic; the preservation and quality of the waters forming that border and across that border; the elimination of what is threatening our future and those of our children, transboundary air and water pollution.

We are rightfully focusing on winning the fight against terrorism, but we are doing it for reasons of maintaining and extending our freedom and that of other people in the world and for reasons of maintaining, strengthening and preserving the quality of life for ourselves and our grandchildren. This means putting a priority on the improvement, the strengthening of our human and natural environment.

I want to say by way of conclusion that I am very pleased to have left this wonderful place at a time when my skills are strong and evident, and I thank God for this, so that I can apply them in the challenges that I have mentioned and in the spirit of the words of Tennyson in his great poem Ulysses when he said:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! Some work of noble note may yet be done.

I hope to have that opportunity for you and all Canadians. I conclude with further words of Tennyson from his great poem, Ulysses. He said:

I am a part of all that I have met, Though much is taken, much abides; That which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, ...strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I urge all of you to continue your work here in this House and with all Canadians so that together you will strive to seek, to find, and not to yield in building an even better Canada in a much better and peaceful world.

Thank you very much, merci beaucoup.

Right Honourable Herb Gray March 13th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I must begin by saying that today is an exception to my usual practice. I have to tell you I accept the premise of each and every word spoken in the House today.

I want to thank the House most sincerely for this unique honour bestowed upon me today in allowing me to be in the House of Commons when it is in session, inside the bar of the House, and to be able to speak even though I am no longer a member.

I must say that I am delighted that none of the people who have spoken have ever had to join me outside the bar of the House for words spoken or not spoken but, as I said, I appreciate their remarks very much and I appreciate very much the honour bestowed upon me.

I have to thank the constituents of Windsor West, the people who elected me 13 times in a row, the people who saw something in me beyond the fact that I was the standard bearer for a party and a leader. I have to thank the hundreds and hundreds of people who came forward to work with me to help me get elected and re-elected, people young and old, new people who were not around when I first ran only yesterday.

I must also say that I owe so much to my family for their love and support, particularly my wife and children, because what they have done has made this record of achievement possible.

I have to say that my family life was not interrupted or turned aside by my political life. It actually grew out of my political life. It was inspired by my political life.

I have to mention just one evidence of this, and that was only yesterday in 1964. I met the lady who was to become my wife at a young Liberal Party reception in room 209 of the West Block.

I want to propose here today, and perhaps I can make a formal motion since I am already inside the bar of the House, that the commissioners of internal economy agree to put a plaque on the wall of room 209 of the West Block to mark and recognize that historic occasion because, as my wife always said, things started happening for me only after we got married.

I want to go on to thank the people I worked with in the Liberal caucus and the Liberal Party. They have not only been colleagues but friends. I also want to recognize the friendship of people on the opposition side of the House. I want to thank them particularly for giving me such wonderful raw material to use in my answers and my speeches.

They were a great help to me in my efforts to support the government. The Bloc Quebecois, for example, supported Canadian institutions most actively, and I must thank them before I leave.

I cannot give examples of what I am talking about in terms of raw material, but actually it is only a rumour that I did not answer the questions. I answered them but the opposition parties were not willing to listen.

I want to thank the Liberal prime ministers who enabled me to work on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of all Canadians as a member of their cabinets. I want to pay special tribute to the Prime Minister, the member from Shawinigan, for asking me to become the first full time deputy prime minister and allowing me to give meaning and substance to something that before was only a title added on to another responsibility.

I am very proud of the fact that because of the support from the Prime Minister in my giving meaning and substance to the position when my successor was announced it was considered and is a great promotion.

I am also proud of the fact that I occupied a premier parliamentary post as leader of the opposition. I thank my colleagues of that day, for example the current Liberal caucus chairman and the Right Hon. John Turner, for that. I also have to thank the Governor General for the rare distinction of being named the right honourable. Being named the right honourable in our system is quite marvellous.

I want to say that in serving as leader of the opposition, in serving as the first full time deputy prime minister, I did so as someone who is the first generation of his immediate family to be born in Canada. My parents came to this country from Eastern Europe, from Belarus, as Jewish immigrants in search of freedoms and opportunities not available to them in the land of their birth. They found those opportunities here. Like so many other families who form part of our great Canadian family, they made a wonderful contribution and enabled me to serve my community and my country in the House of Commons and in the Government of Canada in so many wonderful ways.

I mention this not in any vain sense but only because it indicates something of the story of Canada. My story is also the story of millions of other people who make up the story of Canada. The history of my family is part of the history of those who make up the great Canadian family building together what so far is the only truly successful multicultural and pluralistic country in the world. We have done this together. We have been building what Sir Wilfrid Laurier said 100 years ago was to be a Canada united in its diversity.

Each of us brings our respective heritage to add and form part of the great Canadian heritage. My Jewish heritage has inspired me in my work as a member of parliament and as a minister. I have always been inspired by the words of the Hebrew prophets when they called out for us to do judgment and justice, when they called out for us to do judgment for the afflicted and the needy.

These are part of what has kept me so interested and involved and committed in parliamentary and public life for all these years. In working in the House of Commons with all of you and others who are not here, I want to say that this has meant that we together are building the framework for the kind of country we want, a country where individual initiative counts but is partnered with the organized community through government bringing forward values of concern and compassion.

One thousand years ago a great Jewish sage said in the book of the Talmud, Pirke Aboth: Sayings of the Fathers, “Pray for the welfare of the government because without it, men would swallow each other alive”. These wise words are relevant today. These words are also relevant in terms of our parliamentary institutions and how they form part of government today.

There are people who say that the House of Commons is no longer relevant and meaningful. I do not agree with them. One example for me to make my point is to go back to when we first took office in 1993 and we set up the present prebudget process giving a new meaning to consultation in the key part of the work of the House of Commons and parliament.

There are those who would say that things are not getting done, that things take too long. Pierre Elliott Trudeau said:

A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau also said:

--if the Canadian nation must survive, it will only survive in mutual respect and in love for one another.Each of you, each of us, must work toward that goal with our every fibre in the reality of our daily lives.

Mr. Speaker, if our parliamentary institutions, in particular this House of Commons, is to be relevant and to have meaning, then I call upon you to do your work in the spirit of the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier when in a parliamentary debate he said “So long as I have a position in this House, so long as I occupy the position I do now, whenever it shall become my duty to take a stand on any question whatsoever, that stand I will take upon grounds that can appeal to the consciences of all, upon grounds which can be occupied by all who love justice, freedom and toleration”.

Points of Order December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. member's question referred to her action three times in a row about taking her pension. She might want to have a clarification as well.

Points of Order December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, during the question period I referred to the matter of the Minister for International Cooperation voting twice. I may have appeared to have been talking about her allegedly voting twice in the federal election. What I was talking about was the issue of her allegedly voting twice during the last municipal election in Toronto, which took place during the federal election. I thought the House would appreciate this clarification.

Minister for International Cooperation December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, first the hon. member was slurring the minister in an unwarranted way. Then today she goes on to slur a respected senior public servant, the ethics counsellor. Is nothing beyond her in terms of the depths she is willing to fall to in order to hide and make people forget about the way she accepted her pension after all her conversations and commitments?

How about her apologizing? How about her resigning on the basis of the way she conducted herself over this pension issue?

Literary Works December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, what happened to the belief of the Alliance Party in the right of a citizen to have free speech? I guess that is out the window now. What happened to the fact that we are now in the 21st century and it is widely understood that a spouse is not simply an extension of another spouse?

Mr. Saul is a private citizen. He is entitled to express his opinions. He does not have an official position from the government or from the crown. The hon. member ought to recognize that and apologize to the House for wasting its time with a question like this instead of asking about something important like jobs, or health, or the budget, or the--

Minister for International Cooperation December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the hon. member's question states a conclusion. That is a press report. It is not a court ruling. The hon. minister voted in good faith in a municipal ward byelection in a ward where she was a tenant. I submit that on the basis of that, she voted in good faith on the grounds of information obtained for her by her staff.

Minister for International Cooperation December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, there is no basis in what the hon. member said for any resignation by the hon. minister. Perhaps he should resign for wasting the time of the House with these senseless questions.

Minister for International Cooperation December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member is misusing the question period with inaccurate facts in his question.

The hon. minister was talking about her voting during the last federal election. She said with respect to the recent byelection, which I thought was the basis for the question from the hon. member, that she voted once and based on the information her staff received from the Toronto municipal government, she did so properly.

Cida December 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, through his first question, showed why his second question is totally unwarranted, wrong and irrelevant. He asked her a question about her official duties. She gave a fulsome and effective answer. Out of his own mouth, the hon. member has shown why his question is unwarranted.