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Gray, Herbert Eser


GRAY, HERBERT ESER (Herb ; 1931– ), politician and Canada's first Jewish cabinet minister. Gray was born in Windsor, Ontario, graduated from the School of Commerce of McGill University and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1956. Gray practiced law in Windsor before entering politics in 1962 when he was elected the Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Windsor West. A strong advocate for human rights and freedom of conscience, Gray was returned to office in the next 12 consecutive elections, becoming the longest continuously serving Member of Parliament in Canadian history with close to 40 years of service in the House of Commons.

In October 1969, Gray was named minister without portfolio in Pierre Trudeau's first government, the first Jewish cabinet minister in Canadian history. He went on to hold a number of Liberal cabinet portfolios including National Revenue and Industry, Trade and Commerce, and president of the Treasury Board. When the Liberals were out of office, Gray served as Opposition House leader from 1984 to 1990, leader of the Opposition in 1990, and finance critic for the Official Opposition from 1991 to 1993. With the Liberal return to power in 1993, he was appointed leader of the Government in the House of Commons and solicitor general of Canada. From 1997 to 2002, he served as deputy prime minister, the first to turn this position into a full-time cabinet post. Following his retirement from the House of Commons in January 2002, he was appointed Canadian chair of the International Joint Commission, a Canadian-American bilateral organization dealing with transboundary issues.

Among his many honors, he received the title "Right Honourable," one of only six Canadians ever to hold the title usually reserved for current and former prime ministers, governors general, and chief justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. He was also a Companion of the Order of Canada. Gray's wife, sharon sholzberg-gray, served as president of the Canadian Healthcare Association.

[Judith E. Szaport (2nd ed.)]

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