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Herb Gray in the Feb. 6, 1970 issue of the Detroit Jewish News

Looking Back At Herb Gray

From the DJN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Ever hear of Herb Gray? Do those of you with Canadian roots in Windsor, Ontario, know about Mr. Gray?

I ran across a very interesting story about Herb Gray in the Feb. 6, 1970, issue of the JN. That’s where I learned he was a very famous politician and had been appointed to the cabinet of the famous Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau (the current and 23rd prime minister of Canada is Pierre’s son, Justin Trudeau). Gray’s appointment was a big deal for the Jewish community in Windsor and Canada. He was the first Jewish cabinet member in Canadian history.

Herbert Eser “Herb” Gray was born to a middle-class family in Windsor in 1931, the son of Fannie and Harry Gray. He graduated with a degree in commerce from McGill University and then from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He was first elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1961 and went on to a stellar career as a politician with the Liberal Party in Canada, serving as a Member of Parliament for four decades. Along with his appointment to Trudeau’s cabinet, Gray was also in the cabinet of two other prime ministers and was Deputy Prime Minister from 1997-2002.

Gray retired from politics in 2002, but he was hardly “retired.” He was appointed the Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission, a Canadian-United States organization that deals with water and air rights issues. In 2008, Gray was appointed the 10th Chancellor of Carleton University. He died at age 82 on April 21, 2014.

Gray received many awards during his life, but the Governor General of Canada bestowed one of the highest honors upon him in 2002, when he was given the title of “The Right Honourable.” Today, in Windsor, you can drive on the Right Honourable Herb Gray Parkway.

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

Mike Smith

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