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Canadian former deputy PM Herb Gray dies at age 82

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gray in 2008
Image: Christine St. John.

Herb Gray, a Canadian former deputy Prime Minister whose federal political career stretched 39 years, died yesterday. He was 82.

The lawyer from Windsor was undefeated through thirteen consecutive elections, from 1962 to his last in 2000. The Liberal was the third longest serving Parliamentarian of the nation. Nicknamed Gray Herb for his seriousness and The Gray Fog for his ability to deflect questions, Herb was the first Jewish minister in Canada.

Deputy PM Sheila Copps's 1997 resignation saw Gray promoted to fill the role. Prior to that he served as interim Liberal leader in 1990.

Despite his professional seriousness he had a love of political satire, collecting editorial cartoons and listening to radio shows such as Royal Canadian Air Farce and Double Exposure. Outside of politics he enjoyed rock music and played classical piano.

Gray survived throat cancer treated with radiation in the 1990s and operations for prostate and heart conditions in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

James Moore, Conservative current Minister for Industry, tweeted about the "marvel" of Gray "swatting away our questions [...] when we were in opposition." Current Liberal head Justin Trudeau said Gray was a "great statesman" who "left behind an immense legacy unmatched by most in Canadian history".

Copps said he was "an incredible Canadian and a brilliant parliamentarian" and ex-leader of the Liberals Bob Rae said he "served Canada with such distinction and care". Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Gray "an honourable parliamentarian who served his country well".

Gray is survived by wife Sharon Sholzberg, who once said she not once witnessed her partner heading "out for a drink with the boys", and their two children and eight grandchildren.


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