Brian Masse Speaks in House of Commons Tribute to the Right Hon. Herb Gray

 

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):

    Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we all learned of the passing of a tremendous parliamentarian and Canadian last week, the Right Honourable Herb Gray.

It has been my great honour to represent the same seat that he held for nearly 40 years. During his time here, my region enjoyed the great privilege of being represented in this place by a man of dignity, character and depth.

Mr. Gray was one of a kind and served with a specific flair that could be described as understated, but nevertheless he commanded respect.

The uniqueness of his career manifested concretely in many ways. He was the first Jewish cabinet minister in Canadian history. His nearly 40 years of service in the federal legislature makes him one of the longest serving MPs ever. He is among only a handful of Canadians who did not serve as prime minister to be afforded the honorific of Right Honourable.

What is truly remarkable about his career is that he had the unquestioned respect of his colleagues across party lines. As a parliamentarian one of Mr. Gray's most defining attributes was his insistence to put his community at the centre of his work. Whether it was on the auto file, a critical industry in Windsor, or on development of our waterfront, Mr. Gray was there all the time. Even after he chose to leave electoral politics, he continued to remain engaged in the significant issues impacting our region, working to protect the Great Lakes as the Chair of the International Joint Commission.

Mr. Gray was a man of great intellect with an incredible and distinctive ability to engage his colleagues in the House. His performances in question period are legendary and affectionately earned him the nickname the "Gray Fog", an homage to his ability to reframe and rebuke opposition remarks and questions. I think he may be credited with inventing the term, “I reject the premise of the member's question”, a line we continue hear in this place on a regular basis.

In Windsor, the Herb Gray legacy will live on for generations. We are already taking specific steps to tangibly commemorate his legacy with public art and infrastructure bearing his name, but his impact can be felt at a more personal level when we consider the number of citizens he impacted in the community. Whether it was inspiring people or constituents he assisted, he leaves behind an indelible mark in the social fabric of my community. With that, I want to thank all of his staff and volunteers for their service.

To the family, his wife Sharon and children Jonathon and Elizabeth, along with the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the New Democrats, and on behalf of this entire House, I want to offer my sincerest condolences and thank you for sharing Mr. Gray with us.

As well, to friends and extended family of the Right Honourable Herb Gray, I want to thank you for supporting his tremendous service to the community we shared and the country we love.

 Obviously, I am very nervous doing this. It is out of genuine respect for a man that our community loved and misses.