Podcast Transcript: Herb Gray
Host: Hello everyone, I want to thank you for listening. I'm James Gibbons with the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy here in Ottawa. I'm with the Right Honourable Herbert Gray. He is a former Member of Parliament and a former International Visitor with the State Department. Mr. Gray travelled to Washington, D.C. as an International Visitor back in 1967. So what was your experience like with the program in D.C.?
Herb Gray: I thought it was a very useful and interesting program. I had been to Washington before and I did not have access to the people and places that I did on this trip.
Host: Now was there some type of event or place that stood out in D.C. that is memorable?
Herb Gray: I remember in particular meeting with a Dr. Habib at the State Department and talked about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam. There was a village militia program which he thought was turning out to be very good. Of course things didn't end at that point and went on for years.
Host: How did that in D.C. formulate your understanding of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada?
Herb Gray: Well I represented Windsor, Ontario in the House of Commons for forty years. I was born and brought up there and Windsor is just across the river from Detroit, so I was very conscious of the Canada-U.S. relationship throughout my life -- we had access to American media, TV, radio, newspapers. So all this stuff I had access to on my trip wasn't totally new to me, but it helped me to broaden my understanding.
Host: Now after your tenure in Parliament, and by the way I believe you are the longest continuing serving Member of Parliament, you were the Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission. That is an organization that deals with boundary issues between Canada and the U.S. What were some of the main issues you dealt with?
Herb Gray: First I should not that in addition to being the longest-serving MP in Canadian Parliament, I won thirteen elections in a row in Windsor, Ontario, had eleven cabinet posts, and left the cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister, and Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission. That is a stand-alone international body created by a treaty that the two countries signed in 1909. So we did deal with a whole range of issues. We responded to references from the two governments to look into and report on matters involving Lake Champlain, the St. Mary's rivers, we also administered orders apportioning the waters and freshwater boundaries between the two countries. So there's a whole gamut of things that we did and of course the commission has three American and three Canadian commissioners. We worked as one body in a very collegial and constructive way.
Host: In conclusion, where do you see the relationship between Canada and the United States headed in the future? Do you see it strengthening, going into a different direction? What are your thoughts on that?
Herb Gray: Well you can't change geography. We are the closest neighbor to the U.S. We are the major source of energy and other exports to the U.S. I can't see anything other than the relationship remaining strong and strengthening on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.
Host: On that note I wanted to thank the Right Honourable Herb Gray, former Member of Parliament, the longest continuous serving MP, and former Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission.