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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Deborah Grey: The First Lady of Reform on her Order of Canada, Morgentaler, her contribution to the country and the crisis in Parliament

Deborah Grey is a special person to those who were part of the Reform Party in the late 1980s. She energized the movement by becoming the party’s first elected Member of Parliament. A teacher at the time, she won the Beaver River by-election in March 1989 and was promptly appointed Deputy Leader of the party by mentor and party founder Preston Manning.

Grey was affectionately known as the First Lady of Reform and became a celebrity among grassroots conservatives across the country for her unapologetic and unpolished approach to politics. She was the kind of folksy political star only the West could produce.

While she went to Ottawa alone, without colleagues in the House of Commons until 1993, she did have the support of a smart legislative assistant – Stephen Harper, who is, of course, Canada’s embattled Conservative prime minister.

Grey is known for her honesty, integrity, toughness and straight talk. In fact, she got on the straight talk express in 1989 and has never gotten off, even after leaving public office in 2004.

On Friday, along with her friend and mentor Preston Manning, Grey will be inducted into the Order of Canada, our country’s highest civilian honour. It’s been a long journey for Grey, from that of a noisy, unwelcomed outsider in Ottawa with a “reform or bust” style and agenda, to being recognized as a person who has helped shaped our country and improve the lives of Canadians.

The Western Standard caught up with Grey this morning for this interview:

Western Standard: Do you have any thoughts on Morgentaler's induction into the Order of Canada? Does it taint the honour for you?

Deborah Grey: The Order of Canada is a great honour, since its inception in 1967. It has traditionally been an honour that has united the country by celebrating the achievements of people in all regions, under many categories. Unfortunately, Morgentaler has been more of a divider than a unifier in Canada. 

He was appointed on my birthday -- July 1. I am very grateful my mother did not meet up with him. She gave me life -- the most precious gift of all. I will accept and celebrate my appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, even though I disagree with his appointment. I suspect he may disagree with mine!

WS: What do you see as your greatest contribution to Canada?

DG: My greatest contribution to Canada was to give a voice to Western Canadians when they were frustrated with their representation in Parliament. Reform brought a common sense approach to Ottawa and forced the Liberals to balance budgets.

WS: And what do you think of the current instability in Parliament?

DG: The mess in Ottawa right now looks bad on all parties. The country doesn't give a sweet fig about the inside baseball of Parliament. This is no time for goading from either side. Bring in a budget that can be workable and get on with it. Economically, Rome is burning -- quit your fiddling and run the country, folks!

With Preston Manning and Deborah Grey soon to be in the Order of Canada, can it finally be said that the Reform Party's populist brand of Western conservativism has arrived?

Posted by Matthew Johnston on December 9, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink


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Wonder how Grey is enjoying her lifetime government cheques?

After climbing down from the lie she would refuse the platinum pensions given to MP's, she probably went and bought another bike.

Posted by: hardboiled | 2008-12-09 4:04:09 PM

Hardboiled's comment misses the point of what Deb Grey was trying to do with the pension issue. She never stopped trying to reform the MP pension plan from a gold plated plan to one that was consistent with other Canadians. She never claimed that she would abolish the pension plan,she only worked to reform it.

In the end it was either retire with the pension plan that was part of her pay package, or retire with no pension at all after giving up the years of pension she would have received as a teacher.

She did frankly what anyone else in her circumstances would have done.

Posted by: Greg | 2008-12-09 5:13:09 PM

Debra Grey sold her soul for the pension and she sold her soul to unite with the crowd against Stockwell Day and she will sell her soul for a bit of ribbon with a piece of metal on it. I have no respect for her.

Posted by: eliza | 2008-12-09 5:20:02 PM

Preston Mannin g and Deborah Grey are truly great Canadians and I a absolutely delighted that they are being honoured with the ORDER OF CANADA.

I admire Preston Manning and Deborah Gray very much.

Posted by: MICHAEL McCAFFERTY | 2008-12-09 8:13:55 PM

And what have you done Eliza, except bitch and whine? What kind of cheese would you like with that?

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-12-09 8:19:54 PM

Deborah Grey is a more worthy recipient of the OoC than Henry Morgentaler...

Posted by: Grandad | 2008-12-09 9:30:32 PM

We are delighted to hear that Deborah Grey was honored with the Order of Canada. It is the least that can be done to recognize her unselfish commitment to serve and represent her country well, especially western Canada. She is a great example and we wish her the very best! She earned and deserves every penny of her pension ... you go girl!

Posted by: Deb Hochachka | 2008-12-18 10:09:09 PM

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