Deborah Grey

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The Honourable
Deborah Grey
Deborah Grey.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
In office
March 27, 2000 – September 10, 2000
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Preston Manning
Succeeded by Stockwell Day
Leader of the Canadian Alliance
In office
March 27, 2000 – July 8, 2000
Preceded by Preston Manning
(as Leader of the Reform Party)
Succeeded by Stockwell Day
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Edmonton North
In office
June 2, 1997 – June 28, 2004
Preceded by John Loney
Succeeded by riding abolished
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Beaver River
In office
March 13, 1989 – June 2, 1997
Preceded by John Dahmer
Succeeded by riding abolished
Personal details
Born (1952-07-01) July 1, 1952 (age 63)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Political party Reform (1989-2000)
Canadian Alliance (2000-2001, 2002-2003)
Democratic Representative Caucus (2001-2002)
Conservative (2003-2004)
Profession Teacher[1]

Deborah Cleland Grey, PC QC (born July 1, 1952) is a former Canadian Member of Parliament from Alberta for the Reform Party of Canada, the Canadian Alliance, and the Conservative Party of Canada.

Before politics[edit]

Born in Vancouver, Grey pursued studies in Sociology, English and Education at Burrard Inlet Bible Institute, Trinity Western College and the University of Alberta. She then worked as a teacher in a number of rural Alberta communities until 1989.

Political career[edit]

Grey's first run for office was in the 1988 election, when she ran as the Reform candidate in Beaver River, a mostly rural riding in northeastern Alberta.[1] She finished a distant fourth behind Progressive Conservative John Dahmer. However, Dahmer died before he could be sworn in. Grey won a by-election in March 1989, almost tripling her vote total from the 1988 election to become Reform's first MP.[1] It was only the second time the Progressive Conservatives had lost a seat in Alberta since 1968. Party leader Preston Manning immediately named her as Reform's deputy leader. The two were friends for many years; Grey calls him "Misterbrainiola". Her first legislative assistant was a young Stephen Harper.

Reform elected 52 MPs in the 1993 election, replacing the Progressive Conservatives as the main right-wing party in Canada. Grey won her first full term in this election, and was named chairwoman of the enlarged Reform caucus. In 1997, Beaver River was abolished and its territory split into two neighbouring ridings. Grey moved to Edmonton North at the request of several local conservatives dissatisfied with being represented by a Liberal, John Loney (elected in the 1993 landslide). She won that year's election (though Loney himself did not run), and continued to represent this riding for the remainder of her career. Reform became the Official Opposition in that election.[1]

Grey served as Reform's deputy leader and caucus chairwoman until March 2000, when the Reform Party was folded into the Canadian Alliance. When Manning stepped down as Leader of the Opposition to contest the Alliance leadership race, Grey was appointed interim leader of the Alliance and Leader of the Opposition.[1] She was the first female Leader of the Opposition in Canadian history. She held the post until new Alliance leader Stockwell Day was elected to the House of Commons in September 2000. He appointed Grey as deputy leader and caucus chairwoman once again.

Grey resigned those posts on April 24, 2001, in protest against Day's leadership. In July of that year, Grey quit the Canadian Alliance and joined 10 other Alliance dissidents in the "Independent Alliance Caucus". While Chuck Strahl eventually emerged as the dissidents' leader, Grey lent the group instant credibility since she had been Reform/Alliance's matriarch as well as the deputy leader. When Day offered an amnesty to the dissidents, Grey was one of seven who turned it down and formed the Democratic Representative Caucus (DRC), led by Strahl with Grey as deputy leader. In September 2001, the DRC formed a coalition caucus with the Progressive Conservatives, and Grey served as chairwoman of the PC-DRC caucus. She later said that she lost confidence in Day after seeing him attack his staffers after a public gaffe.

In April, 2002, after Harper defeated Day in the race to be the Alliance leader, Grey and all but two of the DRC MPs rejoined the Alliance caucus, and in December 2003, the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives ratified an agreement to merge into the Conservative Party of Canada. Grey was co-chair, with former PC leader Peter MacKay, of the new party's first leadership convention in March, 2004.

Grey was not shy about tossing verbal barbs at the governing Liberals. She called Jean Chrétien "the Shawinigan Strangler", Don Boudria "Binder Boy", Jane Stewart "Miss Management" and Paul Martin "Captain Whirlybird."

Deborah Grey is also well known for refusing to join the lucrative MP Pension Plan and ridiculing other "MP porkers" for feeding at the public trough. Later she bought her way back into the pension plan resulting in former Prime Minister Joe Clark labeling her the "high priestess of hypocrisy".[2]

Grey's riding of Edmonton North was abolished for the 2004 federal election, and Grey retired from politics rather than attempting nomination in another.[1] She was Western chairwoman of the Conservative campaign in the 2006 election, in which Harper became Prime Minister of Canada.


Shortly after retiring, she published her autobiography, Never Retreat, Never Explain, Never Apologize: My Life and My Politics. In 2007, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. On 22 April 2013, she was appointed to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and along with that appointment, was made a Privy Councillor, giving her the title, "The Honourable". It was announced that Grey was stepping down from the Security Intelligence Review Committee on May 1, 2015, in a press release from the Prime Minister's Office.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Grey has been married to Lewis Larson since August 7, 1993; they have no children together. They are grandparents through Lewis' children by his first marriage.

Election results[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2000: Edmonton North
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Alliance Deborah Grey 22,063 51.21% $61,317
     Liberal Jim Jacuta 14,786 34.32% $28,846
     New Democratic Party Laurie Lang 3,216 7.46% $815
     Progressive Conservative Dean Sanduga 3,010 6.98% $9,842
Total valid votes 43,075 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 174 0.40%
Turnout 43,249 57.20%
Canadian federal election, 1997: Edmonton North
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Reform Deborah Grey 16,124 44.30% $56,921
     Liberal Jonathan Murphy 11,820 32.47% $46,517
     New Democratic Party Ray Martin 5,413 14.87% $60,286
     Progressive Conservative Mitch Panciuk 2,811 7.72% $51,169
     Natural Law Ric Johnsen 226 0.62%
Total valid votes 36,394 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 99 0.27%
Turnout 36,493 55.63%
Canadian federal election, 1993: Beaver River
Party Candidate Votes
Reform Deborah Grey 17,731
     Liberal Michael J. Zacharko 7,526
     Progressive Conservative Dave Broda 3,855
     New Democratic Party Eugene Houle 1,058
     Natural Law Guy C. Germain 294
     Independent B.H. Bud Glenn 94

By-election held following Dahmer's death:

By-election on March 13, 1989 by-election

Beaver River

Party Candidate Votes
Reform Deborah Grey 11,154
     Progressive Conservative Dave Broda 6,912
     Liberal Ernie O. Brosseau 2,756
     New Democratic Party Barbara Bonneau 2,081
Canadian federal election, 1988: Beaver River
Party Candidate Votes
Progressive Conservative John Dahmer 13,768
Liberal Ernie Sehn 6,528
New Democratic Brian Luther 6,492
Reform Deborah Grey 4,158
Confederation of Regions Les Johnston 131


External links[edit]