Heward Grafftey

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Heward Grafftey
MP for Brome—Missisquoi
In office
March 31, 1958 – June 24, 1968
Preceded by Joseph-Léon Deslières
Succeeded by Yves Forest
In office
October 30, 1972 – February 17, 1980
Preceded by Yves Forest
Succeeded by André Bachand
Personal details
William Heward Grafftey

(1928-08-05)August 5, 1928
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died February 11, 2010(2010-02-11) (aged 81)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political party Progressive Conservative

William Heward Grafftey, PC QC (August 5, 1928 – February 11, 2010) was a Canadian politician and businessman.

Early life

Born in Montreal, Quebec, to a wealthy family, he was a nephew of artist Prudence Heward of the Beaver Hall Group, and wrote a chapter on her in the 1996 book Portraits of a Life.

His father, Major Arthur Grafftey, was a First World War hero and board chairman of the Montreal Lumber Company.

Grafftey received a bachelor of arts degree from Mount Allison University, majoring in political science and history, and a bachelor of civil law degree from McGill University. He was admitted to the Bar of Quebec.

Parliamentary career

Grafftey was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 1958 general election that elected John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservative Party in a landslide victory. A resident of the Eastern Townships, he was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Brome—Missisquoi from 1958 to 1968. From 1962 to 1963, Grafftey served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance. Due to his relatively short stature and impish looks, Grafftey earned the nickname of "The Gnome from Brome," during his twenty years in politics.

In the 1964 Great Flag Debate, he was one of a handful of Conservative MPs who broke with leader John Diefenbaker to support the adoption of the Maple Leaf flag. Grafftey sat as a Tory MP until losing his seat in the 1968 Trudeau landslide. During this period, he called for radical reforms to Canada's housing policies.[1]

Grafftey returned to Parliament in the 1972 election, and was a candidate at the 1976 Progressive Conservative leadership convention, in which he placed last, with 33 delegate votes. Like many of the other challengers in the race who were knocked off in the early ballots, Grafftey supported the eventual leadership race winner Joe Clark.

He served as Minister of State for Social Programs and Minister of State for Science and Technology in the short lived 1979–1980 government of Joe Clark before losing his seat in the 1980 election. Grafftey supported Clark in the 1983 PC leadership convention, and was largely shut out of Quebec PC circles during the Mulroney years.

Later political career

Grafftey attempted to return to Parliament in the 2000 election, but was unsuccessful. After suffering a serious injury which incapacitated him for most of the campaign, he came in third place behind the Bloc Québécois challenger and Liberal incumbent MP Denis Paradis. He did, however, finish with the second highest vote total of any Progressive Conservative candidate in the province of Québec.

In 2002, he was one of the first Progressive Conservatives to openly call for Tory leader Joe Clark's resignation, offering himself as a replacement.[2] Grafftey eventually ran as a leadership candidate in the 2003 PC leadership contest.[3] He ran a campaign that was devoid of defining policy proposals but which focused upon his political experience, his bilingualism and his belief that he could recruit 300,000 new members to help the PCs win the coming election. Although, like most of the candidates in the race, he supported the twin Progressive Conservative pillars of North American free trade and support for decentralizing reforms to the Canadian constitution, he often found himself in agreement with the left wing of his party, sharing maverick candidate David Orchard's opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Grafftey's candidacy received some media attention largely because he was the only candidate in the race who was fluently bilingual (in English and French) and actually had government experience. Yet Grafftey's age (75 at the time) was also mocked by political satirists as an indication of the lack of "new blood" in the PC Party. Grafftey withdrew several days prior to the vote for health reasons.[4] Analysts suggest that Grafftey had 72 committed delegates hailing largely from several Montreal-area ridings. Most of Grafftey's delegates entered the convention as "undeclared delegates". He did not attend the convention, nor did he endorse any other leadership candidate, though many of his rural backers went over to David Orchard.

After the 2003 convention, Grafftey briefly re-entered the political spotlight by joining David Orchard and other former Tories in opposition to a proposed merger of the party with the Canadian Alliance. Grafftey still insisted that he was a "Progressive Conservative". He ran in Brome-Missisquoi for the Progressive Canadian Party in the 2006 federal election and came in fifth place with 1,921 votes – 4% of the total ballots cast.

Other interests

Grafftey was active in business circles up to his death and was the CEO of SafetySense, a company that publishes basic safety booklets for businesses and schools.

In 2001, he wrote a book on the state of Canadian politics entitled Democracy Challenged: How to End One-Party Rule in Canada.

Personal life

He has three children: Arthur Heward, Clement Tae Yong, and Leah Yoon Hee. His marriage to Alida Grace Visser ended in divorce.[5] He neither declared nor denied being gay. "I never had to come out, because it was never an issue. I was never in. I was always me," he once said. Grafftey declared his sexual orientation when he disrupted and stormed out of a service at St. George's Anglican Church in Montreal after the priest delivered what he considered a homophobic sermon.[5]

Grafftey died February 11, 2010 at the Royal Victoria Hospital from complications from Parkinson's disease.[6][7]

Further reading

Grafftey, Heward (1988). Safety Sense on the Road. Ottawa: Safety Sense Enterprises. ISBN 9780921653028.

Grafftey, Heward (1991). Safety Sense at Play. Ottawa: Safety Sense Enterprises. ISBN 9780969556800.

Grafftey, Heward (1996). Safety Sense: How to Live Safely and Prevent Death and Injury on the Road, at Home, at Play, at Work. Orléans, Ontario: Safety Sense Enterprises. ISBN 9780969556848.

Grafftey, Heward (1996). Portraits from a Life. Montreal: Véhicule Press. p. 240. ISBN 9781550650778.

Grafftey, Heward (2002). Democracy Challenged: How to End One-Party Rule in Canada. Montreal: Véhicule Press. ISBN 9781550651584.


  1. ^ Winnipeg Free Press, January 25, 1969, p. 11.
  2. ^ "Former Quebec MP says time for Clark to step aside". CBC News. July 9, 2002. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "Grafftey enters race for Tory leadership". The Chronicle Herald. January 30, 2003. Archived from the original on March 29, 2003. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  4. ^ "Grafftey drops out of Tory race". CBC News. May 22, 2003. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Hustak, Alan (February 11, 2010). "'The bad boy of Montreal's blue bloods' brought common sense to politics". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "Long-time MP a dogged champion of social causes". The Gazette. Montreal. February 13, 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Ex-MP Heward Grafftey dies at 81". CBC News. February 12, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2015.

External links

  • Heward Grafftey – Parliament of Canada biography
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