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Robert Keith "Bob" Rae, PC, OC, OOnt, QC, MP (born August 2, 1948) is a Canadianmarker politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and sits in the Canadian House of Commons as the Liberal opposition's foreign affairs critic.

Rae was a New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament from 1978 to 1982. Then he moved to provincial politics, becoming leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party from February 7, 1982 to June 22, 1996. He served as the 21st Premier of Ontario from October 1, 1990 to June 26, 1995, and was the first person to have led a provincial NDP government east of Manitobamarker. While in office, he brought forward a number of initiatives such as the Social Contract that were unpopular with many traditional NDP supporters. Rae's subsequent disagreement with the middle-east policies some members of the NDP led him to resign his membership and join the Liberals.

In 2006, he was a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, finishing in third place on the third ballot. Rae returned to the Canadian House of Commons on March 31, 2008, as a Liberal MP after winning a March 17, 2008 by-election holding the riding that had previously been held by Liberal Bill Graham. He was re-elected in the 2008 general election. Rae ran again as a candidate for the party leadership but withdrew on December 12, 2008.


Rae was born in Ottawamarker, Ontariomarker. His father, Saul, was an eminent Canadian career diplomat of Jewish and Scottishmarker descent (raised as an Anglican) who had postings in Washington, Geneva, New York, Mexico and The Hague.

Rae's brother, John, is a Vice-President of Power Corporation and a prominent member of the Liberal Party. He was also an adviser to Jean Chrétien from 1993 until Chrétien retired in 2003. Rae's younger brother, David, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1987. Despite a bone marrow transplant from his brother, he died of leukemia in 1989 at age 32.

Rae's sister, Jennifer, worked for many years for the IMAX Corporation but has now retired. She dated Pierre Trudeau for a time in the late 1960s.

Upon his marriage to Arlene, Rae agreed to raise his children in his wife's Jewish faith, though he himself is an Anglican.

Rae is not related to Kyle Rae, a Toronto City Councillor who happens to represent a ward within Bob Rae's current federal riding.

Early career

Rae attended Crichton Street Public Schoolmarker in Ottawa, Horace Mann Public School and Gordon Junior High School in Washington, D.C.marker, and the International School of Genevamarker. His first job was a paper route delivering the Evening Star newspaper, which he later described as "one of the worst newspapers in the history of modern journalism". His customers included Richard Nixon and Estes Kefauver. Rae later joked that Kefauver gave him a $20 tip one Christmas, whereas Pat Nixon only gave him a quarter and made him more sympathetic to Democrats from that moment.

He graduated with honours from University Collegemarker, University of Torontomarker, where he also later received his law degree. Michael Ignatieff, who later became Rae's rival for the Liberal Party leadership, was his roommate for a time. He first became involved in politics by volunteering on Trudeau's 1968 Liberal leadership campaign, and later worked on Liberal Charles Caccia's campaign in the 1968 federal election. Rae and Caccia have remained personal friends through their political careers. During his final year as an undergraduate, Rae was a student representative on the Bissell Commission on University Government.

As a result of his strong student record, Rae was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford Universitymarker, where he studied at Balliol College, Oxfordmarker under Isaiah Berlin. His Bachelor's thesis criticized the cultural imperialism of early Fabian socialists in the United Kingdommarker, such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb. During his period in Britain he became involved with social work, helping squatters find rental accommodation in Londonmarker. He attributes the experience with helping him develop a deepened commitment to social justice and, on his return to Canada in 1974 Rae joined the social democratic NDP. He worked in labour law during the mid-1970s.

Honorary Degrees

Bob Rae Has Received Several Honorary Degrees from Educational Institutions around the World.

Federal New Democrat MP

Rae was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in a 1978 by-election, defeating Progressive Conservative Tom Clifford by 420 votes in the Torontomarker riding of Broadview. Rae won the NDP nomination over former MP John Paul Harney and activist Kay Macpherson.

He was re-elected in the new riding of Broadview—Greenwood in the 1979 federal election, and gained national prominence as the NDP's finance critic. In December 1979, Rae attached a rider to a budget bill proposed by the government of Joe Clark, declaring that "this House has lost confidence in the government." It was this motion's passage that toppled Clark's government after only eight months.

Rae was elected to parliament for a third time in the 1980 federal election, and married Arlene Perly days later. In caucus, he sided with party leader Ed Broadbent in supporting patriation of the Canadian Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also articulated his party's policy on the Canadian Bank Act, and criticized the Bank of Canadamarker's high interest rate policy.

Ontario NDP leader

During the same period Rae was in Ottawa, the Ontario New Democratic Party was suffering from internal disunity under the leadership of Michael Cassidy. Cassidy resigned as leader after a poor performance in the 1981 provincial election, and a movement began to draft Rae as his replacement. Rae initially declined a request from a provincial delegation led by Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Dave Cooke, but reconsidered after further entreaties from former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis and many others.

Eleven of the party's 21 MPPs endorsed his candidacy, as did much of the labour movement. Rae's supporters in caucus were Marion Bryden, Brian Charlton, Dave Cooke, Odoardo Di Santo, Tony Grande, Donald C. MacDonald, Robert Mackenzie, Elie Martel, Ed Philip, George Samis and Mel Swart. He was the most centrist candidate in the contest, and easily defeated Richard Johnston and Jim Foulds at a leadership convention in early 1982.

When Rae won the NDP leadership, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party had governed Ontario since 1943 and was widely regarded as unbeatable. Rae was strongly critical of the Bill Davis government's approach to social issues, and used his acceptance speech to describe the PC Party's Ontario as "Toryland", "essentially a country club in which women and people of colour were not welcome". His comments were criticized by some in the media, though Rae himself would later write that his words seemed "particularly apt" in retrospect and "certainly aroused an angry response which often means a target has been hit".

First session

After Rae won the party leadership, there was a delay of several months before he was able to contest a by-election to enter the Ontario legislature. Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) Jim Renwick, Marion Bryden and Tony Grande all declined to relinquish their seats, before former party leader Donald C. MacDonald agreed to stand down in the York South constituency. Rae defeated Liberal candidate John Nunziata, a Yorkmarker councillor in a by-election on November 4, 1982. Counting the leadership contest, this was his fifth election in just over four years.

The opposition Liberals were led by the inexperienced David Peterson. Many senior NDP strategists believed their party could surpass the Liberals for second place, and Rae and Peterson became frequent rivals for media attention and public support between 1982 and 1985. The NDP took two seats from the Liberals in late 1984 by-elections, and polling by Decima Research from this period put them slightly ahead of the Liberals, although still well behind the PCs.

1985 election and the Liberal-NDP Accord

The NDP did not, however, make the anticipated gains in the 1985 provincial election. They won 25 seats out of 125, only a modest improvement from their 1981 showing. The Progressive Conservatives lost support after Davis retired and right-wing candidate Frank Miller was chosen as their new leader. However, it was the Liberals rather than the NDP who were able to reposition themselves in the political centre and reap the benefits of this change.

Rae nonetheless played a pivotal role in bringing the Progressive Conservative Party's 42-year dynasty to an end. The 1985 election resulted in a minority parliament, in which the Tories held four more seats than David Peterson's Liberals, but were eleven seats short of a majority. Rae entered into negotiations with both Premier Miller and Peterson, the latter begun by a phone call from Rae to Peterson shortly after election day. Rae and Peterson signed a "Liberal-NDP Accord" in which the NDP agreed to support a Liberal government in office for two years. The Liberals, in turn, agreed to implement some policies favoured by the NDP. Rae had personally supported a full coalition, but did not strongly argue this case with other members of his party. Peterson later indicated that he would not have accepted a coalition in any event.

The Progressive Conservatives were defeated in a no-confidence motion on June 18, 1985, and Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird asked Peterson to form a new government. Rae himself moved the motion of non-confidence, as he had done in the defeat of Joe Clark's government six years earlier. With support from Rae, Peterson's government implemented socially progressive legislation on matters such as pay equity, brought an end to extra-billing by doctors, and established campaign spending limits. Rae often criticized Peterson's approach to specific issues, but never moved to bring down the government.

Rae advocated pension reform in early 1986, following revelations that some corporate leaders in Ontario had been given permission to withdraw money from their employees' pension funds. He was especially critical of Conrad Black, who then held a controlling interest in Dominion Stores Ltd., for withdrawing $62 million at a time when many laid off company workers were unable to receive severance pay. During a legislative debate, Rae described Black as "that most symbolic representative of bloated capitalism at its worst". The Liberal government declined to act on the matter. Later in the same year, Rae argued that the Peterson government should reform the Ontario Human Rights Code to include provisions for group defamation and systematic discrimination.

Some members of the NDP disapproved of the party's accord with the Liberals. Party activist Ian Orenstein challenged Rae for the provincial leadership in 1986 in a symbolic protest against the party's centrist tilt. Rae won without difficulty.

Leader of the Opposition

The Peterson government was very popular during its first two years in office, and the Liberal Party won a landslide majority government in the 1987 provincial election, called after the conclusion of the Liberal-NDP accord. The NDP was reduced to nineteen seats and Rae was nearly defeated in his own riding, defeating high-profile Liberal challenger Alan Tonks by only 333 votes. The Progressive Conservatives under Larry Grossman suffered an even more serious defeat, falling to only sixteen seats. As a result, Rae became Leader of the Opposition once the legislature resumed.

In September 1989, Rae took part in a highly-publicized protest in support of native land claims in the middle of the Temagamimarker Forest in Northern Ontario. Following discussions with Chief Gary Potts, Rae agreed to participate in a road sit-in to protect a strand of old pine, a key aspect of the native claim. After the protest, Rae was escorted to a police wagon by members of the Ontario Provincial Police and driven to the nearby town of Elk Lakemarker. He was not charged with an offense.

There was considerable speculation that Rae would seek the federal NDP leadership in 1989, after the resignation of Ed Broadbent. High-profile party members such as former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis, Allan Blakeney and Roy Romanow of Saskatchewanmarker, Gary Doer of Manitobamarker and Alexa McDonough of Nova Scotiamarker all encouraged him to run, as did several representatives of organized labour. Expecting Rae to resign, Bud Wildman, Ruth Grier and Richard Johnston began preparing campaigns to succeed him as leader of the Ontario NDP. On October 5, 1989, however, Rae announced that he would not return to federal politics and would remain as provincial leader. Several of Rae's associates, including Arlene Perly Rae, declared their support for Howard McCurdy, and later moved to Audrey McLaughlin after McCurdy was dropped from the ballot at the leadership convention. Rae declined to endorse a candidate.

Rae was an international observer for Lithuaniamarker's first multi-party elections in early 1990. A lifelong opponent of communism, he later wrote that he was impressed by the spirit of the opposition Sajudis party, which won the election. He was also very critical of the Kremlin's harsh response to the opposition's victory.

Election victory

Peterson called a snap election for 1990. The NDP entered the campaign with low expectations, as the Liberals still held a significant lead in opinion polls and all signs indicated that they would win another majority government. Rae later acknowledged that he did not expect to win the election, and planned to leave electoral politics at some point in the next sitting of the legislature. A number of prominent MPPs, including Richard Johnston, Marion Bryden and David Reville, chose not to seek re-election. Floyd Laughren was also planning to retire, but had not finalized his plans when Peterson dropped the writ.

Contrary to expectations, the Liberal Party's support base declined significantly in mid-campaign. The snap election was interpreted by many voters as a sign of arrogance, while lingering effects from an earlier scandal involving Liberal fundraiser Patti Starr undermined public confidence in the government. Also, while Peterson and Rae both supported the Meech Lake Accord for constitutional reform, which became unpopular in Ontario, Peterson's prominent role in drafting the accord proved a particular liability. There were also signs of an economic downturn by this time and some believed that Peterson had called the snap election to avoid its full impact. The Progressive Conservatives were led by the inexperienced Mike Harris, who ran a narrow campaign focused on tax issues and was unable to capitalize on the Liberal slide. As such, Rae's NDP was the primary beneficiary. Rae himself was more confident than in the 1985 and 1987 campaigns, and took a more aggressive stance against the Peterson government. A poll taken late in the campaign showed the NDP holding a slight lead over the Liberals.

The election results were nonetheless a surprise to political observers across the province, even to longtime NDP supporters. The NDP was elected to a strong majority government with 74 seats. The popular vote was very close, with the NDP outpolling the Liberals 37% to 34%. Several ridings were won by narrow margins. However, the NDP managed to take many seats from the Liberals in the Greater Toronto Area, and also did better than ever before (or in some cases, since) in many other cities and rural areas. Due to the nature of the first-past-the-post electoral system, which ignores the popular vote and only awards power based on the number of ridings won, this decimated the Liberal caucus. The Liberals lost 59 seats, the worst defeat in their history and the second-worst defeat for a governing party in Ontario. The NDP even managed to unseat Peterson in his own riding.


On October 1, 1990, Rae was sworn in as the first NDP premier of Ontario. He also took the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio, giving himself a direct voice in future constitutional negotiations.

He was very popular for his first six months as Premier, with a poll from March 1991 showing the NDP at 52% support. The federal NDP also received 56% support in Ontario in a January 1991 poll.

The government was unable to sustain its popularity, however, and by late 1992 had fallen to third place in public opinion polls. The party's popularity continued to ebb throughout 1993, followed by only a modest recovery in the next two years. This, among other factors, partially contributed to a significant decline in support for the federal NDP.

There are many reasons for the Rae government's loss of popularity between 1991 and 1993. The NDP had never governed Ontario before, and Ontario was experiencing its worst recession since the Great Depression. The government backtracked on several campaign promises, most notably the introduction of public auto insurance, which caused disagreements among the party and supporters, especially left-wingers such as cabinet ministers Howard Hampton and Shelley Martel. A number of scandals in cabinet and caucus also cut into the government's popularity.

In the 1993 federal election, the NDP fell to a historic low of 6% support in Ontario. All 10 New Democrat MPs from Ontario lost their seats to Liberal challengers as the Liberals won all but one seat in the province. Besides many NDP supporters nationwide voting Liberal to ensure that the Conservatives would be defeated (to avoid the vote-splitting in the 1988 election), the Rae government's unpopularity was a major factor in the federal NDP's losses. On the day after the election, defeated MP Steven Langdon called on Rae to resign. Langdon had openly campaigned against Rae's austerity measures. Although he lost by 13,000 votes to the Liberal candidate, he received a higher percentage of votes than any other NDP candidate in the province.

Notwithstanding its setbacks, the Rae government achieved some positive accomplishments during its time in office. It saved many jobs in northern Ontario through its bailout of Algoma Steel, and negotiated a similar contract for workers in Kapuskasingmarker. Other popular initiatives included the TTC Eglinton subway extension in Toronto (even though the official transit plan only recommended a busway for current needs), support for public housing, and the Jobs Ontario job creation program. Rae's decision to approve casino gambling for the province was also opposed by many in the party but it provided a steady source of revenue.

Rae's Government policies

Economic policy

Ontario's economic forecast was bleak when Rae took office in October 1990. The Liberal government had forecast a small surplus earlier in the year, but a worsening North American economy led to a $700 million deficit before Rae took office. In October, the NDP projected a $2.5 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1991. Some economists projected soaring deficits for the upcoming years, even if the Rae government implemented austerity measures. Rae himself was critical of the Bank of Canada's high interest rate policy, arguing that it would lead to increased unemployment throughout the country. He also criticized the 1991 federal budget, arguing the Finance Minister Michael Wilson was shifting the federal debt to the provinces.

The Rae government's first budget, introduced in 1991, increased social spending to mitigate the economic slowdown and projected a record deficit of $9.1 billion. Finance Minister Floyd Laughren argued that Ontario made a decision to target the effects of the recession rather than the deficit, and said that the budget would create or protect 70,000 jobs. It targeted more money to social assistance, social housing and child benefits, and raised taxes for high-income earners while lowering rates for 700,000 low-income Ontarians.

A few years later, journalist Thomas Walkom described the budget as following a Keynesian orthodoxy, spending money in the public sector to stimulate employment and productivity. Unfortunately, it did not achieve its stated purpose. The recession was still severe. Walkom described the budget as "the worst of both worlds", angering the business community but not doing enough to provide for public relief.

Labour policy

In April 1991, the government introduced a one-year program to protect the pay of workers whose firms had shut down due to the recession. Labour Minister Bob Mackenzie estimated that the plan would help 56,000 workers.

The government changed its economic focus after 1991, and implemented budget cutbacks to control the province's mounting deficit. His government also brought in the Social Contract, austerity legislation which reopened collective bargaining agreements with the province's public sector unions. This legislation imposed a wage freeze and introduced what became known as "Rae days", giving civil servants (including teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) ten days off without pay per year. These cutbacks led to a falling-out with both the public sector unions, most notably Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and its leader Buzz Hargrove. Sid Ryan, Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, referred to the Social Contract as the worst labour legislation he had ever seen.

This breach between the NDP and the labour movement struck at the party's foundations. The NDP was founded as an alliance between the old Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the labour movement, and Rae's policy decisions alienated many traditional NDP voters. Thousands of members resigned from the party, and several unions turned against the NDP and vowed to defeat the government in the next election. The Rae government later attempted to regain labour support by passing Bill 40, a measure which (among other things) introduced anti-scab provisions to the province. This was not enough to bridge the gap with organized labour, however, and the party was unable to regain significant union support.

Health policy

As Premier, Rae placed a cap on enrollment into medical schools.

Auto insurance

The New Democratic Party campaigned on a promise to introduce public auto insurance in the 1987 and 1990 campaigns. After assuming office, Rae appointed Peter Kormos, one of the most vocal proponents of public insurance, as the minister responsible for bringing forward the policy. With the onset of the recession, however, both business and labour groups expressed concern about layoffs and lost revenues. The government backtracked from the policy in 1991. Kormos, who had already been dropped from cabinet, became Rae's most vocal critic in the NDP caucus.

Social policy

Rae's government attempted to introduce a variety of socially progressive measures during its time in office, though its success in this field was mixed. In 1994, the government introduced legislation, Bill 167, which would have provided for same-sex partnership benefits in the province. At the time, this legislation was seen as a revolutionary step forward for same-sex recognition. It was defeated, however, when twelve NDP MPPs (including two junior ministers) voted against it, while the opposition Liberals led by Lyn McLeod also withdrew their support.

The Rae government established an employment equity commission in 1991, and two years later introduced affirmative action to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aborginals and disabled persons working in the public sector. This policy was controversial, as it cost the NDP support among its unionized working-class base of support.

In November 1990, the Rae government announced that it would restrict most rent increases to 4.6% for the present year and 5.4% for 1991. The provisions for 1990 were made retroactive. Tenants' groups supported these changes, while landlord representatives were generally opposed. Dave Cooke, the minister responsible for implementing the policy, later announced that he would work to factor in the costs of legitimate building renovations.

When campaigning in 1990, Rae promised that he would eliminate food banks through anti-poverty initiatives. After taking office, however, his government committed a significant sum of money to support Ontario's existing food banks. Gerard Kennedy, leader of the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, criticized Rae for not targeting the money toward affordable housing and welfare reforms. In April 1991, Community and Social Services minister Zanana Akande announced that food banks would have to remain open in light of changed economic circumstances. As the recession grew worse, they became an established feature of Ontario life.

Rae increased the basic social assistance allowance by 7% in 1991, and increased the maximum payment for shelter allowances by 10%.

Aboriginal issues

Soon after assuming office in 1990, Rae announced his support for native Canadians' "inherent right to self-government". He later worked to help six aboriginal bands in Northern Ontario gain reserve status, and called for self-government on the Akwesasne Indian Reservemarker, in part to help the reserve leaders combat smuggling. Rae also pushed for native rights to be included in future constitutional reforms.

Energy policy

In November 1990, the Rae government announced an indefinite moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants in Ontario. He consistently opposed plans to privatize Ontario Hydro.

Intergovernmental affairs

In March 1991, Rae announced that he would support a new round of constitutional negotiations between the federal government and the provinces, which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. He indicated that Ontario was willing to recognize Quebecmarker as a distinct society, and called for aboriginal and women's rights to be entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. Rae also supported the creation of a "social charter", to establish national standards for social programs such as medicare.

Early in his term, Rae indicated that his government would continue a long-standing development freeze in Toronto's Harbourfront area, to ensure the survival of cultural programs in the area.

Rae was initially one of the most prominent opponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Canada. During a meeting with Mexicanmarker President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1991, he argued that any proposed North American free trade zone would have to incorporate common environmental and labour standards.

Law enforcement

Rae endorsed Susan Eng's successful bid to chair the Metro Toronto Police Services Board in early 1991, over the opposition of several police officers. Rae later introduced policies requiring Ontario police services to hire more women, disabled people, native Canadians and members of visible minority groups.

Sunday shopping

After assuming office, Rae announced that his government planned to introduce legislation for a "common pause day" across Ontario, "to help strengthen family and community life while protecting small business and the rights of workers". In practice, this initiative would have required many retail establishments to close on Sundays, with exemptions for religious minority communities. Many retail owners opposed this initiative.

Education - A Royal Commission

The Rae government created a Royal Commission on Learning — co-chaired by Gerald Caplan and Monique Bégin - which delivered its report and recommendations: "For the Love of Learning" in January 1995. Among the reports' more prominent recommendations were:

- the creation of a common curriculum for Ontario schools

- the equalization of funding per pupil

- the elimination of grade 13

- the creation of a College of Teachers (recommendation #58)

- the implementation of uniform testing of students at various grade levels.

1995 election

Rae's popularity had recovered somewhat by 1995, but by the time the writs were dropped for that year's provincial election it was obvious that the NDP would not be re-elected.

The official opposition Liberals were expected to be the primary benefactors of the NDP's unpopularity, having recovered from their severe defeat of five years earlier, and leading in opinion polls since 1992. However, several unpopular policy reversals and mistakes by Liberal leader Lyn McLeod allowed Mike Harris and the Tories to benefit from the swing in support away from the NDP. During the leaders' debates, while Rae and McLeod traded barbs, Harris used his camera time to speak directly to the camera about the PC's platform. Several working-class ridings which had long voted NDP became disgruntled with the party due to the Social Contract and affirmative action, so they were attracted by Harris' populism and shifted to the Tories. While the NDP polled considerably better in northern Ontario than it did in 1990, it lost much of its support in rest of the province, especially the 905 region where they had won so many seats five years earlier. In the end the Tories shot from third place to a landslide majority government, sweeping the NDP from power. The Liberals lost six seats, but retained their status as the official opposition, while the NDP fell to only seventeen seats and third place in the Legislative Assembly.

Rae himself was reelected in his own riding by over 3,000 votes. However, on February 29, 1996; he resigned as NDP leader and MPP for York South and moved to positions in law, academia and the private sector. He was eventually succeeded as party leader by Howard Hampton, who was formerly Natural Resources Minister in Rae's cabinet and a longtime left-wing rival. Liberal Gerard Kennedy succeeded Rae as MPP for York South.

Out of politics, out of the NDP

Rae resigned from the New Democratic Party in 1997 due to his appointment to the Security Intelligence Review Committee. There was some speculation that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would appoint him Governor-General in 1999, but he was passed over in favour of Adrienne Clarkson. There was further speculation that Rae would return to the federal Liberals and run under their banner in the 2000 election, though nothing came of this at the time.

Rae was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, and in 2004 he was awarded the Order of Ontario. He was appointed the sixth chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier Universitymarker on July 2, 2003, and was installed at that school's fall convocation in October. Rae also became a partner at Goodmans LLP, a Torontomarker-based corporate law firm, an adjunct professor at the University of Torontomarker, and a Senior Fellow of Massey Collegemarker. He has written two books: From Protest to Power: personal reflections on a life in politics (1996) and Three Questions: Prosperity and the Public Good (1998). He was the national spokesperson for the Leukemia Research Foundation.

Rae helped the Toronto Symphony Orchestra restructure following an extended strike by its musicians at the beginning of the 1999-2000 season.

Rae returned to active politics on April 16, 2002, two days after Mike Harris announced his resignation as premier, with an opinion piece in the National Post newspaper. In an article entitled, "Parting Company with the NDP", Rae strongly criticized what he perceived as a bias against Israelmarker in the federal party, and also criticized the NDP for rejecting Tony Blair's Third Way socialism and for refusing to accept globalization and open markets. He suggested that the party's economic policies were insufficient for the 21st century, and that the party as a whole was no longer "worthy of support".

The Ontario NDP has distanced itself from Rae's policies under Hampton. During the 2003 provincial election, Hampton argued that Rae was wrong to reverse the NDP's commitment to public auto insurance. The party's relations with the labour movement have not completely healed, although the situation has improved since 1993. Relations with the CAW remain especially fraught, and memories of the social contract have hurt the NDP's credibility with a new generation of public sector workers, despite the party's efforts to distance itself from the measure. Nonetheless, the Ontario NDP has never come close to the popularity it enjoyed in the early 1990s, and is still in third place in the Legislative Assembly, losing official party status in the 2003 election.

Rae worked on the Red Cross tainted blood issue and also worked towards a resolution of the fishing conflict in Burnt Church, New Brunswick.

In 2005, Rae wrote a report for the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty on post-secondary education, commonly referred to as the Rae Report. His report called for increased government funding to colleges and universities, and enhanced student aid especially for low-income students. The report also suggested that individual institutions ought to be able to determine what rate of tuition fees to charge, free from government controls, which generated controversy. Student groups including the Canadian Federation of Students have objected, noting the significant recent increases in tuition fees in Ontario under the government of Mike Harris, and the 57 per cent increase in tuition fees during Rae's own tenure as premier. Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton also criticized the report. Rae defended his report, arguing that low income non-university individuals would not benefit from a tuition freeze/lowering, as well as being forced to bear the tax burden needed to enact it.

Rae has also become involved with international issues in recent years. In 2002 and 2003, as chair of the Forum of Federations he helped oversee constitutional discussions between the government of Sri Lankamarker and Tamil Tiger rebels. On April 26, 2005, he was appointed to advise Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan on whether or not there should be a government inquiry into the 1985 Air Indiamarker disaster. On November 23, 2005, Rae recommended further inquiry into the investigation and prosecution.

In July 2005, The Globe and Mail and the National Post both reported that Rae was again being considered for appointment to the position of Governor General. However, Rae was passed over again, this time in favour of Michaëlle Jean.

Return to politics as a Liberal

In a July 2005 interview with Michael Valpy, Rae indicated that he was still committed to public life and public service. Valpy's feature on Rae included a comment by Arlene Perly Rae that he could return to politics if there was a national unity crisis.

On November 23, 2005, Rae presented his recommendations that there should be a formal but focused inquiry into the Air India disaster. Two days later, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan announced Rae's appointment to conduct a limited inquiry into Air India under a government order-in-council. Rae produced a comprehensive report outlining the key issues that could be addressed, leaving Air India Victims' families spokeswoman Lata Pada "encouraged that demands for answers will be addressed".

On August 24, 2005, the Toronto Star reported that Rae was under "mounting pressure" to run for the federal Liberals in the 2006 general election. Though it was unclear how long the Air India inquiry was to last, Rae's appointment precluded any possibility of his running as a candidate in the January 23rd election. A poll by SES Research suggested that Rae was tied for second place behind Frank McKenna as a prospective candidate to lead the federal Liberals. McKenna decided afterwards not to contest the leadership.

The new government of Stephen Harper appointed a judge to handle the Air India inquiry in March 2006 thus releasing Rae from his previous commitment and freeing him for a possible run for the Liberal Party leadership.

In a speech to the Canadian Club of Winnipegmarker on March 13, 2006, Rae expressed his interest in uniting the 'progressive' forces of Canadamarker in order to regain a majority government in the Canadian House of Commons. "There's a progressive record that's shared by a majority of Canadians, but so far, we have not succeeded in becoming a majority in the House of Commons, so we must think a bit about how that can happen."

2006 leadership election

On April 5, 2006, Rae applied for membership in the Liberal Party of Canada. His candidacy for the federal party leadership was supported by Greg Sorbara and George Smitherman, former Chrétien aides Eddie Goldenberg and Rae's brother John, as well as former top Martin advisor John Webster and others associated with the Martin camp. He officially announced his candidacy on April 24, 2006. At his campaign launch he responded to his critics by saying "I made mistakes before I was in politics, I made mistakes when I was in politics, I made mistakes as premier... I can only tell you I have learned from those mistakes and I am the wiser for them.

On May 12, 2006, venerable Trudeau era cabinet minister Allan MacEachen backed Rae's leadership bid becoming honorary campaign chair. On June 16, former Ontario Liberal Party leader and provincial treasurer Robert Nixon, who sat as leader of the opposition to Rae's Ontario government for a time, endorsed Rae. He was also endorsed by MPs Irwin Cotler, Ujjal Dosanjh, Lawrence MacAulay, Diane Marleau and Brian Murphy, as well as several Senators. Rival candidate Maurizio Bevilacqua withdrew from the contest on August 14 to endorse Rae, and Carolyn Bennett did the same on September 15, followed by Hedy Fry on September 25 and John Godfrey on October 20.

On the night of December 1 at the Convention, Rae spoke freely without notes rather than make a formal speech. Rival candidate Joe Volpe announced his support for Rae after the speeches were concluded. On the morning of December 2, after finishing second on the first ballot, rival candidate Scott Brison, moved to Rae and yet another rival candidate, Ken Dryden, moved to him after the second ballot. However, Rae lost his bid for the leadership in the third round of Convention balloting, placing third behind both Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion, who had leapfrogged into first after receiving the support of Gerard Kennedy. Rae then freed his delegates and did not indicate whom he supported on the final ballot; Dion won the leadership.

Despite the loss of the Liberal leadership, Rae has indicated that he would like to run for a federal seat in the House of Commons in the next federal election. On March 7, 2007, Rae announced that he would seek the Liberal nomination in Toronto Centre. On March 26, 2007, he won the party's nomination, defeating Toronto lawyer and human rights advocate Meredith Cartwright with 532 votes to her 267.

Several days following his defeat at the leadership convention it was reported that Rae's wife, Arlene Perly Rae was approached by a delegate who did not know who she was, and who told her that she should not vote for Rae because his wife is Jewish. A flyer was also sent electronically to convention delegates, stating that Rae's wife was a vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and that he was a supporter of Israeli apartheid. The Canadian Press reported that the flyer was produced by Ron Saba, the editor of a small Montreal journal. Newly elected Liberal leader Stéphane Dion issued a press release condemning the "hateful comments" made against Rae and his wife, saying that they are "reprehensible and will not be tolerated within the Liberal Party of Canada," adding that "there is no room for abhorrent comments such as these within our Party."

Rae has since been named as co-chairman of the Liberals' platform development committee, along with Scott Brison. This was part of Dion's strategy to reunite the party by appointing his rivals for the leadership to key posts in the party.

Federal Liberal MP

In the by-election held on March 17, 2008; Rae won handily. Toronto Centre had historically been one of the few ridings in the former Metro Toronto where the old Progressive Conservatives had a realistic chance of winning. However, since 1993, the Liberals have dominated the riding, carrying it by 10,000 votes or more. Rae kept this tradition going; he finished almost 11,000 votes ahead of his closest opponent and with more than 4,400 votes than his five opponents combined (14,187 to 9,764). Rae's candidacy was endorsed by the former Conservative candidate, Mark Warner, who was dropped due to disagreements with the party on social and urban issues. Rae had denounced the Tories' decision to drop Warner, calling it a "national disgrace."

Rae officially returned to Parliament on March 31, 2008 after a 25-year absence. He was immediately promoted to the Liberal shadow cabinet, and served as Foreign Affairs critic (shadow foreign minister). In that role he publicly supported the Iraq War resisters seeking asylum in Canada --both before, and during, the 2008 election campaign. He was re-elected to his Commons' seat in the fall 2008 federal election. When Dion announced that he would resign the leadership in May 2009 after the party's poor results, Rae became a candidate in the ensuing Liberal leadership race.

Rae took part in key negotiations which would have seen the Liberals form a coalition with the NDP, with supply by the Bloc Québécois. They planned to pass a motion of non-confidence in the Conservative government, not unlike what Rae had done in 1979 and 1985. After Prime Minister Harper convinced the Governor General to prorogue parliament on December 4, 2008, and with Dion pressured to immediately resign as party leader, Rae took on the role of coalition spokesman.

Rae had less support than in the previous leadership contest, with his 2006 campaign co-chair now supporting Ignatieff. Rae dropped out on December 9, 2008.

Electoral record

Bob Rae
El-Farouk Khaki
Chris Tindal
Donald Meredith
Animal Alliance
Liz White
Doug Plumb
Liberal hold


Detained in Sri Lanka

On June 9, 2009, Rae was denied entry by Sri Lankan Immigration officials at the Bandaranaike International Airportmarker, Colombo, Sri Lankamarker on grounds that he was "a threat to national security and sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers rebel group". Rae responded that "Sri Lanka is afraid of dialogue, afraid of discussion, afraid of engagement...If this is how they treat me, imagine how they treat people who can't speak out." Rae has described Sri Lanka as 'a very dangerous place to be a journalist. "It's a very dangerous place to be any kind of Tamil right now and this is nuts."


  1. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 22, 25.
  2. Rae, Protest to Power, p. 28.
  3. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 34-35.
  4. Rae, Protest to Power, p. 33.
  5. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 38-40.
  6. Rae, Protest to Power, p. 57.
  7. "Prize awaits Rae, regardless of what happens today", The Globe and Mail, 18 February 1980, p. 8.
  8. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 75-76.
  9. "Critics offer amendments to Bank Act", The Globe and Mail, 3 June 1980, p. B4; "Lower rates in U.S. hurt Canada, MP says", The Globe and Mail, 11 July 1980, p. 1.
  10. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 78-79.
  11. "Rae's skills earn ex-leader's support", by Sylvia Stead, The Globe and Mail, 14 January 1982, p. 3; "Labor delegates looking to Rae as NDP leader", by Wilfred List and Sylvia Stead, The Globe and Mail, 28 January 1982, p. 18.
  12. Rae, Protest to Power, pp. 84-85.
  13. Rae, Protest to Power, p. 85; Sylvia Stead, "Rae expects tough fight from Tories, Liberals in by-election", Globe and Mail, 7 July 1982, P5.
  14. Rae, Protest to Power, p. 88.
  15. Scott White, "Campaign expense limits part of Liberal-NDP pact", Globe and Mail, 10 March 1986, A5; Denise Harrington and William Walker, "'It's an historic day for Ontarians', Rae says; Extra-billing is banned", Toronto Star, 20 June 1986, A1; James C. Simeon, "Two years later, NDP-Liberal pact proves a success", Globe and Mail, 28 April 1987, A7.
  16. For instance, see Robert Sheppard, "Rae says he can live with 'extremely modest effort'", Globe and Mail, 25 October 1985, A12. Despite his concerns about the Peterson government's first budget, Rae announced that his party would support it.
  17. Regina Hickl-Szabo, "Black owes apology to his workers, Wrye says", Globe and Mail, 7 February 1986, A4. Black later described the store's workers as "slovenly".
  18. Erika Rosenfeld, "Rae calls for reform of human rights laws", Globe and Mail, 14 April 1986, A15.
  19. Rosemary Speirs, "Rae grapples with dissenters in his own party", Toronto Star, 28 May 2006, A15.
  20. William Walker, "Rae asks NDP to end infighting after re-election as party leader", Toronto Star, 23 June 1986, A3. Rae defeated Orenstein by 776 votes to 38.
  21. William Walker, "High-profile New Democrats endorse Rae", Toronto Star, 28 September 1989, A15.
  22. Ross Howard, "Ontario vote brokers vex New Democrats in West", Globe and Mail, 22 November 1989, A15; "Most of party's big names supported McLaughlin", Toronto Star, 3 December 1989, A13.
  23. Bob Rae, "Kremlin response to Lithuania says nyet to freedom", Globe and Mail, 29 March 1990, A7; Bob Rae, "Canada should support Lithuania", Toronto Star', 4 May 1990, A27.
  24. William Walker, "NDP turned on by Rae's new style", Toronto Star, 5 August 1990, B4.
  25. "Ontario NDP tops Liberals in latest poll", Globe and Mail, 1 September 1990, A4.
  26. Kathleen Kenna, "52 per cent back NDP, Ontario poll shows", Toronto Star, 28 March 1991, A5.
  27. "Tory support plunges to record 12%", Toronto Star, 17 January 1991, A23.
  28. Daniel Girard, "NDP housing promise in jeopardy, Cooke says", Toronto Star, 23 January 1991, A28.
  29. James Rusk, "Fiscal news all bad for NDP", Globe and Mail, 1 October 1990, B1.
  30. Derek Ferguson, "Rae blasts Ottawa's 'medieval' economics", Toronto Star, 4 November 1990, A4.
  31. Derek Ferguson and Matt Maychak, "Ontario puts welfare reforms on hold", Toronto Star, 27 February 1991, A1.
  32. Matt Maychak, "'Recession -fighting' budget takes from rich, gives to poor, punishes the sinful", Toronto Star, 30 April 1991, A17.
  33. Matt Maychak, "Ontario to protect pay when firms crash", Toronto Star, 12 April 1991, A13.
  34. Carolyn Pedwell, " Province gives med schools a boost More spaces and free tuition offers aimed at solving health care woes", The Journal – Queen’s University, September 8, 2000.
  35. Derek Ferguson, "Minister says he'll propose public system", Toronto Star, 2 October 1990, A9.
  36. James Daw, "Auto plan could cost $1.6 billion firms say", Toronto Star, 7 February 1991, C1; James Rusk, "Car insurance study gets attention", Globe and Mail, 4 April 1991, B6.
  37. Richard Mackie, "Rae defends choice of equity boss", Globe and Mail, 19 February 1991, A10.
  38. Matt Maychak, "New rules on landlords' expenses limit most '91 rent hikes to 5.4%", Toronto Star', 29 November 1990, A1; Jane Armstrong, "Landlords say they may sue province over curbs on rent", Toronto Star', 29 November 1990, A3. A few days after the policy announcement, a landlord group placed a $25,000 advertisement in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that investors avoid Ontario. (Richard Mackie, "Rae attacks landlords for placing ad", Globe and Mail, 1 December 1990, A6.) Their decision was widely criticized.
  39. Derek Ferguson and Andrew Duffy, "Cooke hints at policy flip as 800 protest rent controls", Toronto Star, 12 December 1990, A2.
  40. Mike Trickey, "Poor marks for Rae on welfare reform", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 5 April 1991, A7.
  41. Mary Gooderham, "Can't shut food banks, NDP says", Globe and Mail, 9 April 1991, A1.
  42. Nate Laurie, "The real facts on 'generous' welfare" [opinion piece], Toronto Star, 18 April 1991, A29.
  43. "Siddon set to discuss autonomy for Indians", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 4 October 1990, B8.
  44. "Darts and Laurels", Toronto Star, 27 October 1990, D2.
  45. "Rae stand on self-rule earns native praise", Globe and Mail, 21 January 1991, A6.
  46. "Rae urges action on native rights", Canadian Press, 6 November 1990, A4.
  47. Linda Hossie, "Nuclear power program frozen", Globe and Mail, 21 November 1990, A8.
  48. Derek Ferguson and Matt Maychak, "Energy Probe given money to fight Hydro", Toronto Star, 12 April 1991, A1.
  49. Matt Maychak, "Don't gut federal power: Rae", Toronto Star, 28 March 1991, A12.
  50. Christopher Harris and Margaret Polanyi, "Development freeze to be maintained", Globe and Mail, 16 January 1991, C3.
  51. Gene Allen and Patricia Poirier, "Rae fails to sway", Globe and Mail, 10 April 1991, A6.
  52. "Rae supports tax lawyer for head of police board", Globe and Mail, 28 March 1991, A5.
  53. Matt Maychak and Lisa Priest, "Police told they must hire more women", Toronto Star, 11 April 1991, A3.
  54. Gerald Vandezande, "Court battle is over" [opinion piece], Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 11 April 1991, A7.
  55. Ministry or Education of Ontario - "For the Love of Learning" - Report of the Royal Commission on Learning - Jan 1005
  56. Campbell, Murray. A new day for Bob Rae: 'I am what I am'. The Globe and Mail. September 23, 2006. [1]
  57. Rae, Bob. Lessons to be Learned. 2005
  58. [2]
  62. National
  64. Rae still aims to seek a seat in Parliament
  65. Statement from Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion Regarding the Anti-Semitic Comments Made Against Bob Rae and Arlene Perly Rae, December 8, 2006
  66. Tories drop 2 would-be Ontario candidates

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