Speaker, Writer. Political Leader. Active on First Nations, Social Justice, International issues. Liberal.
Over a career that has spanned three decades, including serving as Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995, Bob Rae has worked at the highest levels of government in Canada, and has been elected eleven times to federal and provincial parliaments.
From 1996 to 2007, he worked as a partner in the law firm, Goodmans LLP, one of Canada’s leading international law firms. His clients included companies, trade unions, charitable and non-governmental organizations, and governments themselves.
During this period, Bob Rae was appointed a special advisor to the Canadian Minister of Public Safety on the Air India bombing of 1985. His report, Lessons to be Learned was published in November of 2005.
He also completed a review of Ontario’s Postsecondary School Education for the Ontario Provincial government. The resulting 2005 report entitled Ontario: A Leader in Learning led to significant policy and budgetary changes.
Bob Rae has proudly served the people of Toronto Centre in Ottawa as their Member of Parliament since March 2008, and was twice named “Best Orator” by Macleans Magazine in its annual survey of parliamentarians.
Until recently, he served as Foreign Affairs Critic for the Liberal Party of Canada. In June 2011, he became interim Liberal Leader.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Bob Rae has a B.A. and an LLB from the University of Toronto and was a Rhodes Scholar from Ontario in 1969. He obtained a B.Phil degree from Oxford University in 1971 and was named a Queen’s Counsel in 1984.
Bob Rae lives in Toronto with his wife Arlene Perly Rae. He and Arlene have three daughters, Judith, Lisa and Eleanor.
He has written four books, published by McClelland & Stewart:
•From Protest to Power: Reflections on a Life in Politics (1997)
•The Three Questions: Prosperity and the Public Good (1999)
•Canada in the Balance (2006)
•Exporting Democracy: The Risks and Rewards of Pursuing a Good Idea (2010)
A former chairman of the Royal Conservatory and Toronto Symphony, Bob Rae is an avid music lover. He enjoys playing tennis and golfing, and is happiest when out fishing on the lake at his cottage near Portland, Ontario.
Bob Rae was appointed to Her Majesty’s Privy Council for Canada in 1998, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Ontario in 2004.
He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards from Canadian and foreign universities, colleges, and organizations.
Mr. Harper gave an eloquent apology for the truly disastrous and racist policy of forcing First Nations children into residential schools, but the government never followed those words with the actions that would show any seriousness of purpose. For all the rhetoric about nation building, the unresolved relationship between indigenous people and other Canadians and their governments stands out emphatically as nothing less than our national shame.
Just after Christmas I got an e-mail telling me that a talented and lively 29-year-old son of the chief of Neskantaga First Nation had taken his own life. Two days later came the news of the death of Chris Peloso, the gentle man who was George Smitherman's husband and a personal friend. Chris lost his battle with depression. Mental health is the weakest link in our health care system, but more important it is still the issue that hides away from much conversation. There are still too few places outside a health care setting where the issue is addressed, as if mental health and addiction are still taboos not to be mentioned in polite company.
In my recent travels and discussions with seasoned foreign policy experts and politicians in the U.S. and Europe, I haven't met one who took Canada seriously anymore, except as a posturer, a poseur, a political game player. Canada is seen as the international equivalent of a Ted Cruz filibuster in the Senate. Is this really the best we can do?
I have decided to return to my profession as a lawyer and mediator, to continue working for the Matawa Tribal Council, and to step down as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre. This has been a difficult personal decision. I was first elected to Parliament in 1978, and was deeply honoured to have had the chance to serve again these past five years, as well as to lead the Liberal Party at a time of change and renewal. Helping to improve the life of First Nations people has been a long-standing commitment of mine, and this opportunity to serve is one I felt I could not decline.
The recent flurry about patriating the Canadian constitution has brought back a flood of memories, and some reflections. Patriation was not an exercise in partisanship. Neither was the Charter. The origins of the desire to "bring the Constitution home" go back decades.
The Liberals have been defeated badly before and have been able to come back. Defeats are serious, but we should never make the mistake of thinking them permanent. We owe each other; we owe generations to come, a re-commitment to the enduring strength of the liberal idea. We are fighting for prosperity for all Canadians -- social justice for all -- and a sustainable society and economy for all Canadians. The values and approach of the Liberal party matter to too many Canadians for us to ever think of abdicating the important role we all will share in shaping the Canada of tomorrow.
In a widely contested 1968 leadership race that went to several ballots, Pierre Trudeau emerged as the winner, and quickly called the election that led to the first majority Liberal government in 15 years. Trudeau served as prime minister for nearly sixteen years, the longest since Mackenzie King.
I am a Liberal because I believe that love is better than hate, because I believe in celebrating success and never resenting it, and because I do not mock failure. I believe in enough government to help us all achieve success, but not too much government to stifle initiative and creativity.
The government's budget plan is a political smoke screen, replete with gimmicks designed to convince Canadians that the Conservatives, somehow, are in fact balancing the books. This could not be further from the truth. Canada's needs have clearly taken a back seat to the needs of the Conservative Party.
The issues Chief Spence is raising -- terrible living conditions, deep neglect, poverty and powerlessness -- will not go away, and will not disappear in the face of attack. They are the shame of our nation and must be addressed. But the Conservatives have rejected replacing the Indian Act with a real transfer of power, and the implementation of the self government agreements which all Canadian governments agreed to in Charlottetown 20 years ago. They have offered nothing that even begins to address the issues. We shall all pay a heavy price for this lack of leadership.