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Bob Rae, rookie NDP MP

The Story

Rookie MP Bob Rae has been "very, very busy." The NDP member was elected MP for Toronto's Broadview riding in a 1978 byelection. As the announcer in this 1979 CBC-TV clip points out, this short term as an MP meant Rae had to rush off to Ottawa with "little more than a change of socks and a toothbrush." He's been staying with friends in their Ottawa basement during the week, then returning to Toronto on weekends. Rae admits it's been a steep learning curve, but he's eager to rise to the challenge.

Medium: Television
Program: CBLT News
Broadcast Date: March 7, 1979
Guest(s): Bob Rae
Reporter: Joe Coté
Duration: 1:01

Did You know?

• Robert Keith (Bob) Rae was born in Ottawa on Aug. 2, 1948. As his father was a Canadian diplomat, Rae spent some of his childhood in Washington, D.C. and delivered newspapers to a number of influential Washingtonians, including Richard Nixon.

• Rae was involved in student politics at the University of Toronto in the late 1960s and went on to graduate studies in politics at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Upon retuning to Canada, he became a member of the NDP, although he came from a family of Liberals. He ran for Parliament in a 1978 byelection and won by 420 votes.

• Rae left federal politics in 1982 to become leader of the Ontario NDP. In 1985 he formed a coalition government with Ontario Liberal Leader David Peterson, but it only lasted two years.

• In 1990 Rae led the NDP to its first (and, as of 2011, only) victory as the ruling party in Ontario. Beset by a recession in the early 1990s, Rae introduced a cost-saving measure of mandatory unpaid days off for government workers that would forever remain known, derisively, as "Rae Days." (Manitoba also imposed unpaid days off; they were dubbed "Filmon Fridays," named for the Progressive Conservative premier.) The NDP was ousted from office in 1995, and Rae left politics the following year.

• When the federal Liberal leadership race opened up in 2006 after the resignation of Paul Martin, Rae surprised some by becoming a Liberal and seeking the job. He was considered a front-runner, alongside Michael Ignatieff, but both were ultimately defeated when Stéphane Dion came from behind to claim the leadership.

• He returned to Parliament in March 2008 after winning the riding of Toronto Centre in a byelection.

• An accomplished pianist, Rae once performed a song of his own on MuchMusic and spoke at CBC's 2008 tribute to musician Oscar Peterson.

• Another hobby is skinny-dipping, which he famously did before the cameras on CBC-TV's Rick Mercer Report in 2006.

• After Michael Ignatieff stepped down as Liberal leader due to the party's poor showing in the 2011 federal election, Bob Rae became interim Liberal leader on May 25, 2011. He stepped aside when new leader Justin Trudeau was chosen on Apr. 14, 2013.


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