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Bob Rae

Robert Keith Rae (born August 2, 1948) was the twenty-first Premier of Ontario, and the first to represent the New Democratic Party in that role. He served as premier from October 1, 1990 to June 28, 1995.

The Hon. Bob Rae
Term of Office:October 1, 1990 - June 28, 1995
Predecessor:David Peterson
Successor:Mike Harris
Spouse:Arlene Perly Rae
Date of Birth:August 2, 1948
Place of Birth:Ottawa, Ontario
Political Party:NDP

Rae was born in Ottawa and attended the University of Toronto where he received his law degree. He was known as a spectacular student and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied under Isaiah Berlin.

Before becoming premier of Ontario, Rae had a long career in both federal and provincial politics and was one of the best-known faces of the NDP. His win of the 1990 election was something of a shock to everyone. Liberal premier David Peterson had called an early election only three years into his mandate because he was so sure of re-election. The early call, combined with a weak campaign and the recent Harbourfront Scandal, weakened his voter base, as a result of which Rae and the NDP were vaulted into office with just 37 per cent of the popular vote.

The NDP had never governed before, and North America was in the depth of the worst recession since the Great Depression, which accounts for why they only lasted one term in office. Rae quickly backtracked on a number of campaign promises, most notably the introduction of public auto insurance. In addition, a number of cabinet scandals quickly cut into the government's popularity.

As the recession wore on, Rae realized that cuts needed to be made and that the province needed to be made more competitive, but this led to a falling-out with labour leader Bob White. The revenue-raising idea of photo-radar also led to a sharp decrease in popularity. In an effort to cut back civil service spending without layoffs, "Rae days" were introduced, giving civil servants (including teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) ten days off without pay per year.

In 1995 the party faced re-election and lost. Rae resigned and moved to positions in academia and the private sector. He is still a popular figure, and there have been many attempts by the federal Liberal party to recruit him.

In retrospect, Rae was the unluckiest of all the Ontario premiers. Although his government did a lot to help people, Rae suffered the misfortune of ruling through an economic crisis, which was in no way his fault. In this respect, he suffered the same fate as former British Prime Minister James Callaghan. He was doubly unlucky in that, although his policies resulted in an economic recovery, it was only after his term of office had ended.

Bob Rae was appointed the sixth chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University on July 2, 2003, and will be installed at that school's fall convocation in October.

Preceded by:
David Peterson
List of Ontario premiers Succeeded by:
Mike Harris