Hon. Robert “Bob” Keith Rae, commonly referred to as Bob, has been a genuine friend and avid supporter of the African Canadian community.
To borrow from Share newspaper columnist, Patrick Hunter, “As Premier of Ontario, Rae brought many changes that recognized and responded to the needs of the Black community more than anyone since.”
He appointed Ontario’s first Black female member of Cabinet, Zanana Akande, and another African Canadian, Fran Endicott, as Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission; and, quoting Hunter again, Rae spare-headed “the process toward development of the Employment Equity Act, and the change of focus and importance of the Race Relations Directorate to the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat”.
Hunter continued, “On May 4, 1992, when a demonstration on Yonge Street, protesting the dismissal of charges against Los Angeles police officers, who were filmed beating Black motorist, Rodney King, erupted into violence and vandalism, Rae met with community leaders and listened.
“Recognizing that there was more to the story, he asked former UN Ambassador, Stephen Lewis, to look into the problems and report back.
“Lewis did just that, replying in the form of a letter with the heading, ‘Dear Bob’, which informed a program of wide-ranging changes to address anti-Black racism in the province.”
Born on August 2, 1948, in Ottawa, Ontario, Rae was elected 11 times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature between 1978 and 2013.
He was Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995, and served as interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013.
Since retiring from politics, he is now working as a lawyer, negotiator, mediator, and arbitrator, with a particular focus on first nations, aboriginal, and governance issues.
He also teaches at the University of Toronto’s School of Governance and Public Policy, and is a widely respected writer and commentator.
An author of five books and many studies and reports, Rae is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and has numerous awards and honorary degrees from institutions in Canada and around the world.
He is married to Arlene Perly Rae, a writer and speaker, and they have three children.