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Perrault was born in Vancouver, British Columbia a family with strong Liberal roots. His maternal grandfather came from Ontario and enlisted to quell the Metis rebellion led by Louis Riel. His paternal grandfather came from Quebec, where Riel had been a hero. Perrault was educated at Sir Guy Carleton school and John Oliver high school in Vancouver.
After graduating from the University of British Columbia with degrees in economics and political science, he became a communications consultant, working in radio, public relations and advertising. He entered politics in his thirties, becoming leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party in 1959. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 1960 provincial election in which the Liberals won fours seats in the legislature (an increase from two in the previous election), and won 20.9% of the popular vote.
In the 1963 election, the Liberals gained one more Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), for a total of five, while their share of the popular vote fell to 19.98%. In Perrault's final election as leader in 1966, the party won an additional seat, and a modest increase in the vote to 20.24%.
He remained an MLA until he resigned in 1968 to entered federal politics in the 1968 federal election. He won a seat in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP), defeating New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas by just 152 votes, earning him the nickname "Landslide Ray". He was defeated in the next election in 1972.
When the Liberals lost power in the 1979 election, Perrault became Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He resumed his position as government leader when the Liberals returned to power in the 1980 election. In 1982, he was reassigned to the position of Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport, and served in that position until leaving cabinet in August 1983.
He remained in the Senate until his retirement in 2001.
Perrault served on the board of the Terry Fox Foundation. A lifelong follower of sports, Perrault served as a director of the Vancouver Canucks and honorary chairman of the Vancouver Canadians baseball team. In the 1980s, he was part of a failed effort to bring a Major League Baseball team to Vancouver.
He died on November 24, 2008 at the age of 82, leaving behind his wife Barbara and their three children.
- Doug Ward (November 24, 2008). "Former B.C. senator Ray Perrault dies after battle with Parkinson’s Disease". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
|20th Ministry – First cabinet of Pierre Trudeau|
|Cabinet Post (1)|
|Paul Joseph James Martin||Leader of the Government in the Senate
|22nd Ministry – Second cabinet of Pierre Trudeau|
|Cabinet Post (1)|
|Jacques Flynn||Leader of the Government in the Senate
|Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada