Rob Nicholson

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The Honourable
Robert Nicholson
Rob Nicholson 2013 crop.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
February 9, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by John Baird
Minister of National Defence
In office
July 15, 2013 – February 9, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Peter MacKay
Succeeded by Jason Kenney
Minister of Justice
In office
January 4, 2007 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Vic Toews
Succeeded by Peter MacKay
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 4, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Tony Valeri
Succeeded by Peter Van Loan
Minister responsible for Democratic Reform
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 4, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Belinda Stronach (Democratic Renewal)
Succeeded by Peter Van Loan
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Niagara Falls
Assumed office
June 28, 2004
Preceded by Gary Pillitteri
In office
September 4, 1984 – October 25, 1993
Preceded by Al MacBain
Succeeded by Gary Pillitteri
Personal details
Born (1952-04-29) April 29, 1952 (age 62)
Niagara Falls, Canada
Political party Progressive Conservative (Before 2003)
Conservative (2003–present)
Spouse(s) Arlene Nicholson
Alma mater Queen's University
University of Windsor
Religion Roman Catholicism

Robert Douglas "Rob" Nicholson, PC, QC, MP (born April 29, 1952), is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. He is a current member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Niagara Falls for the Conservative Party and the former Minister of National Defence, Minister of Justice, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Early life[edit]

Nicholson was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario.[1] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen's University and a law degree from the University of Windsor. Nicholson practised law before entering politics, and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.[1]

Political career[edit]

1984–1993 first tenure in the House of Commons[edit]

Nicholson was first elected to parliament in the federal election of 1984 as a Progressive Conservative, defeating New Democrat Richard Harrington and incumbent Liberal Al MacBain. He was re-elected by a narrower margin in the 1988 election, defeating Liberal Gary Pillitteri by fewer than 2,000 votes.

During the 33rd Canadian Parliament, he served on the standing committees responsible for justice (vice-chairman), foreign affairs, national defence and transport. Nicholson also served on the special committee on child care.[2]

During the 34th Canadian Parliament, he continued to serve on the justice committee was also named a parliamentary secretary, supporting the Government House Leader (1989-1990) and the Attorney General of Canada (1989-1993) in Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney's government.

Campbell government[edit]

Following Kim Campbell's appointment as prime minister, Nicholson joined the cabinet as Minister for Science and Minister responsible for Small Business.[3]

As with all of his caucus colleagues save for Jean Charest, he was defeated in the 1993 election, finishing third against Gary Pillitteri and Reformer Mel Grunstein.

1993–2004 Municipal politics[edit]

Nicholson was elected as a trustee for the Niagara Catholic District School Board in 1994. He was elected to the Niagara Regional Council later in 1997, and was re-elected in 2000, and 2003.[2] He ran for Chairman of the Regional Municipality of Niagara in late 2003, but lost to St. Catharines Regional Councillor Peter Partington.

He attempted to regain his old Commons seat in the 1997 election, but again finished third. He did not seek election to the Commons in the 2000 election.

2004–present Return to the House of Commons[edit]

The Progressive Conservatives merged with the Canadian Alliance as the Conservative Party of Canada in early 2004, and Nicholson joined the new party. He was narrowly returned to parliament in the 2004 election, defeating Liberal Victor Pietrangelo by more than 1,000 votes.

Nicholson served as Shadow Transportation Critic from July 2004 to January 2005. He was appointed Chief Opposition Whip on January 28, 2005.[2]

During the 38th Canadian Parliament, he was one of only two members of the 99-member Conservative caucus in the Commons who had previously served in the federal cabinet.

Harper government[edit]

He was re-elected in the 2006 election and appointed to the Harper cabinet as Government House Leader.[1]

Nicholson was appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in early 2007. He replaced Vic Toews as Justice Minister during a Cabinet shuffle on January 4, 2007. Peter Van Loan replaced Nicholson as Government House Leader.

In the July 15, 2013 cabinet shuffle, Nicholson switched portfolios with Peter Mackay and became the Minister of Defence.[4]

Canadian Afghan detainee issue[edit]

On March 13, 2010, Nicholson released the terms of reference for the appointment of Frank Iacobucci as an Independent Adviser. Iacobucci will conduct an independent review of documents related to the transfer of detainees by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.[5][6]

This statement comes after Richard Colvin spoke before a parliamentary committee stating that he warned for a full year that detainees Canadian troops handed over to Afghan forces faced torture before the government began to monitor them. “London, The Hague and Canberra [Australia] are deeply concerned about the absence of solid legal protections for detainees, which – in the age of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib – imperils domestic support for the Afghanistan mission,” said the memo of December 4, 2006, written by diplomat Richard Colvin.[7][8] Amir Attaran also brought forward testimony in stark contrast to then Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan David Sproule's. Afgan prisoners testified that after capture by Canadians, they were subsequently handed to the custody of the Afghan National Army (ANA), claiming they were later been abused by the ANA.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson". 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  2. ^ a b c Parliament of Canada. "Member of Parliament Profile: Hon. Rob Nicholson". Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  3. ^ "The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson". Prime Minister of Canada. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Harper cabinet shakeup adds new faces". CBC. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Taber, Jane (March 13, 2010). "Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announces full terms of review — The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  6. ^ "Minister of Justice Releases Terms of Reference for Independent Adviser to Review National Security Informatione". Justice. 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  7. ^ Wherry, Aaron (2010-03-12). "What might have been (II) - Beyond The Commons, Capital Read". Macleans. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  8. ^ Clark, Campbell (December 18, 2009). "'The buck stopped nowhere' at Foreign Affairs on Colvin's warnings — The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 

External links[edit]

25th Ministry – Cabinet of Kim Campbell
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
' Minister of Science
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Title Successor
' Minister responsible for Small Business
28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Special Parliamentary Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Peter Van Loan
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Title Successor
Belinda Stronach
as Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal
Minister responsible for Democratic Reform
Peter Van Loan
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Vic Toews Minister of Justice
Peter MacKay
Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence
Jason Kenney
Ed Fast
Minister of Foreign Affairs