Calder first became a Liberal candidate in 1988, unsuccessfully contesting the Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe electoral district. His second attempt in the 1993 election was successful, defeating Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Perrin Beatty, making him a member of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government in the 35th Canadian Parliament. He won in the 1997 and 2000 national elections in the redistributed Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey riding. He held various committee posts during his terms of office, mostly relating to agriculture. In 2003 he served as Parliamentary Secretary to International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew and sat on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. From 2001 to 2003 he served as Chair of National Liberal Rural Caucus.
He teamed up with Progressive Conservative Senator Lowell Murray to pass a bill in 2002 to designate the Canadian Horse as Canada's national horse. Calder also worked to obtain changes in federal tax laws to benefit fire fighters, including a change allowing them to accrue pensions at a higher rate so they could retire early with a full pension. He worked with Senator Lorna Milne to campaign for public access to post 1901 Canada Census data, an issue of special interest to genealogists.
- Murray Calder – Parliament of Canada biography
- CBC Canada Votes 2004: Dufferin-Caledon riding profile
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