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Rob Oliphant

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Robert Oliphant
Oliphant in 2023
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
May 3, 2019
MinisterChrystia Freeland
Francois-Philippe Champagne
Marc Garneau
Mélanie Joly
Preceded byAndrew Leslie
Chairman of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
In office
February 4, 2016 – May 9, 2019
Preceded byDaryl Kramp
Succeeded bySalma Zahid
Member of Parliament
for Don Valley West
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded byJohn Carmichael
In office
October 14, 2008 – May 2, 2011
Preceded byJohn Godfrey
Succeeded byJohn Carmichael
Personal details
Born (1956-06-07) June 7, 1956 (age 68)
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
SpouseMarco A. Fiola
Residence(s)Sherwood Park,[1] Toronto, Ontario
Alma materUniversity of Toronto (BCom)
University of British Columbia (MDiv)
Chicago Theological Seminary (DMin)
ProfessionUnited Church minister and health charity executive

Robert B. Oliphant[1] PC MP (born June 7, 1956) is a Canadian politician and a United Church minister. He served in the House of Commons as a Liberal Member of Parliament for the Toronto riding of Don Valley West from 2008 to 2011. He returned to office after re-election in 2015 and subsequently in 2019.

Oliphant currently holds the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, a role he also served under Joly's three predecessors.

Personal life[edit]

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Oliphant studied commerce and art at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1978, with a Bachelor of Commerce. While at university he rowed on the men's varsity rowing crew, and was involved in music and student politics.

Oliphant lives in Sherwood Park, Toronto with his husband, Marco A. Fiola, the principal of York University - Glendon Campus.

Church career[edit]

Upon graduating from the University of Toronto, Oliphant returned to Sault Ste. Marie and worked at Algoma Steel as an accountant in computer systems development. He remained in Sault Ste. Marie for two years before entering the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia. He was sponsored as a candidate for ministry by his home church, Central United Church in Sault Ste. Marie. After completing his Master of Divinity studies at UBC, Oliphant was ordained as a United Church minister in 1984. He has been stationed in diverse communities such as Montreal, Toronto, Quyon, Quebec, Newfoundland and Whitehorse.

Between 1999 and 2008, Oliphant was a member of the Team Ministry at Eglinton St. George's United Church in Toronto, one of the largest congregations in the United Church of Canada. In 2004, he was given an award for 18 years of continuous work in interfaith dialogue.

On May 17, 2008, Oliphant obtained his Doctorate of Ministry (D.Min.) from the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Oliphant served as the president and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada from 2011 to 2015, before being re-elected to the House of Commons as the representative for Don Valley West in the 2015 federal election.

Political involvement prior to election[edit]

Oliphant worked as a senior advisor in the Ontario government. In 1989, he was asked by then-Premier David Peterson to work in a senior role in the Premier's office. He subsequently went on to serve as Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff to two ministers, Mavis Wilson, Ontario Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, and Christine Hart, Ontario Minister of Culture and Communications.

Oliphant has worked on many campaigns at both the federal and provincial levels and has held official positions in the party. He was an active young Liberal serving as President of the University of Toronto Liberal Club, Chair of "Youth for Peterson", and served on the Executive of the Ontario New (Young) Liberals. In anticipation of a federal election in 1978, Oliphant was part of a group of young Liberals who trained in tour operations for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He has worked in campaigns in Sault Ste. Marie, for candidates including Alex Sinclair and Ron Irwin, in Toronto, for Margaret Campbell, Roy MacLaren, Carolyn Bennett, Allan Rock and several others, and in Yukon, for former Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Shirley Adamson. During the 2006 federal leadership race, Oliphant was an advisor to Michael Ignatieff's campaign.

In December 2006, columnist Michael Valpy mentioned Oliphant's name as a possible contender for the federal Liberal nomination for Toronto Centre should Bill Graham decide not to seek re-election.[2] It was subsequently reported in January 2007 that Oliphant was hosting exploratory meetings in the riding.[3] However, Oliphant did not pursue this bid, deferring to former NDP Premier Bob Rae who became the Liberal candidate in this riding.

In January 2008, Oliphant sought the federal Liberal nomination of Don Valley West after John Godfrey announced his retirement.[4] Others interested in the nomination included former Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte,[5][6] prominent constitutional expert Deborah Coyne, local imam Abdul Ingar, and Jonathan Mousley.[7] During the nomination process, Coyne accused Oliphant and Bulte supporters of signing up members who hadn't paid a membership fee, a violation of party rules. Members of the press contacted several people who had signed up as members who confirmed they had not paid a fee. Oliphant replied that he had instructed his campaign team to follow the rules.[8]

On February 25, 2008, Coyne withdrew from the nomination race and endorsed Oliphant.[9] On March 2, 2008, he won the nomination in the fourth round of voting to become the Liberal party candidate in the federal by-election.[9] The by-election had been called for September 22, 2008,[10] but this was cancelled in the wake of the general election called for October 14, 2008.[11]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Oliphant was elected to the House of Commons on October 14, 2008.[12]

He was named to the Shadow Cabinet by Stéphane Dion as Critic for Veterans Affairs in November 2008.[13] He was appointed to the same post by Michael Ignatieff in October 2009. On September 7, 2010, in announcing the team of Opposition Critics, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff named Oliphant to the Multiculturalism post.

He served as the co-chair of the Canada-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, treasurer-secretary of the Canada-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group and vice-chair of the All-Party Arts Caucus, the Liberal Caucus' Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison with Queen's Park on Ontario Issues, and the Federal Caucus Liaison of the Ontario Young Liberals.

In the 2011 election, Oliphant was defeated by the Conservative candidate John Carmichael.[14] Four years later, he reclaimed the riding, defeating Carmichael in a rematch.[15]

Oliphant was elected to the House of Commons on October 19, 2015, representing the federal riding of Don Valley West.

In May 2016, Rob rose in the House of Commons to co-sponsor Bill C-233, an Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, at second reading.[16] The bill legislated the creation of a National Alzheimer's and other Dementias Strategy. The Liberal government put $50 million over 10 years towards the strategy to fund awareness, research, and care and support for patients, families and caregivers all living with the challenges of dementia.[17]

In March 2017, Oliphant successfully sponsored and revived a previous Senate Private Member's Bill (PMB) initiated by former Senator Jim Cowan known as (S-201) which sought to implement national penalties against genetic discrimination. This novel PMB was not supported by the government but passed successfully during its third reading due to Liberal backbenchers voting against Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould's suggested amendments, which would have limited the scope of the bill. [18]

On May 3, 2019, Oliphant was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[19] He had previously served as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Oliphant then worked closely with the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Rob is also Co-Chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and the Canada-Pakistan Friendship Group.[20] He served as Co-Chair of the House of Commons and Senate Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and as Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security from 2015 to 2017.[21]

He was re-elected in the 2019 federal election and has been serving as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs since May 3, 2019. Oliphant was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council on December 3, 2021.[22][23]

Electoral record[edit]

2021 Canadian federal election: Don Valley West
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Rob Oliphant 24,798 52.7 -3.1 $98,666.75
Conservative Yvonne Robertson 16,695 35.5 +4.3 $93,591.10
New Democratic Syeda Riaz 3,814 8.1 +0.8 $26.24
People's Michael Minas 881 1.9 +1.0 $1,582.23
Green Elvira Caputolan 761 1.6 -2.7 $0.00
Centrist Adil Khan 65 0.1 N/A $5,233.16
Total valid votes/Expense limit 47,014 99.2 $107,129.06
Total rejected ballots 363 0.8
Turnout 47,377 66.3
Eligible voters 71,465
Liberal hold Swing -3.7
Source: Elections Canada[24]
2019 Canadian federal election: Don Valley West
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Rob Oliphant 29,148 55.8 +2.02 $97,454.94
Conservative Yvonne Robertson 16,304 31.2 -6.40 $98,556.64
New Democratic Laurel MacDowell 3,804 7.3 +1.28 $0.00
Green Amanda Kistindey 2,257 4.3 +2.64 $0.98
People's Ian Prittie 444 0.9 - $3,650.11
Libertarian John Kittredge 277 0.5 -0.14 $0.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 52,234 100.0
Total rejected ballots 422
Turnout 52,656 71.5
Eligible voters 73,652
Liberal hold Swing +4.21
Source: Elections Canada[25][26]
2015 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Rob Oliphant 27,472 53.78 +12.29
Conservative John Carmichael 19,206 37.6 -5.33
New Democratic Syeda Riaz 3,076 6.02 -4.73
Green Natalie Hunt 848 1.66 -1.91
Libertarian John Kittredge 325 0.64
Communist Elizabeth Hill 84 0.16 -0.19
Independent Sharon Cromwell 75 0.15
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,086 100.0 -4.48 $202,821.40
Total rejected ballots 217 0.4 +0.07
Turnout 51,303 72.75 +5.91
Eligible voters 70,524 -12.15
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +8.81
Source: Elections Canada[27][28]
2011 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative John Carmichael 22,962 42.93 +4.11
Liberal Rob Oliphant 22,351 41.79 -2.57
New Democratic Nicole Yovanoff 6,280 11.74 +1.55
Green Georgina Wilcock 1,703 3.18 -3.12
Communist Dimitris Kabitsis 186 0.35 +0.02
Total valid votes 53,482 100.00
Total rejected ballots 176 0.33
Turnout 53,658 66.84
Eligible voters 80,276
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +3.34
2008 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Rob Oliphant 22,212 44.36 -9.2 $60,129
Conservative John Carmichael 19,441 38.83 +5.6 $82,633
New Democratic David Sparrow 5,102 10.19 +1.1 $67,984
Green Georgina Wilcock 3,155 6.30 +2.8 $10,725
Communist Catherine Holliday 162 0.32
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,072 100.00 $85,470
Total rejected ballots
Turnout 62.8
Liberal hold Swing -7.4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Search For Contributions". Elections Canada. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  2. ^ "Liberals take aim at Toronto Centre". The Globe and Mail. December 9, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "Liberals ready to rumble". The Globe and Mail. January 20, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  4. ^ "Oliphant seeks Liberal nod in Don Valley West". Xtra!. February 13, 2008. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  5. ^ "Former MP seeks Liberal nomination in riding being vacated by Godfrey". Toronto. January 7, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  6. ^ "Orchard knew Liberals wanted an aboriginal woman in Sask. byelection: Goodale". Canadian Press. January 9, 2008. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008.
  7. ^ Abbas, Rana (January 14, 2008). "Don Valley West Liberal nomination getting crowded, Bulte and Mousley interested". The Hill Times.
  8. ^ "Bitter fight for Liberal nomination in Don Valley West". CBC News. February 15, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Queen, Lisa (March 3, 2008). "Oliphant wins tough federal Liberal race". Inside Toronto. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "Don Valley West federal by-election set for Sept. 22". Toronto Star. August 17, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  11. ^ "Who's running in your riding?". Xtra!. September 16, 2008. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  12. ^ "Liberal's Oliphant holds the fort in Don Valley West". The Toronto Observer. October 14, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "Rob Oliphant". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  14. ^ "Liberals crushed in GTA". Toronto Sun. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  15. ^ "Rob Oliphant elected in the Don Valley West riding for the Liberal party". Global News. October 20, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "Bill C-233 | openparliament.ca". openparliament.ca. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  17. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2019-06-17). "A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire". aem. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  18. ^ "Oliphant calls it a victory for Parliament, Grit backbenchers defy government to pass Genetic Discrimination Bill". The Hill Times. 2017-03-08. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  19. ^ "Prime Minister announces changes to parliamentary secretaries". Prime Minister of Canada. 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  20. ^ "Rob Oliphant". Prime Minister of Canada. 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  21. ^ "Ottawa has no place in the deathbeds of the nation: Liberal MP Rob Oliphant - National | Globalnews.ca". globalnews.ca. 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  22. ^ "Prime Minister welcomes new parliamentary secretaries". Prime Minister of Canada. December 3, 2021. Retrieved December 4, 2021.
  23. ^ "Fergus, Oliphant shut out of cabinet, but sworn in as privy councillors, giving them access to cabinet docs". The Hill Times. 2021-12-20. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  24. ^ "List of confirmed candidates – September 20, 2021 Federal Election". Elections Canada. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  25. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  26. ^ "Election Night Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  27. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Don Valley West, 30 September 2015
  28. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External links[edit]