Born and raised in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, in the Beauce region of Quebec, Robert Cliche studied law at Laval University from 1941 to 1944. After graduation, during World War II, he joined the Royal Marines as a sailor and left as an officer in 1946. In 1946, he established a general law practice in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce.
In politics, Cliche publicly supported the Liberal Party until 1960. In the early 1960s, he joined the New Democratic Party. In September 1963, he became the associate president of the federal NDP, then under the leadership of Tommy Douglas. In March 1965, Cliche was elected leader of the New Democratic Party of Quebec. Cliche was the NDP candidate in the riding of Beauce in the 1965 federal election and he obtained 29.44% of the vote. He was the NDP candidate in the riding of Duvernay in the 1968 federal election and he obtained 43.85% of the vote. The party was not successful in electing candidates from Quebec to the House of Commons of Canada. In 1968, Cliche left the leadership of the NDPQ and the associate presidency of the NDP and returned to law practice.
On 27 July 1972, minister of Justice Jérôme Choquette announced the nomination of Cliche as judge and assistant chief justice to the Provincial Court. Cliche officially became judge on 5 September 1972. In 1974 and 1975, he chaired the Royal Commission investigating the exercise of trade-union freedom in Quebec's construction industry. The two other members of the Commission were Brian Mulroney and Guy Chevrette.
He was married to journalist and novelist Madeleine Ferron from 1945 until his death.
- Marthe Legault, Robert Cliche, The Canadian Encyclopedia
- (French) Pierre C. Poulin, Robert Cliche : juge, politicien et humaniste, Presses de l'université Laval, 2009, ISBN 978-2-7637-8642-1
- Parliament of Canada, History of federal ridings since 1867, Candidates, 27th Parliament
- Parliament of Canada, History of federal ridings since 1867, Candidates, 28th Parliament
- (French) Robert Cliche accède à la magistrature, in Le Soleil, 28 July 1972, p. 2
- (French) Nouveau juge en chef, in Le Soleil, 6 September 1972, p. 22
- French: Commission d'enquête sur l'exercice de la liberté syndicale dans l'industrie de la construction
- Guay, Jean-Paul, ed. Robert Cliche. Montréal, Quė.: Les Quinze, 1980. 188 p., ill. with  p. of b&w photos. N.B.: Comprises written tributes by 15 persons to honor Cliche's memory.