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Robert "Rob" Oliphant 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, and was returned to office in the 2015 general election.

Robert Oliphant

Oliphant6601 colour-slanted.jpg
Member of the Canadian 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
Chairman of the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Assumed office
February 4, 2016
Preceded byDaryl Kramp
Personal details
Born (1956-06-07) June 7, 1956 (age 62)
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Marco A. Fiola
ResidenceToronto, Ontario
ProfessionUnited Church minister and health charity executive


Personal lifeEdit

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, a professor at Ryerson University.

Church careerEdit

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 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.

Political involvement prior to electionEdit

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.[1] It was subsequently reported in January 2007 that Oliphant was hosting exploratory meetings in the riding.[2] 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.[3] Others interested in the nomination included former Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte,[4][5] prominent constitutional expert Deborah Coyne, local imam Abdul Ingar, and Jonathan Mousley.[6] 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.[7]

On February 25, 2008, Coyne withdrew from the nomination race and endorsed Oliphant.[8] 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.[8] The by-election had been called for September 22, 2008,[9] but this was cancelled in the wake of the general election called for October 14, 2008.[10]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Oliphant was elected to the House of Commons on October 14, 2008.[11]

He was named to the Shadow Cabinet by Stéphane Dion as Critic for Veterans Affairs in November 2008. 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.[12] Four years later, he reclaimed the riding, defeating Carmichael in a rematch.[13]

Member of ParliamentEdit

In March of 2017, Rob 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. [14]

Asthma Society of CanadaEdit

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

Electoral recordEdit

Canadian federal election, 2015
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[15][16]
Canadian federal election, 2011
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
Canadian federal election, 2008
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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Liberals take aim at Toronto Centre". The Globe and Mail. December 9, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Liberals ready to rumble". The Globe and Mail. January 20, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "Oliphant seeks Liberal nod in Don Valley West". Xtra!. February 13, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  4. ^ "Former MP seeks Liberal nomination in riding being vacated by Godfrey". Toronto. January 7, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "Orchard knew Liberals wanted an aboriginal woman in Sask. byelection: Goodale". Canadian Press. January 9, 2008. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008.
  6. ^ Abbas, Rana (January 14, 2008). "Don Valley West Liberal nomination getting crowded, Bulte and Mousley interested". The Hill Times.
  7. ^ "Bitter fight for Liberal nomination in Don Valley West". CBC News. February 15, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Queen, Lisa (March 3, 2008). "Oliphant wins tough federal Liberal race". Inside Toronto. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  9. ^ "Don Valley West federal by-election set for Sept. 22". Toronto Star. August 17, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "Who's running in your riding?". Xtra!. September 16, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  11. ^ "Liberal's Oliphant holds the fort in Don Valley West". The Toronto Observer. October 14, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  12. ^ "Liberals crushed in GTA". Toronto Sun. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "Rob Oliphant elected in the Don Valley West riding for the Liberal party". Global News. October 20, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Times, The Hill (2017-03-08). "Oliphant calls it a victory for Parliament, Grit backbenchers defy government to pass Genetic Discrimination Bill". The Hill Times. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  15. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Don Valley West, 30 September 2015
  16. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External linksEdit