File:Rob Oliphant 2.jpg

Robert (Rob) Oliphant (born in 1956 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) is a United Church minister and a Canadian politician. He is the Liberal Party of Canada's candidate in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West in the upcoming federal election.

Personal Life Edit

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Oliphant studied Commerce and Finance 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, was involved in music and student politics. Upon graduating from U of T, he returned to Sault Ste. Marie and worked at Algoma Steel as an accountant in computer systems development. Oliphant lives in Cabbagetown, Toronto with his husband, Marco Fiola, a Professor of Applied Linguistics at Ryerson University. Oliphant married Fiola in 2005, soon after same sex marriage was legalized in Canada. In lieu of wedding gifts, guests were asked to make donations to the Capital Campaign of the 519 Church St. Community Centre, a community centre in the Toronto gay district, and Eglinton St. George’s United Church, the parish where he is the Ministerial team leader. Oliphant also asked local same-sex couples wedded by him to make donation to the 519 rather than paying fees. On May 17, 2008, Oliphant obtained his Doctorate of Ministry (D.Min.) from the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Pastoral Career Edit

Oliphant was sponsored as a candidate for ministry by his home church, Central United Church in Sault Ste. Marie.

Oliphant remained in Sault Ste. Marie for two years before entering the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia. After completing his studies at UBC, Oliphant was ordained as a United Church Minister in 1984. Oliphant has been stationed in diverse communities such as Newfoundland, Quyon, in rural Quebec, downtown Montreal, Toronto, and Whitehorse, Yukon.

Since 1999 Oliphant has been 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.

Political Career Edit

File:Rob Oliphant transparent.png

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 Responsible for Women's Issues, and Christine Hart, 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 Elliott Trudeau. He has worked in campaigns in Sault Ste. Marie, for candidates including Terry Murphy, Alex Sinclair, and the Hon. Ron Irwin, in Toronto, for Margaret Campbell, the Hon. Roy MacLaren, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, the Hon. 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 filed his papers to seeking the federal Liberal nomination of Don Valley West where John Godfrey is retiring. Others interested in the nomination include former Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte,[3] and Jonathan Mousley.[4]

In February 2008, Oliphant and Bulte's supporters were accused by then fellow candidate, Deborah Coyne, of paying the requisite fees of members he and his campaign had signed up - an act which is illegal under the Canada Elections Act if the candidate fails to disclose it. Coyne said that while she wasn't accusing Oliphant or Bulte of personally signing up new members improperly, every candidate must be held responsible for the actions of their representatives. [5][6][6][7] However, Oliphant denied direct knowledge of any such payments being made by his supporters.

On February 25, 2008, Deborah Coyne withdrew from the nomination race and endorsed Oliphant.[8] He also received the endorsement of another former candidate, Abdul Ingar[9] and by Dennis O'Leary, President of the Don Valley West Federal Liberal Association.[10]

On March 2, 2008, he won the nomination in the fourth round of voting to become the Liberal party candidate in the upcoming federal by-election.[11] The by-election must be called within six months of John Godfrey's resignation, which was announced on August 1, 2008.

External linksEdit



  1. Liberals take aim at Toronto Centre, Globe and Mail, December 9, 2006
  2. Liberals ready to rumble, Globe and Mail, January 20, 2007
  3. "Orchard knew Liberals wanted an aboriginal woman in Sask. byelection: Goodale", Canadian Press, January 9, 2008
  4. Rana, Abbas, "Don Valley West Liberal nomination getting crowded, Bulte and Mousley interested", Hill Times, January 14, 2008
  5. "Bitter fight for Liberal nomination in Don Valley West", Canadian Press, February 15, 2008
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Membership controversy unleashes bitter rivalry: Gloves off in Don Valley West Liberal race", Inside Toronto, February 19, 2008
  7. "Bitter fight for Liberal nomination in Don Valley West", Canadian Press, February 15, 2008
  8. "DVW Liberal Nomination Candidate Deborah Coyne Withdraws From Race and Supports Rob Oliphant",, accessed March 1, 2008
  9. "Abdul Ingar endorses Rob Oliphant for Liberal Nomination in Don Valley West",, accessed March 1, 2008
  10. "A Message from Dennis O'Leary, President of the Don Valley West Federal Liberal Association",, accessed March 1, 2008
  11. Queen, Lisa, "Oliphant wins tough federal Liberal race", The (East York-Rivedale) Mirror, March 3, 2008, accessed March 4, 2008

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