Bob Runciman

Bob Runciman

Robert William "Bob" Runciman (born in Brockville, Ontario) is a veteran Canadian politician and the current provincial Leader of the Opposition in the Ontario Legislature.

He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 1981 provincial election as a Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Leeds in eastern Ontario. He has been returned in each subsequent provincial election, and now represents the riding of Leeds—Grenville.

Before going to Queen's Park, Runciman owned a local weekly newspaper, and sat as a municipal councillor in Brockville from 1972 to 1981. He also worked in production management in the chemical industry.

Runciman served as Minister of Government Services from February 8 to May 17, 1985, and as Minister of Consumer Relations from May 17 to June 26, 1985, in the short-lived cabinet of Ontario Premier Frank Miller. With the defeat of Miller's government on a vote of confidence, Runciman joined his party on the opposition benches. He was nearly defeated by Liberal Jim Jordan in the 1987 election, winning by only 198 votes. On all other occasions, he has been re-elected without difficulty. Despite being on the right-wing of the party, Runciman endorsed Red Tory Larry Grossman for the party leadership in November 1985 ("Ottawa Citizen", 2 October 1985) and Dianne Cunningham for the leadership in 1990 ("Toronto Star", 3 May 1990).

When the Tories returned to power in the 1995 election, Runciman became Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services in the government of Mike Harris, holding the position from June 26, 1995 to June 17, 1999. He championed privately-owned prisons during this period, and was criticized on one occasion for revealing the name of a young offender in the legislature. On June 17, 1999, he was moved to the portfolio of Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and on February 8, 2001, was named Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

Runciman supported Tom Long's bid to lead the Canadian Alliance in 2000. When Long was dropped from the contest after the first ballot, he turned his support to Stockwell Day, the eventual winner. ("Regina Leader Post", 28 June 2000).

Runciman supported Ernie Eves's successful bid to succeed Harris as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2002. On April 15, 2002, Eves re-appointed Runciman to the position of Minister of Public Safety and Security (as the position of Solicitor General became known in the period following the September 11, 2001 attacks).

On August 6, 2003, Runciman made controversial comments in the wake of tensions between Toronto's black community and the city's police. "I think some people make a living off this," Runciman said. "People who don't accept any degree of responsibility to solve the challenges and misunderstandings." After confirming that he was referring to members of the black community, he went on to say that "some folks here appear to have, in my view, a vested interest in seeing this kind of tension continue to exist." [] [] His comments were later condemened by the Canadian Race Relations foundation and several other opposition MPP's. []

Runciman returned to the opposition benches with the defeat of the Eves government in the 2003 election. He supported John Tory in the leadership election to succeed Eves. Tory won the contest, and, not having a seat in the legislature, named Runciman to the position of interim Leader of the Opposition in September 2004.

Although Runciman holds strongly conservative views on matters such as criminal justice, he is not regarded as one of the more ideological members of his caucus. In recent years, he has played a significant role in his party's leadership transitions.

On May 17, 2005, Runciman was chastised for remarks he made about federal member of Parliament Belinda Stronach decision to cross the floor from the Conservative Party of Canada to the Liberal Party of Canada. Runciman said, "She sort of defined herself as something of a dipstick, an attractive one, but still a dipstick."

Runciman resumed the position of opposition leader following the 2007 provincial election in which John Tory lost his seat.

External links

* [ Official website]

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