Robert Nicholson
Nicholson in 2014
Shadow Minister of Justice
Shadow Attorney General of Canada
In office
November 20, 2015 – September 11, 2019
LeaderRona Ambrose
Andrew Scheer
Preceded byFrançoise Boivin
Succeeded byRob Moore
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
February 9, 2015 – November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byJohn Baird
Succeeded byStéphane Dion
Minister of National Defence
In office
July 15, 2013 – February 9, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byPeter MacKay
Succeeded byJason Kenney
Minister of Justice
Attorney General of Canada
In office
January 4, 2007 – July 15, 2013
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byVic Toews
Succeeded byPeter MacKay
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 4, 2007
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byTony Valeri
Succeeded byPeter Van Loan
Minister responsible for Democratic Reform
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 4, 2007
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byBelinda Stronach (Democratic Renewal)
Succeeded byPeter Van Loan
Member of Parliament
for Niagara Falls
In office
July 28, 2004 – September 11, 2019
Preceded byGary Pillitteri
Succeeded byTony Baldinelli
In office
September 4, 1984 – October 25, 1993
Preceded byAl MacBain
Succeeded byGary Pillitteri
Personal details
Robert Douglas Nicholson

(1952-04-29) April 29, 1952 (age 71)
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative (Before 2003)
Conservative (2003–present)
SpouseArlene Nicholson
Alma materQueen's University
University of Windsor

Robert Douglas Nicholson PC KC (born April 29, 1952) is a Canadian politician who represented the riding of Niagara Falls in the House of Commons of Canada from 2004 to 2019 as a member of the Conservative Party. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he served as Minister of National Defence, Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. When the Harper Government ended, he was appointed Justice Critic in the Official Opposition shadow cabinet.

Early life

Nicholson was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario.[1] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen's University and a law degree from the University of Windsor. Nicholson practised law before entering politics, and is a member of the Law Society of Ontario.[1]

Political career

First terms in the House of Commons (1984–1993)

Nicholson was first elected to federal parliament in the federal election of 1984 as a Progressive Conservative, defeating New Democrat Richard Harrington and incumbent Liberal Al MacBain. He was re-elected by a narrower margin in the 1988 election, defeating Liberal Gary Pillitteri by fewer than 2,000 votes.

During the 33rd Canadian Parliament, he served on the standing committees responsible for justice (vice-chairman), foreign affairs, national defence and transport. Nicholson also served on the special committee on child care.[2]

During the 34th Canadian Parliament, he continued to serve on the justice committee and was also named a parliamentary secretary, supporting the Government House Leader (1989-1990) and the Attorney General of Canada (1989-1993) in Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney's government.

Following Kim Campbell's appointment as prime minister, Nicholson joined the cabinet as Minister for Science and Minister responsible for Small Business.[3]

As with all of his caucus colleagues, save for Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne, he was defeated in the 1993 election, finishing third behind Pillitteri and Mel Grunstein of the Reform Party.

Municipal politics

Nicholson was elected as a trustee for the Niagara Catholic District School Board in 1994. He was elected to the Niagara Regional Council later in 1997, and was re-elected in 2000, and 2003.[2] He ran for Chairman of the Regional Municipality of Niagara in late 2003, but lost to St. Catharines Regional Councillor Peter Partington.

He attempted to regain his old Commons seat in the 1997 election, but again finished third. He did not seek election to the Commons in the 2000 election.

Return to Opposition in 38th Parliament

The Progressive Conservatives merged with the Canadian Alliance as the Conservative Party of Canada in early 2004, and Nicholson joined the new party. He was narrowly returned to parliament in the 2004 election, defeating Liberal Victor Pietrangelo by more than 1,000 votes.

Nicholson served as Shadow Transportation Critic from July 2004 to January 2005. He was appointed Chief Opposition Whip on January 28, 2005.[2]

During the 38th Canadian Parliament, he was one of only two members of the 99-member Conservative caucus in the Commons who had previously served in the federal cabinet.

Harper government (2005-2015)

Rob Nicholson at G7 Foreign Ministers & EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Meeting in Germany
Robert Nicholson, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with aboriginal northerners at a replica Inuit village in Aglukkaq's hometown of Inaquit, Canada

Nicholson was re-elected in the 2006 election and appointed to the Harper cabinet as Government House Leader.[1]

Minister of Justice (2007-2013)

Nicholson was appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in early 2007. He replaced Vic Toews as Justice Minister during a Cabinet shuffle on January 4, 2007. Peter Van Loan replaced Nicholson as Government House Leader.

On March 13, 2010, Nicholson released the terms of reference for the appointment of Frank Iacobucci as an Independent Adviser. Iacobucci will conduct an independent review of documents related to the transfer of detainees by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.[4][5]

This statement comes after Richard Colvin spoke before a parliamentary committee stating that he warned for a full year that detainees Canadian troops handed over to Afghan forces faced torture before the government began to monitor them. “London, The Hague and Canberra [Australia] are deeply concerned about the absence of solid legal protections for detainees, which – in the age of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib – imperils domestic support for the Afghanistan mission,” said the memo of December 4, 2006, written by diplomat Richard Colvin.[6][7] Amir Attaran also brought forward testimony in stark contrast to then Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan David Sproule's. Afgan prisoners testified that after capture by Canadians, they were subsequently handed to the custody of the Afghan National Army (ANA), claiming they were later abused by the ANA.

Minister of Defence (2013-2015)

In the July 15, 2013 cabinet shuffle, Nicholson switched portfolios with Peter Mackay and became the Minister of Defence.[8]

Minister of Foreign Affairs (2015)

Because of John Baird's resignation, Harper was forced to reshuffle his Ministry on 9 February 2015. An unexpected beneficiary of the Baird defalcation was Nicholson, who was promoted to become Minister of Foreign Affairs. Nicholson's time as head of the Canadian Foreign Service was cut short when he was ejected from office on 4 November 2015 as Harper lost the 2015 election.

Back in opposition (2015-2019)

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2019)

While the Conservatives were relegated to the Official Opposition after the 2015 election, Nicholson was re-elected and announced his intention to run for the interim leadership of the party. He was defeated by Rona Ambrose, and was subsequently named as the Conservative Justice Critic.[9]

Nicholson did not run for re-election in the 2019 federal election.[10]

Election results

2015 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rob Nicholson 27,235 42.1 -11.16
Liberal Ron Planche 22,318 34.5 +15.59
New Democratic Carolynn Ioannoni 13,525 20.9 -2.59
Green Steven Soos 1,633 2.5 -1.36
Total valid votes/Expense limit 64,711 100.0     $249,861.38
Total rejected ballots 353 0.34 -0.15
Turnout 65,064 63.93; +7.03
Eligible voters 102,606
Conservative hold Swing -13.38
Source: Elections Canada[11][12]
2011 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rob Nicholson 28,748 53.26 +6.56
New Democratic Heather Kelley 12,681 23.49 +5.63
Liberal Bev Hodgson 10,206 18.91 -8.00
Green Shawn Willick 2,086 3.86 -4.61
Christian Heritage Harold Jonker 259 0.5% +0.48
Total valid votes 53,980 100.00
Total rejected ballots 264 0.49 -0.01
Turnout 54,244 56.90 +2.30
Eligible voters 95,326
2008 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rob Nicholson 24,016 46.70% +6.3% $77,050
Liberal Joyce Morocco 13,867 26.96% -7.5% $89,565
New Democratic Eric Gillespie 9,186 17.86% -3.1% $18,513
Green Shawn Willick 4,356 8.47% +4.4% $7,974
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,425 99.5% $94,533
Total rejected ballots 264 0.5%
Turnout 51,689 54.60%
2006 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Rob Nicholson 23,489 40.4% +1.7%
Liberal Gary Burroughs 20,099 34.5% -2.0%
New Democratic Wayne Gates 12,214 21.0% +0.2%
Green Kay Green 2,402 4.1% +0.1%
Total valid votes 58,204 100.0%
2004 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Rob Nicholson 19,882 38.7% -7.7%
Liberal Victor Pietrangelo 18,745 36.5% -9.4%
New Democratic Wayne Gates 10,680 20.8% +14.7%
Green Ted Mousseau 2,071 4.0% +2.7%
Total valid votes 51,378 100.0%

Note: Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 election.

1997 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Gary Pillitteri 15,868 38.4% -8.7%
Reform Mel Grunstein 10,986 26.6% +1.6%
Progressive Conservative Rob Nicholson 9,935 24.0% +1.7%
New Democratic John Cowan 4,052 9.8% +6.4%
Green Alexander Rados 374 0.9% +0.3%
Natural Law Bill Amos 154 0.4% 0.0%
Total valid votes 41,369 100.0%
1993 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Gary Pillitteri 20,542 47.1% +12.1%
Reform Mel Grunstein 10,890 25.0%
Progressive Conservative Rob Nicholson 9,719 22.3% -17.2%
New Democratic Steve Leonard 1,470 3.4% -18.0%
National John Cowan 513 1.2%
Green John Bruce McBurney 258 0.6%
Natural Law Bill Amos 166 0.4%
Abolitionist Ted Wiwchar 82 0.2%
Total valid votes 43,640 100.0%
1988 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Rob Nicholson 17,077 39.5% -15.6%
Liberal Gary Pillitteri 15,137 35.0% +15.2%
New Democratic Dick Harrington 9,232 21.3% -2.4%
Christian Heritage Bill Andres 1,713 4.0%
Commonwealth of Canada Jean-Claude Souvray 97 0.2%
Total valid votes 43,256 100.0%
1984 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Rob Nicholson 22,852 55.1% +18.2%
New Democratic Richard Harrington 9,863 23.8% +2.6%
Liberal Al MacBain 8,219 19.8% -21.3%
Green Robert G. Scott 352 0.8%
Social Credit Earl G. Erb 177 0.4% -0.1%
Total valid votes 41,463 100.0%

See also


  1. ^ a b c "The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson". 2009-09-04. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  2. ^ a b c Parliament of Canada. "Member of Parliament Profile: Hon. Rob Nicholson". Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  3. ^ "The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson". Prime Minister of Canada. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  4. ^ Taber, Jane (March 13, 2010). "Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announces full terms of review — The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  5. ^ "Minister of Justice Releases Terms of Reference for Independent Adviser to Review National Security Informatione". Justice. 2012-08-03. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  6. ^ Wherry, Aaron (2010-03-12). "What might have been (II) - Beyond The Commons, Capital Read". Macleans. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  7. ^ Clark, Campbell (December 18, 2009). "'The buck stopped nowhere' at Foreign Affairs on Colvin's warnings — The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  8. ^ "Harper cabinet shakeup adds new faces". CBC. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Conservatives to elect interim leader on Nov. 5". CBC News. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  10. ^ "Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson will not seek another term". Niagara Falls Review. April 9, 2019. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  11. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Niagara Falls, 30 September 2015
  12. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
Parliament of Canada Preceded byAl MacBain Member of Parliamentfor Niagara Falls 1984–1993 Succeeded byGary Pillitteri Preceded byGary Pillitteri Member of Parliamentfor Niagara Falls 2004–present Incumbent 25th Ministry – Cabinet of Kim Campbell Cabinet post (1) Predecessor Office Successor   Minister of Science1993   Special Cabinet Responsibilities Predecessor Title Successor   Minister responsible for Small Business1993   28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper Special Parliamentary Responsibilities Predecessor Title Successor Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons2006–2007 Peter Van Loan Special Cabinet Responsibilities Predecessor Title Successor Belinda Stronachas Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal Minister responsible for Democratic Reform2006–2007 Peter Van Loan Cabinet posts (3) Predecessor Office Successor Vic Toews Minister of Justice2007–2013 Peter MacKay Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence2013–2015 Jason Kenney Ed FastActing Minister of Foreign Affairs2015 Stéphane Dion