When Rae won the NDP leadership, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party had governed Ontario since 1943 and was widely regarded as unbeatable. Rae was strongly critical of the Bill Davis government's approach to social issues, and used his acceptance speech to describe the PC Party's Ontario as "Toryland", "essentially a country club in which women and people of colour were not welcome". His comments were criticized by some in the media, though Rae himself would later write that his words seemed "particularly apt" in retrospect and "certainly aroused an angry response which often means a target has been hit".
The Progressive Conservatives were defeated in a no-confidence motion on June 18, 1985, and Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird asked Peterson to form a new government. Rae himself moved the motion of non-confidence, as he had done in the defeat of Joe Clark's government six years earlier. With support from Rae, Peterson's minority government implemented socially progressive legislation on matters such as pay equity, brought an end to extra-billing by doctors, and established campaign spending limits. Rae often criticized Peterson's approach to specific issues, but never moved to bring down the government.
Contrary to expectations, the Liberal Party's support base declined significantly in mid-campaign. The snap election was unpopular, and the Liberals suffered lingering effects from an earlier scandal involving Liberal fundraiser Patti Starr undermined public confidence in the government. Peterson's prominent role in drafting and supporting the troubled Meech Lake Accord for constitutional reform proved a particular liability. There were also signs of an economic downturn by this time and some believed that Peterson had called the snap election to avoid its full impact. The Progressive Conservatives were led by the inexperienced Mike Harris, who ran a narrow campaign focused on tax issues and was unable to capitalize on the Liberal slide. As such, Rae's NDP was the primary beneficiary. Rae himself was more confident than in the 1985 and 1987 campaigns, and took a more aggressive stance against the Peterson government. A poll taken late in the campaign showed the NDP holding a slight lead over the Liberals.
Rae has also become involved with international issues; in 2002 and 2003, as chair of the Forum of Federations he helped oversee constitutional discussions between the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels. On April 26, 2005, he was appointed to advise Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan on whether or not there should be a government inquiry into the 1985 Air India disaster. On November 23, 2005, Rae recommended further inquiry into the investigation and prosecution.
On November 23, 2005, Rae presented his recommendations that there should be a formal but focused inquiry into the Air India disaster. Two days later, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan announced Rae's appointment to conduct a limited inquiry into Air India under a government order-in-council. Rae produced a comprehensive report outlining the key issues that could be addressed, leaving Air India Victims' families spokeswoman Lata Pada "encouraged that demands for answers will be addressed".
Several days following his defeat at the leadership convention it was reported that Rae's wife, Arlene Perly Rae was approached by a delegate who did not know who she was, and who told her that she should not vote for Rae because his wife is Jewish. A flyer was also sent electronically to convention delegates, stating that Rae's wife was a vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and that he was a supporter of Israeli apartheid. The Canadian Press reported that the flyer was produced by Ron Saba, the editor of a small Montreal journal. Newly elected Liberal leader Stéphane Dion issued a press release condemning the "hateful comments" made against Rae and his wife, saying that they are "reprehensible and will not be tolerated within the Liberal Party of Canada", adding that "there is no room for abhorrent comments such as these within our Party".
In the by-election held on March 17, 2008, Rae won handily. Toronto Centre had historically been one of the few ridings in the former Metro Toronto where the old Progressive Conservatives had a realistic chance of winning. However, since 1993, the Liberals have dominated the riding (as has been the case with most Toronto ridings), carrying it by 10,000 votes or more. Rae kept this tradition going; he finished almost 11,000 votes ahead of his closest opponent and with more than 4,400 votes than his five opponents combined (14,187 to 9,764). Rae's candidacy was endorsed by the former Conservative candidate Mark Warner, who was dropped due to disagreements with the party on social and urban issues. Rae had denounced the Tories' decision to drop Warner, calling it a "national disgrace."
In late 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Rae Canada's special envoy to Myanmar in response to the Rohingya human rights crisis and the suspected ethnic cleansing of the minority population by the Myanmar government. Rae will be advising the prime minister on the issue and was expected to attempt to obtain permission from Myanmar to visit Rakhine province. He also has a mandate "to promote accountability for alleged crimes perpetrated against vulnerable populations, including the Rohingya Muslim community, other religious and ethnic minorities, and women and girls".
In the last issue, we wrote about how to stuff larger tires inside your ride. While that article focused on filling up existing wheel wells with larger rubber, it also brought this question to the table: