Born in Vacouver on Sept. 19, 1948, Jim McCrae was educated at Vincent Massey High School in Brandon and the Bryan College of Court Reporting in Los Angeles, Calif.
He served as a court reporter for a number of years, and was a Hansard reporter for the Canadian House of Commons from 1975 to 1982.
In 1983, McCrae was elected as alderman for Victoria Ward in Brandon.
In 1986, as a Progressive Conservative, he defeated NDP candidate Arnold Grambo by 1,409 votes in Brandon West, joining the opposition.
In 1988, the government fell. McCrae was re-elected over the Liberal candidate John Worley by 1,421 votes, with NDP falling to third place.
In the PC minority government, McCrae was appointed as Attorney-General, as well as Ministry of Justice. In 1990, he was given the addional responsibilities of being Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, and Minister of Cooperative Development, with responsibility for Constitutional Affairs and the Liquor Control Act.
He was re-elected in 1990, defeating NDP candidate (and future mayor) Shari Decter Hirst. He was kept in the Justice portfolio and against given responsibility for Constitutional Affairs and the Liquor Control Act, as well as Corrections and most of the Corrections Act.
In 1993, a cabinet shuffle named McCrae the Health Minster.
He was again re-elected in 1995. Another cabinet shuffle in 1997 made him the Minister of the Environment and Gvoernment House Leader, with additional responsibility for MPIC.
In a final cabinet shuffle, in 1999, McCrae was named Minister of Education and Training.
In the 1999 election, McCrae was defeated by NDP candidate Scott Smith by 352 votes. He then became a realtor.
McCrae ran for mayor in 2002, in the race to succeed Reg Atkinson, but lost to Dave Burgess. He did not seek re-election to the provincial legislature in 2003.
In 2006, McCrae was re-elected Brandon City Council after a 20-year hiatus, defeating Gladden Smith and Leo Boivin in the race for Meadows Ward.
He was acclaimed in 2010. It was the first time in 27 years that he hadn't had to contest an election.