Monday, April 03, 2006

Why Not Bob Rae?

Bob Rae was Michael Ignatieff's roommate while at the University of Toronto...can you dig that? I knew that you would. It was the vote on Rae's motion of no confidence that brought down the Progressive Conservative government of Joe Clark in December 1979. In the very least, we owe him for that!

Norman Spectator's article in today's Globe and Mail may have sealed it for us. This is a real candidate with a real chance to win this thing and possibly re-invent this party. Stranger things have happened in Canadian politics.

See the entire article on Mr. Spectator's site at :
  • A portion of the article is reproduced below.

    Bob Rae just might be the government's worst nightmare,
    By Norman Spectator.
    The Globe and Mail
    3 April 2006

    " The good news for Prime Minister Stephen Harper — were Bob Rae to lead the Liberal Party into the next federal election — lies just above the belt. Though many retain the image of the slightly gawky MP of the late 1970s, Ontario's former NDP premier is not exactly in fighting trim these days. On this score, Mr. Harper, whose paunch has been the butt of much media mirth, would be able to breathe easier and, perhaps, loosen up a notch.

    The bad news for the Prime Minister would come in several areas, starting above the shoulders. Mr. Rae, who was a Rhodes Scholar, is Mr. Harper's intellectual match. And, unlike former academic and putative leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff, he's been politically road-tested at the highest levels.

    Notwithstanding a decade removed from active politics, Mr. Rae is still able to hold an audience with an extemporaneous speech, judging from his performance at the University of Victoria last week. And, in the question period that followed, he showed that he can still think on his feet.

    Mr. Rae's speech was ostensibly about the importance of universities and the need for public investment, but this was the sugar to make globalization and the need to compete with India and China go down with lefties in the audience. It's this reconciliation of the market and government — as well as the prospect of uniting the political left — that Bob Rae would pitch if he enters the Liberal leadership race.

    His positive messages will be juxtaposed with a critique of right-wing governments that, in his view, have nothing to offer but tax cuts, deregulation and smaller government. As Mr. Rae put it, why would Canada borrow a model from the United States that has not worked?

    Over drinks, following the speech, he explained that he's ready to join the Liberals, after years of resisting, because he's concerned about Stephen Harper, the people around him and the prospect of another Quebec referendum. Fiercely partisan, Mr. Rae would not even concede that reuniting the Conservatives and restoring a competitive party system was in the national interest, though he did allow that Paul Martin deserved to lose the last vote.

    With the defection of former Liberal cabinet minister David Emerson and, presumably, the election of a Liberal as Speaker of the House today, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper will have time to pursue their undeclared common interest in squeezing Liberal support. With his roots in the NDP, Mr. Rae would be well positioned to check the manoeuvre, and could even provoke Jack Layton's worst nightmare — a full split in his party — as NDP voters, panicked by the prospect of a Conservative majority, go Buzz Hargrove's way. And, though the odds against Mr. Rae or anyone else leading the Liberals to victory in the next election are long, he would also have a good shot at thwarting another key element of the Conservative game plan — increased representation from Quebec.

    It's been said that Mr. Harper, in the last election, set the standard of bilingualism that any anglophone leader must now meet. Mr. Rae's spoken French, which has always been excellent, is much better than Mr. Harper's; indeed, judging from the interview he gave to Radio-Canada following the Victoria speech, it has improved over the years. As a newcomer to the Liberal Party, he would not be tainted by the sponsorship scandal. And, in contrast to Mr. Ignatieff, a prolific writer on nationalism, Mr. Rae has no skeletons in his closet for the Bloc Québécois to drag out at the opportune time...In the best of all possible worlds... Stephen Harper and Bob Rae (will) focus on positive messages during an election campaign. Both have the intellectual wherewithal to elevate political discourse in Canada and, for that reason, I hope Bob Rae decides to run for the Liberal leadership."

    Article By: Norman Spectator.


    Liz said...

    I remember Bob Rae in Ontario and that is all I need to know. Not for me.
    Yes he is a friend of Ignatieff but freindship does not mean you are of the same thought. Ignatieff was a friend he met at University of Toronto, they remined friends. but went both their own way and are very diferent.
    I have some Conservative friends, but that does not mean I agree with their political ideas

    foottothefire said...

    He can't and won't win the Canadian electorate.

    tobinforpm said...

    While we're strongly considering failed Ontario Premiers, why not throw Mike Harris into consideration, or better yet, how about Bill Davis or the corpse of Leslie Frost?

    Every single person I talk to about Rae's potential bid, laughs hysterically and asks 'WTF is he thinking'? Does anyone in the Liberal Party know how badly he alienated Ontario, and worse how he screwed things up so badly we are still trying to recover from it 10 years after his defeat?

    If Bob Rae is elected Liberal Leader, I will have to revaluate my membership in the Liberal Party.

    tobias said...


    Remove yours and our personal opinion of Rae and his government in Ontario for a moment. Those are opinions. Others may have different opinions of the same subject. Consider that since his government in Ontario we have had Harris and McDinty alienate the same number of Ontarians, albeit perhaps different ones. (Next Face is infinitely more angry with McDinty than we ever were with Rae - but that is our opinion)

    Now consider the facts. Review Rae's political history. Then review Kennedy's. That is all we have done to come to this conclusion. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Say what you want but Rae - when compared to Kennedy - could be ready to lead the Liberals and could be ready to run this country. We are not saying we want him to (not yet anyway), nor are we saying that there are not some who would say, as you put it, ""

    We are saying only that he could become the fourth legitimate Next Face candidate. An Ignatieff, Dryden, Rae and Dion debate could become an exceptional moment in the history of the Liberal party, and as we have mentioned, the cream will eventually rise to the top...

    tobinforpm said...


    I think it is clear we agree to disagree on the whole Bob Rae thing.

    There is no question of Rae's intellect, and what he can bring to a debate, but I am not looking for a great 'debator' to be the leader of the Liberal Party, I am looking for a great leader. Bob Rae had his opportunity here in Ontario, and history proves he blew it.

    I agree with your other 3 picks as top contenders, but your consideration of Bob Rae over Gerard Kennedy is wacky at best.

    tobias said...


    Considering that our blog is "wacky at best", we take that as a compliment!


    tobinforpm said...


    Please explain to me where I called your blog 'wacky'?

    If I read my post correctly, and sometimes I don't, I could have sworn it said "I think your consideration of Rae is 'wacky'".

    That isn't very cool Tobias, I thought you guys were better than that.

    Zac said...

    I think Rae has some major hurdles to over come in Ontario. With that said though, I also think that we have reached the lowest level of support that we are going to have in this province already. The ridings that we retained in the last election are solid Liberal seats, not swingers.

    Rae may not be able to come off strong in Ontario, but I do think that he can maintain our base, and perhaps make a few gains at Layton's expense.

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