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 :
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.