Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Delightful Dismemberment of the Liberal Hopescape Part 2

Having discussed Mr. Ignatieff below I move on to Mr. Rae.

Bob Rae: The former Premier of Ontario wants to lead again. Like Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Rae is relying on a coalition he built last time around to be his base of support this time around. It is an impressive coalition. Mr. Rae is a man with a long and distinguished career to support his claim to this office. He has spent his life in the service of this country, and for that he should be honoured and respected. However, he is not applying for just any job, this is a job where the selection committee has 32 million members. This is Mr. Rae's problem. I do not for a second doubt Mr. Rae's ability to be Prime Minister. There has perhaps never been a candidate more qualified, in terms of resume than Mr. Rae. He has a wealth of experience both in Ottawa and at Queen's Park. He has penned important reports. He is a statesman. Win or lose, he will ever be thus. However, this is not enough.

I do not believe that Mr. Rae can be elected. Mr. Rae and his supporters will make the argument that he was a victim of circumstance when he was Premier of Ontario. The world economy did get pulled out from under his feet. However, he did not, in the judgment of the people of Ontario manage the economy well. As we face another economic crisis, one has to question the timeliness of Mr. Rae's decision. There is simply no evidence that the people of Ontario, outside of downtown Toronto share Mr. Rae's interpretation of history. I was too young to remember Mr. Rae's administration, that doesn't mean that I don't know my history. The Tories will not let the people of this country forget about Bob Rae's record. We don't have the money to turn this negative into a positive. It would be akin to the Tories electing Mike Harris and trying to salvage his term in office. It is not doable. We will spend the election attempting to defend a record that Liberals viciously criticized thirteen years ago.

Mr. Rae's supporters say that he is an incomparable campaigner. I don't see the evidence. Mr. Rae won one of the four elections that he was NDP leader. In his last campaign as leader of a political party his party lost 57 of its 74 seats and Mike Harris became premier of Ontario. The party which he led has still not recovered from his leadership. While Mr. Hampton deserves no credit for his term as leader, he has not much to work with. We are a party which has come dangerously close in the last five years to oblivion. The last time Mr. Rae led a party, he led it straight into oblivion. That is his legacy as a party leader. The people of Ontario have said in consecutive elections since his departure from the provincial scene that they do not want to return to the days of Bob Rae. If we are to form the next government we must do so by winning in Ontario. More specifically we have to win in the 905 and in the small cities of southern Ontario which have deserted the Liberal Party. Mr. Rae has no currency in these parts of the country. He is a danger to every seat we hold outside of the city of Toronto in the province. I can accept that Mr. Rae might be able to make inroads in British Columbia. However, even with Tory gerrymandering, the 35 seats available in BC will never match the clout of 106 seat Ontario. We cannot form a government without Ontario, and Bob Rae will never win again in Ontario.

1 comment:

Yappa said...


Thoughtful post and well argued. Thanks. As a Rae supporter (and a member of the NDP up until 1996), my take is that it was the NDP base that killed the party during Rae's time as premier. The civil service unions wanted to cash in on an NDP administration and when the size of the deficit forced Rae to institute some cutbacks to government spending, they went ballistic. Toronto was plastered with "Wanted" posters showing Rae and his cabinet ministers. He was treated like a traitor. I left the NDP because I realized that the party's base was irresponsible. Rae did a wonderful job as premier and left the province in good shape. It's not true that Ontario can't stand Rae: in the last leadership race he topped all polls of leadership candidates in Ontario.

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