Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What Our Leader Needs to Do

Someone calling themselves CuriosityKilledTheCat added a comment to my May 7 endorsement of Bob Rae, and it was so bang on that I decided to reprint their comment here. Even if you don't think Bob Rae should be Liberal leader, this is a good start to a discussion on developing a response to Harper.

Here's what CuriosityKilledTheCat wrote - and many thanks to whoever you are!

At last, a Liberal candidate who calls a Harper spade a Harper spade ...

In his speech to the Economic Club of Toronto on June 6 (available at, Bob Rae sets his sights very clearly on Harper and his governance as Prime Minister, and draws very clear lines showing how different Canada would be if Rae was PM instead of Harper.

The only way to fight a politician like Harper is to call him on things he says and does. And given the vacuum created by the Liberal leadership campaign, it is refreshing to see at least one of the candidates taking on Harper and his cabinet.

A few quotes which show clearly what Bob Rae thinks of Harper's course:

- About Harper's budget's shortcomings with regard to promoting the economy: "And yet, for the first time in nearly a decade, this year's federal budget was bereft of anything for the "excellence agenda." This is a serious omission. Again, it speaks to the short sighted, politically motivated agenda of Harper."

- About Harper's attitude to child care, Kelowna and Kyoto: "Stephen Harper's decision to cancel the national plan on child-care, to tear up the Kelowna Accord, and to walk away from Kyoto are all examples of an outmoded vision, driven by small minded politics and rigid ideology."

- About Harper's policies with respect to children: "Small cash giveaways for kids are no substitute for leadership on early childhood learning and support for families. If governments had done the same a hundred years ago, we would have no libraries today."

- About Harper's attitude to the First Nations: "Stephen Harper's cancellation of the Kelowna Accord, the first major federal-provincial initiative in decades aimed at improving the social and economic condition of First Nations Canadians, is a national disgrace."

- About Harper and Kyoto: "The idea that the only way to meet the targets set by Kyoto is by shutting down the Canadian economy lock stock and barrel is empty fear-mongering."

- About Harper's budget and its aims: "The Harper/Flaherty inaugural budget also presented a grab bag of targeted tax incentives designed to curry favour with specific groups, to try and help push them over the top to a majority in the next election. This was an abuse."

Way to go, Bob. Tell it like it is.

This is the kind of leader the Liberals need.



Tom said...

Curiosity posted exactly the same comment on my response to your entry. I wonder how many other blogs it has been posted on?

Seems like Bob Rae has some volunteers/staff who are singing his praises around the blogs. Cheap advertising?

Anonymous said...

Tom: The fact that Curiosity posted the same comment at least twice is scarcely evidence that he/she works for Bob Rae. [If I found that you replied in the same way to Curiosity's other posting should I conclude you work for Harper?] Curiosity's motives are as irrelevant as Tom's in posting his put down. Ask instead whether what Curiosity has to say is sensible. If it is, then shout it loud and clear and often.
Sang Freud

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Bob is back. I've been posting Bob Rae's Greatest Hits from Hansard and you can easily see what a skilled parliamentarian he is.

Yappa said...

I'm glad to hear that. That's exactly what the leadership teams need to be doing - getting the message out, seeing how it plays, refining it, and rallying supporters!

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Sorry to disappoint you, Tom, but I am not part of Bob Rae's campaign; my views reflect my consideration of the candidates, as a concerned citizen. Anyway, another blog of mine in support of Rae's policies (and, yes, I have cross blogged this - ain't no crime, eh?):

Many bloggers have bemoaned the relative lack of policy discussions by Liberal leadership candidates. Well, Bob Rae has made a solid contribution to the policy debate with his June 6 speech to the Economic Club of Toronto (found at

He outlines his vision of Canada, and several very specific principles which would guide a Liberal government lead by him as Prime Minister. The contrast between Rae's liberal principles and the narrowness of Harper's principles is stark. The battle lines in the coming election – should Rae be elected Liberal leader – are clearly outlined in this speech.

It is worth talking about a few of Rae's major points.

Let's start with his vision – it is one every Liberal (and Canadian) could gladly subscribe to: "My vision is one that sees a thriving, sustainable economy, competing with the strongest economies of the world. Where there is a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurialism and risk-taking. Where we champion education, skills, and learning. Where opportunity and hope for a bright future are shared widely. And where the federal government plays a facilitative, leadership role in helping to establish such a climate."

The role of the federal government as a facilitative and leadership one in carrying out the vision is very different from the view Harper has of the federal government: Harper wants to diminish its role, and hive off taxation and other powers to provinces. This is a major fault line between the neocon New Tories and the Liberals. Harper will find support from the Bloc and many Quebeckers for part of this downsizing vision he has, but most Canadians – once they understand what the impact of Harper's view is – will not want the federal government to be weakened that way. Rae has clearly placed a marker on the political landscape with this vision; he is fighting for a bolder federal role, unlike Harper.

Some of the major principles Rae sets out which resonate with me are:

• "Prosperity matters. Wealth creation matters. So does sharing opportunity. Because it is right." I share his conviction that sharing opportunity is a moral imperative in the Canadian culture; unlike the we win/you lose mindset of the Conservatives.

• Canada has a competitive advantage in its publicly-funded, as opposed to employer-funded, health care system. Harper wants to reduce this advantage.

• Our governments are not taking "enough of a proactive approach to facilitating dynamism in the economy by using such levers as the tax and regulatory systems." He gives some good, practical examples of how this could be done.

• His stand on education is refreshingly clear and remarkably attractive: "The principle is clear. Every qualified student should have access to college and university. And no one should be loaded down with cost and debts they can't afford."

• He would increase the role of the federal government in spearheading research and innovation, through universities and other bodies.

• He would focus on helping the poor help themselves (rather than simply accepting that poverty will always be with us, as the Tories seem to): "We need to ensure that the economy we are building with these important investments works for all Canadians. And that we don't shortchange ourselves, by keeping a segment of our population trapped in poverty, unable to contribute, unable to realize their abilities and their hopes". He sets out some practical ways to do this.

• His focus on the main provider of employment in Canada – the small and medium sized enterprises, is spot on.

Much food for thought in this speech. Such a Prime Minister could electrify this country.

Be interesting to compare what the other candidates are proposing.

Tom said...

- hey, no putdown intended, no crime suggested. Just an idle commenter being curious about the coincidence of a long cross-posted comment, that's all.

Apparently curiosity might, if not kill the cat, at least me flamed a little :-)