Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why Bob Rae Should Lead the Liberal Party (in his own words)

From today's Toronto Star

Why I should lead Liberal party
Nov. 30, 2006. 01:00 AM

I am offering a candidacy that is based on experience, sound judgment and a vision that is focused on our priorities, not divisive debate.

In this campaign I have been talking about a style of leadership that promotes the best traditions, values and aspirations of Canada, at home and on the world stage.

1 - I know and love this country. I have Canada in my bones and have been fortunate to have so many opportunities both in and out of public office to serve over the years.

For almost 30 years in public life, I have had a chance to work on many of the major public policy issues of our time. From Burnt Church to softwood lumber, terrorism to education, the Constitution to federal-provincial relations, I have been forced to think of practical, workable solutions to difficult problems.

Every project has introduced me to more Canadians, taught me about what is meaningful to us, and shown me who we are as a people.

2 - My experiences have taught me many lessons and prepared me to do and offer more. It is incumbent on a leader to demonstrate that he or she has the experience and the insight to deal with the most critical issues and the rigours of leadership.

I know what it means to be a leader, run a government and work constructively on the national stage with First Ministers to build a better Canada.

I am the wiser for my experience in public life and believe that we must apply the lessons derived from the early 1990s, which were a difficult time for Canada. I also believe I bring more than a little political experience to the arena, something that can help guide a party through the rapids of electoral politics.

I have been elected eight times to federal and provincial Parliaments and public opinion shows that Canadians know me and know what I stand for.

I bear, as Teddy Roosevelt once said, the scars of having fought in the arena. But the arena is where one learns how to fight for what one believes in — and how to win.

3 - Finally, there are the beliefs that motivate me to win, fundamental beliefs about what we owe each other as Canadians: a commitment to the public good; to making Canada more than the sum of its parts; to sharing opportunity and prosperity, especially with the most vulnerable; to helping Canadian students and workers to be competitive in a global economy; and to being a constructive presence on the world stage.

I have learned from hard experience the costs of the ideology that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives want to impose on Canada.

I am running for the leadership of the Liberal party because I have learned that Canada needs a party that is committed to change, that is open to all Canadians, and that understands that politics and governing are about making life better for one's fellow citizens.

It is about bringing people together with a common purpose. It is not about theories or divisive ideologies.

The Liberal party is optimistic, builds on hope, not fear, and believes in opportunity for everyone.

The Conservatives are attempting to take us down paths that do not reflect our strengths or speak to our most pressing challenges.

On foreign policy, Canada's voice has gone missing under the Conservatives. Most Canadians support Kyoto, child care, and rights for minorities. They want to see us investing in education, health care, and research and innovation. Canadians want and deserve an alternative that is hopeful, generous, dedicated to building prosperity and sharing opportunity.

I want to lead this party in shaping that alternative so we can get Canada back on track.

Bob Rae is a former NDP premier of Ontario. He was the first chairman of the Forum of Federations, a position he held for seven years.


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