Sunday, May 07, 2006

Why I Endorse Bob Rae as Federal Liberal Leader

1. Of all the leadership candidates, Bob Rae is the best choice to revitalize the Liberal party.
2. He has the best chance of winning the next federal election.
3. He has the vision, experience and intelligence to be a great Prime Minister.

Now I'll explain...

I spent this weekend as a delegate at the Annual General Meeting of the federal Liberal party of Ontario. On Friday there was a leadership debate. All ten leadership candidates were there; they started with a brief speech and then answered questions. All the candidates were good, but Bob Rae stood out. His passion and commitment are compelling. Like JFK or Martin Luther King, Rae has the power to draw us in and motivate us to create a better world.

I spent the weekend asking delegates what they thought about the debate and the candidates. There was wide agreement that Rae's performance was the best, but nearly everyone said, He's great but doesn't he carry too much baggage in Ontario? I have been thinking about that, and I think I have an answer.

In the first place, Rae does not have the enormous baggage of being a part of the Liberal party that created the sponsorship scandal. He doesn't have the baggage of letting C02 emissions rise by 30% after pledging to reduce them by 6%. He can articulate a vision for Canada without back-pedaling on why he didn't do anything about it while he had the chance. His record, in that respect, is clean.

Back in 1995, Ontario was pretty mad at Bob Rae. The anger was fuelled by the civil service unions, who were furious that he instituted unpaid days off. But the continent was in the worst recession since the Great Depression and Ontario's deficit was so high that it was driving down our bond rating, which in turn was increasing the cost of borrowing for the province. Rae, like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, is socially progressive and fiscally responsible. Recessions are pretty rough times to govern, and I don't think Rae made any decisions that he has to apologise for.

Despite the turbulence of his time as Premier of Ontario, Rae accomplished a great deal, including:

- 42% of his cabinet was female (that's by far the best ever in Canada)
- he created child care spaces and extended parental leave
- he enacted employment equity and pay equity
- he raised the minimum wage
- he legalized midwives and birthing centers
- he instituted same sex spousal benefits for civil servants
- he enacted pro-labor legislation (including anti-scab laws)

In the 10 years since he was Premier of Ontario, Rae has been very busy. He has taken a leadership role in education, national security, public policy, health, US-Canada trade, international affairs, industry, and the arts. Here's a list:

- Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
- Professor, University of Toronto
- Author, Rae Review on post-secondary education
- Member, Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee
- Founding member and Chair, Forum of Federations
- Author, report on the Air India bombing
- Chief Negotiator, Canadian Red Cross restructuring (after the tainted blood scandal)
- National Spokesperson, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- Director, Hydro One, Husky, and a bunch of other corporations
- Member, Canadian Internal Trade Disputes Tribunal
- Legal counsel to the Free Trade Lumber Council
- Member, Canada Transportation Act Review
- Member, International Council of the Asia Society
- Chair, Institute for Research on Public Policy
- Chair, Royal Conservatory of Music
- Chair, Toronto Symphony Orchestra
- Author, two books (From Protest to Power and The Three Questions - both great, by the way; I recommend them)

Rae has degrees from the University of Toronto and Oxford. Like Bill Clinton, he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is a lawyer. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario.

He is fluent in French. (According to La Presse, the only Liberal candidates whose French is good enough for a debate are Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, St├ęphane Dion and Maurizio Bevilacqua.)

He has federal experience. He was an MP from 1978-82. It was Rae's no-confidence motion that brought down Joe Clark's government in 1979.

In addition to all these qualifications, Rae has proven political instincts and the most powerful political team, including his brother, John Rae, who (among his many accomplishments) was Chretien's campaign manager for two majority governments.

It is true that Rae became a Liberal only recently. However, as an NDPer he was always a centrist and pragmatist. He left the NDP in the late 1990s, and has floated the idea of running as a Liberal MP since then. The Liberal Party is where he belongs, and we are very lucky to have him. As Prime Minister, Bob Rae can help us make Canada the country we have always wanted it to be: economically successful, environmentally responsible, socially progressive, and universally inclusive.

For more info about Bob Rae, see:
CTV interview

This site has a great list of candidate endorsements by bloggers:



John Murney said...

I couldn't agree with you more!

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Cannot vote for Rae. He doesn't convice me as a Liberal. There are lots of former politicians with a long resume. Not reason enough for me.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I think Bob Rae has certainly learned a lot from his mistakes. But I am still worried about his electability in Ontario. The 416 is going to go Liberal no matter what while Rural Ontario is probably going to go Tory unless they do something really stupid. My concern is the suburban ridings such as the 905 belt which went massively for Harris. We need to pick up the ones we lost and we certainly cannot afford to lose the ones we hold. I know Jason Cherniak ( said in earlier post that Rae would likely cost the Liberals the whole York region. Maybe if he becomes an MP first, he can re-build his reputation and then run at a later date.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyting you said except one. Rae does still have as much political baggage in Ontario as Mulroney has throughout Canada.

Yes, Bob Rae would probably make a great Prime Minister, but regardless, the people of Ontario will never let him.

Anonymous said...

Just because he has the gift of the 'GAB' does not make him a good leader.....I have been a lib all my life and my parents before me....I dislike Bob Rae and will chose another party should he win.

Anonymous said...

What a loud of Yappa Crap!

Anonymous said...

RAe took a bacck seat to both Brison and Dryden in Toronto. He was better then Iggy and Kennedy>

I rate the standings now as follows:


Anonymous said...


Good predictions. I think Iggy will falter. Rumours are that his Quebec campaign has sprung a few leaks (they cancelled their first fundraiser because of a lack of donors).

Pablo is about to be pushed aside by Denis Coderre.

It will be Rae versus Brison or Dryden on the last ballot.

Anonymous said...

I think Rae would be a great addition to the party, but not as leader.

I would ask why? why run for leader and not MP? There was opportunity last time. He wasn't even a member of the party during the last election, and he is going to lead us through the next?

I think he's great, and I am glad he has entered into the federal arena but I work hard in this party, i fought hard during the election. I expect the same from my leader. I know Bob will prove that when he takes an active role in the federal party...but leader is too big of a leap.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with both the original post and curiositykilledthecat. Bob Rae is easily the most statesmanlike and seasoned leadership candidate, and the one most able to take on Harper. If Liberals are serious about renewal - moving the party on from the recent past with fresh ideas able to attract fresh blood, they would be well-advised to elect Bob Rae as their leader.

Anonymous said...

I hope Bob Rae is sent back to the political backwaters along with the other Trudeau era museum pieces supporting him. The writer neglected to mention how bad the Ontario economy suffered under Bob RAE, so now we can all have a taste of complete economic mismanagement by the Liberals.

I am glad Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister because someone has the jam to reform the senate, clean up the government and hunt the Taliban down. I also forgot to mention he has finally beefed up our military rather than deal with the almost 40 years of Liberal neglect of our armed forces.