Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Rae?

Simon's argument on why Stephan Dion and desire to see him as the next Liberal leader, and Prime Minister of Canada, rattled loose something that's been going on in my head ever since I read this article in Saturday's Globe and Mail about Bob Rae.

It isn't so much about Dion than it is about Rae. And that is my utter puzzlement with Rae's success so far in the Liberal leadership campaign.

Now, I understand that each candidate has his or her baggage. Most people will never admit it, but I'm sure part of Scott Brison's problem in this campaign is that he's gay. Dion's baggage is on how well liked he is in Quebec. Michael Ignatieff's is that he was out of Canada for the better part of 30 years and is a political rookie.

By the way, this baggage can be real or perceived. Maybe it's a good thing that Ignatieff was out of Canada so long and doesn't have his mind restricted by the way politicians tend to think, or the way governing is carried out in Canada. And I could give a shit if Brison is gay or not, as long as he could run the country effectively should he ever get the job.

But man, Rae has a two ton stone wrapped around his neck. How can you not destroy him in a federal election?

This is what baffles me when I look at polls saying he's looking pretty good to be the next leader of the Liberal party of Canada. I mean, he seems pretty smart, committed and a good debater. The fact that he actually has a chance to become the next leader says there must be something there that is making most Liberals abandon what I perceive to be common sense.

Because while you could make hay out of a guy crossing from the NDP to the Liberals, here's the thing you can crucify him on all day long - he nearly destroyed Ontario.

Yes, yes, there might have been extenuating circumstance. The economy was in a downturn, he was grossly unprepared for the job, and there was a grand conspiracy or some such thing against him. But the party he led is still widely reviled for nearly destroying the most powerful provincial economy in Canada. While he was leader, the province was a mess. People couldn't wait to vote him out. So much so that electing Mike Harris seemed like a really good idea at the time.

If you're Stephen Harper, you must love this shit. I'm not sure how many of the current Liberal contenders are really the guy to bump Harper off (I found myself agreeing with him again the other day on the decision to put the budget surplus into the debt. It's getting a little scary how often I catch myself agreeing with Harper on things), but Rae must be a dream come through. You can just hammer home on Ontario during the entire campaign. "Elect this man and he will do to Canada what he did to Ontario."

Tada. There's your sound bite. There's your scare mongering. Doesn't matter if it's completely true or not. Doesn't matter if he's a completely changed and wiser man. Five weeks or so of that and its variations and you have a Conservative majority government.

This is why I don't understand why people are supporting Rae. I'm hardly a genius and I know this is coming. And that it will work awfully well, especially in "vote rich" (© Canadian Press) Ontario. So why do this to your party and yourselves? Because barring a miracle, Harper's complete self-destruction or something I'm just plain missing, I don't see how Rae can become prime minister.

That might be unfair. Maybe he's a hell of a guy and would do a great job. But politics aint about fair. It's about picking the right man or woman. It's about picking the person with the best strengths and the weakness you can at least defend against. And I don't see how Rae is going to be able to defend his record in Ontario. I really don't.


Jason said...

Hi Craig. I have to totally disagree with on this and write a disgustingly long response on this.

First of, I think the problem with Brison isn't that he's gay, it's his record when he switched parties. When Brison lost the Conservative leadership he changed parties shortly after the merger between alliance and reform based on the claim that they would not tolerate his orientation. But he had been an advocate of merging the two parties when he was running for the leadership.

As for Rae, first things first, Iggy's problem is yes, he was out of the country for 30 years. It's not that he's a fresh face, it's he doesn't have a clue about Canadians and their concerns. But his biggest liablity is his support for the Iraq war. He loses Quebec entirely based on that and other parts of the country where that position is unpopular to say the least. Trying to paint him as a moderate Liberal is just insulting voters' intelligence.

As for Rae and Ontario, polls show Rae does well against Harper in Ontario. 1. He didn't get people killed(Walkerton and Harris) 2. There is no such thing as a popular Ontario premier. 3. Its the things that Rae did after leaving Ontario politics that gvie him the edge and depth.

After Ontario, he 1) worked on the resolving the tainted blood scandal, 2.Helped negotiate fishing disputes in the Burnt Church matter. 3. Became negotiator for peace between the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels. 4. Helped save the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.5 Helped on civil constituational matters for Nigeria, India.

These things impress me at least.

Craig, he has that soundbite for a week then what? Country is engaged in an increasing bloody war, if Harper decides to fight a battle based on events 15 years in Ontario, he'll lose. He needs to promote a vision for the future, and frankly lets face it, Harper is still not doing great in the polls despite the uncertainty with the Liberals. Liberals under Rae have a big shot at a minority government. Harper lost his chance at a majority three months ago.

As for leaving the NDP issue, man look at that party and tell me they seem like a viable alternative to govern.

His Nibs said...

About the budget surplus going to the debt - that was more a result of timing. If I recall corectly, after a certain point in the year, if the feds haven't spent the money it must go against the debt.

So it doesn't really count as their policy choice, if you are looking for that sort of thing. For that, look to the cuts to program funding.

regards, cat`