Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rae's record begs questions that have not been asked

I will not discus Bob Rae’s record as premier. The truth is it’s not that relevant. I certainly don’t believe he could recreate his Queen’s Park disaster in Ottawa. The tendencies of one man simply can’t overcome that fiscal restraint that has become so deeply entrenched in the Federal Liberal agenda. His record poses electability problems, sure. In Hamilton and other cities in Ontario where the NDP are a threat we have used his name for years as indication of how bad things could get. It would be unfortunate to have to forego this argument, but nevertheless.

It is his values record that has been inexplicably ignored thus far, and requires a closer look. He is (or was, prior to Dion’s theoretical surge) billed as Quebec’s candidate. He has invited us recently - vis-à-vis other leadership candidates – to examine the current package in light of historical stances. I suggest that we do to him the same.

Bob Rae claims popularity amongst some Quebecois because of his past involvement in constitutional reform. Rae was a fervent defender of the Meech Lake Accord, and later, an architect of Charlottetown. This position – peculiarly untouched over the course of the leadership race thus far – leaves him dialectically opposed to many Liberals.

He has written extensively on these misguided endeavours. But one needs not wade into decade-old speeches. His website CV screams his support:

“As Leader in the Opposition in Ontario, I argued strongly in favour of the Meech Lake Accord, and as Premier of Ontario I helped negotiate the Charlottetown Accord. These experiences have led me to believe that Canada's strength lies in its diversity and in the realization by all of its citizens that no matter where in the country they are, they are part of a nation and belong to a community where their distinctiveness, perspectives, and traditions are welcomed. The federal government should set the example by working with provinces, citizens and communities to ensure that voices from across Canada are heard and considered.”

When asked what drives separatism, Rae is unequivocal: "The country would be in better shape if the Meech Lake Accord had passed.”

He has written that Pierre Trudeau et al “[were] arguing in defiance of Canadian history.” Whilst many Liberals celebrate Trudeau’s achievements, Rae isolates Trudeau as the source of this federation’s ills: “…we have seen the danger of governing in the name of a theory.”

Brian Mulroney, on the other hand, “showed great courage and great energy in his defence of the country and I fully supported his attempts to further reform the Constitution…” [By way of context, that last line was delivered at a speech celebrating great Liberal Alan McEachen. He was explaining his willingness to admit when even his most bitter enemies were right. Why else (this was a few years ago) would he be speaking kindly about a Liberal? Of McEachen Rae quips: “An opponent of George Bernard Shaw described him as ‘a good man fallen among Fabians’ and I have always felt that Allan J. was ‘a good man fallen among Liberals.’" Did Rae, at this time, have any inkling of what the future held? But I digress]

To suggest that Meech is history is wrong, outright. We are one PQ victory – nay, one ambitious PM only – away from reinvigorating the old debate. If my Liberal party became the party of a Distinct Society, and willingly flew in the face of all that Trudeau fought for, I don’t know where I’d turn.

This is a live issue, and one that Rae must answer to.


Blogger Czar François said...

Being liberal does not mean you have to agree with EVERY thing the Party dictaes. I would hope that the our party was more flexible than that.

1:17 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

I agree. The point is the leader sets the mandate i.e. decides what the party dictates. So if there is a disagreement between the leader and the party at large, that's something worth discussing. If we install a leader with which we profoundly disagree (and I can't say that we all do but I know I do) then we are a party that stands for nothing.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

This is not a little thing. If the Liberal party was headed by Rae they would lose my vote and many others right off the bat. Add in his favouring the Meech Lake Accord and he further loses many more Liberals. There is no way that should have passed and Rae is an idiot to say so. He's pandering, that's it. Who needs Adscam when we have Rae ready to sell out the entire country for the sake of one province in the form of an Accord we already voted NOT to allow!

As for whether Rae could screw up the country the way he did Ontario - of course he could. Who do you know that fails at being a mid-level Manager yet still gets promoted to CEO? Nobody. Not in smart companies anyway. Rae will ruin this country if he wins the LPC leadership.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Zac said...

If my Liberal party became the party of a Distinct Society, and willingly flew in the face of all that Trudeau fought for, I don’t know where I’d turn.

Interesting post. Lots the think about.

Of course we can be the big tent party, but I think that strong Trudeau-esqe federalism is something that all Liberals agree with.

I have no doubts that the convention will come down to Rae, Dion and Ignatieff. If Iggy gets knocked off, I'm heading towards Dion. If Rae wins, I'm not sure where I'll go either. The NDP is, obviously, soft on federalism and the Tories project a provincialized view of our nation.

There are a few issues that would make me take a Kinsella-like walk from the party. Rae diving into the constitution, promising distinct society status to any region, is one of them.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I agree emphatically. Rae is the anti-Trudeau, he has called him an unreconstructed Fabian etc (well the leader of a coalition of such people). He viewed him as a nemesis, so when Bob Rae gets up there and talks about the party of Trudeau know how disengenous he is.

And as far as big tent, etc., that is not relevant here. Can you not have opinions on where the party should go? I should hope we would stand for thigns we believe in rather than say, oh well, someone might not like that so let's just forget about it. How big tent would it be for Liberals like us if Rae was in? Would people suggest we cancel his constitutional agenda (were there one) because we disagree? No.

Of course, what is most obvious is that this is a leadership contest. And so, what better time to say well I have a choice, and this person is for a vision I disgaree with, so I choose someone else. That is the essence of backing a candidate.

As for the issue, Rae's support for these accords speaks for itself. It is a disastrous approach. Dion I would not be so sure about, he ceded in SUFA as much as Meech really. And that is not an attack, the SUFA feds were quick to point that out as a point of pride. While better than constitutional change, hardly too thrilling. And here we find the one issue that Kennedy has said absolutely nothing frustratingly.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

Why has Kennedy said nothing? He doesn't have to - let the other candidates beat this dead horse all they like. Five more years and the dream of Quebec sovereignty is done. I'd like to focus on improving Canada's social infrastructure over this time and everything will take care of itself. Raising these inane constitutional quibbles will only stir up the pot.

Isn't this funny - it turns out that Rae's past positions are worrying for the future. This reminds me of someone else, I just can't remember who.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Mark that is the most ridiculous reasoning I don't even know where to begin. You see what you are doing, finding some hillarious defense for your candidate even when he's clearly wrong, that is what is dangerous, just knowing you agree with the end of him winning so any means is fine. This is what gave us the Kennedy speaks for the East because he married someone from there notion.

And as far as saying nothing, you are right he is saying nothing because he doesn't have to. But not for any altruistic reason, but for nothing more than political motivations, because it is a touchy and controversial issue. And that my friend is the opposite of the gutsy street-fighter you profess to love. And of course we don't want to placate Quebec sovereignty and work on social policy, do you know who you're talking to? But burying your head in the sand doesn't make things go away. And its not even as if we are suggesting this route to constitutional reform over another, we are saying leave it alone so we CAN focus on the exact things you say are important. So if you were really concernced with that, it is impossible not to also care deeply that our next leader does not belive we should go down this constitutional mess/path. Five more years with Rae at the helm granting Meech style decentralization and the dream of one Canada will be done. That is no nicety that is a defining pillar of the LIberal Party of Canada as a national institution.
Inane constitutional quibble? I'm sorry but we didn't call it inane to raise how many barfights Chretien had one, but now you suggest this issue is inane? Come on. The whole Trudeauvian federalist argument is leave it alone constitutional tinkering is going to benefit the elites and the working class will suffer under seperation, but at least we have to have the guts to say we'll talk about it. If Kennedy agrees with Rae, then we could be in trouble, that is why it is vitally important he say SOMETHING, and why he absolutely is not. Not for any concern for Canada but for his delegate votes. That is unimpressive leadership. I'm not convinced about Ingatieff on this, hell he may agree, but that is not a free pass for Kennedy.

As far as the Rae comment, what is the point? No one ever said Ignatieff's past positions aren't relevant. As far as Iraq it is a worthwhile distinction to note a personal opinion vs. a prime minister's opinion, but he has never shyed away from his positions. How bizzarre. He could easily say no screw Iraq I was wrong and have everyone on board but he doesn't. As far as tortue, etc., I don't think there is a difficult distinction to make between reflecting on someone's past positions, and refelcting on misconstrued misrepresentations of their past positions. And yeah having a history to stand on means something. Ignatieff luckily has years of this. I'll take his human rights, liberal political philosophy any day. I only wish Kennedy HAD some positions to base support on or against. Makes me wonder how powerful these magic intangibles are...

11:08 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

By "we'll say somethign" I don't mean we'll get into it, I mean we'll cut off the discussions before they occur, and say no, we don't need to mess with the charter etc., but at least say that rather than believe it but just let it happen.

11:10 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

You aren't really crafting Kennedy's silence into some sort of principled position!? That's almost as absurd as accusing me of betraying the poor whenever I mention the constitution.

Let's be clear - and I write this on a day when my own support has been thrown askew after Ignatieff's devastating comments about Quebec. In other words, I have by no means ruled Kennedy out. But this needs to be said:

Kennedy has not steered clear of these larger issues. He has developed his own approach - "doing politics differently" I suppose. That is - gimmicks gimmicks gimmicks.

He has concerned himself with winning Quebec to Canada's cause. But how? - by vacationing in Quebec with his family for a summer. Gimmick.

He is concerned with building federal consensus in the West. How - wearing an Oilers jersey and running in a Western riding potentially. No ideas - just gimmicks.

He is the candidate of the east, because his wife is an Acadian. Gimmick.

He is inovlved in all this inanity, he just hasn't brought any substance.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

"Quebec is a nation, not just a nation, but a civic nation."

"The federal government does not possess a monopoly in foreign affairs but it is appropriate for it to coordinate Canada's external presence to work together with provinces to ensure that Canada speaks with one voice, even if the voice that speaks for Canada comes from a province."

- Michael Ignatieff

In Kingston on Wednesday Kennedy stated publicly that Quebec maybe historical nation, but not a "nation" in the sense of a country, citing its large immigrant community. Let's not fool ourselves here - Ignatieff is going after the soft federalist wing of the Quebec Liberal Party that used to support Paul Martin.

9:59 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Secondly, you can't accuse me of being preoccupied with "inane constitutional quibbles" and missing the important stuff without expecting me to respond. It's individuals that I'm concerned for. That's the whole issue here. It is the collectivists and nationalists that want to shift our country's focus from providing life, liberty, and happiness for everyone to enshrining constitutionally their sociological being. Kennedy wants the Liberal party to listen to Canada's "small voices". If that's the case than he has a responsibility to stand up to collective tyranny, to ensure that the Haitian-Canadians, the James Bay Cree still have a province to serve their most basic needs. That is why we engage in "inane constitutional quibbles"- it simply isn't optional.

9:59 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

"Let's be clear - and I write this on a day when my own support has been thrown askew after Ignatieff's devastating comments about Quebec. In other words, I have by no means ruled Kennedy out."

I got there first Sholdice, and I'm devestated.

But hang on a moment! - "Kennedy stated publicly that Quebec maybe historical nation, but not a "nation" in the sense of a country"

I thought he cared about the poor and hungry! What a betrayal

10:03 AM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

All I'm saying is that Ignatieff and Rae are playing games with the sovereigntists. On the issue of national unity, I think Dion and Kennedy are the ones to trust. All I mean to do with my posts is to highlight my deep concern with Ignatieff's candidacy - which I've felt all along. I'm not saying that Kennedy is faultless - far from it. Ignatieff just plain scares the hell out of me.

There are plenty of other great candidates - Dion for instance is awesome. But we must be vigilant in who we elect leader. I don't want another fiasco a la Turner or Martin.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

All you are doing is approaching from the standpoint of I don't like this guy so find things to disagree with rather approach it with the attitude of I believe this and that and I will approach all candidates from that standpoint. I should note you supported Martin. Ignatieff is from the opposite wing as Marting. But regardless of that, quoting Kennedy is contradictory, so it is alright to talk about this then? I would love to hear Kennedy say the opposite of what Ignatieff said. However, saying it is a nation but not one like a country sounds exactly the same. Ignatieff said a nation but not one deservcing a state. Share wiht us the difference. Also, I mentioned right away that I wasn't sure of Ignatieff on this issue, even sayign "I'm not convinced about Ingatieff on this, hell he may agree" Your position seems to have shifted from it doesn't matter (because Kennedy hadn't said anything) to it matters if it is not what Rae and Ignatieff are saying (though I'm not sure its the same but you knwo what I mean). So you are now on board with Mike's original post? That's great.
I would love to see a strong federalist candidate. Show me. Dion? Dion is a good candidate, sure, I like him. However, through SUFA Dion basically ceded the rights in Meech, definitive of playing to the soft nationalists. He has called for greater decentralization, basically we can decentralize as much as we need so you don't have to leave. So how is it that he is so inspiring to you and Ignatieff so terrifying? If it is because of OTHER issues than say so, dont couch it in this one.

I am very interested in what Kennedy has to say. But where is the logic in just trusting him? WHy is he the one to trust having said nothign on it, although now that he has I see you quote him but still. I won't just "trust" Ignatieff, nor Kennedy. So where does he stand? Clearly you admit it matters now, or else wouldn't use it against Ignatieff I presume.

And by the way, who is fighting for the Trudeau wing of the party here and who is not? These ideas are from that so they are key. And what side were Turner and Martin on?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I'm inclined to defer to Rae on Federalism; he's not exactly a neophyte in this area. I would haowever be interested to hear how the other experts who have commented here have reached their conclusions... because Trudeau said so?

I wonder if anyone has ever estimated the cost that Canadians have incurred by not having this issue put to rest when we had a chance?

Rae is an idiot? Failed as a Mid level Manager? Carrie, I'm inclined to think you have no clue about what you're commenting on. Everyone who says Rae "failed" as Premier of Ontario seems to totally ignore the context of when he was leader, and the economic conditions he had to deal with; very few leaders, if any, would have come out of that situation with a sparkling record.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Robert, it is very odd that for someone who literaly bases their position on deferring to someone else
s judgement to suggest we are guilty of some crime. Rather, we have reached conclusions based on ideas. Have you ever wondered the cost of Meech Lake

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think quite a few Liberals supported Meech.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

judgement to suggest we are guilty of some crime

I never would have used the word crime.

I did say that: "I would haowever (sic...can I sic myself?) be interested to hear how the other experts who have commented here have reached their conclusions..."

Care to share some of the research Steve?

11:58 AM  

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