11.13.2011 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: Bob Rae, parter of seas

Is Bob Rae the Moses of Canadian politics?

Moses, as you may recall, is a figure from religious history. According to both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, Moses was a prophet who spoke to God, and went on to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.

After 40 years of wandering around in the desert, he died at age 120, within sight of the Promised Land. He’s the guy credited with receiving the Ten Commandments.

Rae, as you may also know, is a figure from political history.


  1. Greg McGillis says:

    Um. Yeah. I think he is. What’s more important is how the party seems to have found ways to ensure that one of the most skilled politicians of our time sat in the wings during amateur hour.

  2. AP says:

    You know baggage or not, I can’t help but think that Bob Rae in an election would wipe the floor with Harper in any debate.

    • Jan says:

      And I don’t see any of the other Liberals doing it.

      • AP says:

        I’m going to predict that there will be no other person putting his or her name forward in the leadership race. Even if one or two lesser names run the pressure on them will be immense to step aside and let Bob Rae be chosen as the next leader.

        • Lance says:

          So, just like how Ignatieff was “chosen”, eh? No real race, everyone just “stepped aside” for a process of acclimation. If so, they will have proven to have learned NOTHING from the disaster that was Ignatieff.

          • AP says:

            Yeah except the difference is in Rae you have a seasoned politician who’s run campaigns as a leader — not a political neophyte. I guarantee you Bob Rae won’t need “Learn how to run a national campaign before the actual election is called tour” Tour like our friend Michael Ignatieff.
            If a snap election were called tomorrow Bob Rae would be ready to go.

          • Ken says:

            Except that the CPC Death Machine will be running that propoganda in the middle of trying to avoid blame for the second, and worse dip of the double-dip recession, running the biggest deficits in Canadian history, and bombing the country’s finances back to the Mulroney years.

            So good luck with that, CPC Death Machine.

          • Woody says:

            Except the CPC Death Machine would unleash their “Bob Rae killed Ontario” “Bob Rae switched parties” propaganda machine and I doubt the LPC has the budget to fight that war.

    • Ken says:

      It’s funny. I hear a lot of Liberals crapping on Bob Rae.

      I don’t hear that from my swing voter friends. Not at all.

      Almost to a man and a woman, I hear the exact opposite.

      • AP says:

        I also bet you that Harper and his war room don’t think that facing Bob Rae will be a walk in the park for them in the next election.

  3. Greg says:

    Can the Liberal party explain how we can sustain a middle class without unions?

    • smelter rat says:

      Gord, you’re on record here as being in favour of moving Canada towards a “right to work state”. If you’re so enamored of working for $2/hr. perhaps you should move south, where your true spirit lies.

      • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

        Workers Arise! You have nothing to lose but your living wage, benefits, and reasonable pension!…..

    • Woody says:

      They know the NDP has that locked up, so why not appeal to the middle class, some of which are in unions, many of which are not.

  4. JStanton says:

    … bingo. This is the LPC problem, more than being bereft of direction or political leadership. The party itself was run by incompetents. Hence the kumbaya notion that the leader should not be drawn from the political class, but from outside of it. Only Jesus or Brad Pitt can pull that off; instead we got Mr. Dion, an accomplished and decent man, but unelectable as Prime minister. Then the brain trust gave in to the notion that an international intellectual was just the thing to combat the anti-intellectualism of Mr. Harper, so we got Mr. Ignatieff, also an accomplished and decent man, but whose charisma only arguably exceeded Mr. Fiftie’s .

    Heck, we can go back further, to the palace coup that started all of this. It was the complicity of LPC brass that enabled Mr. Martin’s hubris to win the day, destroying the most successful political brand in the democratic world.

    And now, with Mr. Rae the only grown-up left standing, LPC brass is still playing hard to get, and laying down conditions that continue to scuttle the party’s chance of emerging from the wilderness. Who the hell are these people, and why have they not been spanked and purged?

    Ms. Copps better win this thing, and clean house. We need winners and winning conditions to take on this stacked deck-Conservative behemoth, itself begat by LPC ineptitude.


    • JStanton says:

      er… yahh… this was a response to Greg McGillis’ cogent point about the counter-intuitive nature of LPC administration.


    • Dan says:

      Ignatieff galvanized progressive forces against him.

      I was there when he was parachuted into the Lakeshore riding. It inspired me to volunteer.

      For the NDP.

      And there were a lot of other young people who showed up in 2006. People getting involved for the first time, who promised this man would never be Prime Minister.

      And then his hamfisted apology. “I was wrong about Iraq but my heart was in the right place. You were right about Iraq because of petty anti-Americanism.” By then there were hundreds of young activists against him. (And in that group, many former Liberals.)

      You can’t blame Paul Martin alone. The Liberals won landslide victories and everyone assumed it was because the country loved them. That has a way of attracting a lot of petty powermongers. Ignatieff (and the team who picked him) was another symptom of that problem.

      In a way the Liberals were victims of their own success. The more they won, the more they looked invincible, and the more they attracted people who hoped to have their “turn” in power. Not realizing you aren’t entitled to power. You have to earn it.

      They stopped trying to earn it in 1993. That was when they campaigned on child care, and against the GST and NAFTA. The next 20 years would be marked by the hubris that they could absorb the PC party. It was no longer the party of Trudeau. It was the mutant offspring of Frank Stronach and Paul Martin, with a swarm of hacks competing to be the midwife.

      The only reason they kept winning was that the Reform was so repulsive. But it was only a matter of time before the PCs went back home to a united conservative party. And by then, whatever principles Trudeau had instilled in the party were gone.

  5. Pat Heron says:

    Excellent column Warren. I am impressed that you were able to circumvent whatever bad stuff lies between you and Bob Rae. I hope Rae will cut out this particular column and read it frequently. He will need reminding that, although he is accomplishing superlative and unexpected rebuilding of the Liberal Party, he’ll have to know when and how to pass on the leadership. The baggage he carries is, and will continue to be, exagerrated. The Cons will never let him get away from it. But for now, he’s the person for the job! And he’s doing a great job. You too.

  6. VH says:

    “But he’s still insisting on going ahead with job-killing payroll taxes — a move that Rae rightly says is a disaster during a time of high unemployment.”

    Question to Warren: can you name any active conservative or Republican *anywhere* that doesn’t think all taxes are “job killing”? It wasn’t true in the 1980s, it wasn’t true when Obama said so last year and it isn’t true now that Bob Rae says so.

    This is dangerous stuff here and it looks like you’ve now apparently succumbed to 40 years of right wing b.s. about “job killing taxes”.

    First off, a EI premium isn’t a “payroll tax”. That’s just a Republican phrase meant to convince you to give more money to the 1 percenters via a tax “break” so they can raid the EI funds just like they’ve raided everything else in recent years. You may have noticed that down south, Obama is setting up Social Security to be raided in the future by cutting off direct funding for it now and turning the money into a government budget line item.

    Second off, not paying the EI simply turns every temporarily unemployed person into a welfare recipient.

    Now I’ll agree taht Bob Rae will indeed be leading the Liberals into the promised land…it’s just not going to be the promised land of liberal dreams, it’ll be more like conservatopia.

    Via a Reuters article, here’s a glimpse of that future promised land today, – it’s Illinois where businesses can just keep the income taxes paid by their employees instead of the taxes going to the government. That’s right they are allowed to legally steal money from their employees. After all, those income taxes are “job killing”.

    Thanks for nothing Bob.

  7. Wannabeapiper says:

    Hmmm. Don’t think you can compare anyone to Moses but if I had to, I think Jack Layton might be a better comparsion.

    Moses however, could kick the shit out of both Rae and Layton in a street fight using prison rules.

  8. jon evan says:

    No, Moses is very much alive today. His God is the God of the living not the dead.

    Is Rae dead (politically, as you say)? Rae has a grudge with the NDP (the old NDP led by the union bosses). He has a grudge too not only with you but the old LPC who won’t let him be the leader. He wants to appeal to the middle NDP and unite them with the middle LPC and become the new leader of a new party. That’s his aim you’ll see!

  9. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    I have always liked Bob Rae…….back in the day, my NDP MP Mark Rose(probably the best MP my riding has ever had, and a man I had a great deal of respect for), was a very big fan of Mr Rae. Having watched the speech, in fact a number of speeches since Mr. Rae became leader, I feel the LPOC need look no further- Mr. Rae obviously has the right stuff…….intellectually he can better Mr. Harper, and his demeanour comes across as warm and engaging, unlike the dour Mr. Harper.
    Unless there is a messiah waiting in the wings that I dont know about, the LPOC could do no better as a choice for leader(baggage and all) than Bob Rae……

  10. Dan says:

    I like Mr. Rae. He’s might be the last Liberal left who can distinguish the “principled middle” from “talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

    If Libs picked him instead of Ignatieff, they’d have protected their left flank instead of galvanizing it against them.

    More importantly, Bob Rae can make inroads into the West like no other Liberal.

    But in 2011, GROWING the Liberal party is no longer on the table. The best he can hope for is reclaiming what the Liberal party has become: a regional Ontario party.

    And Bob Rae’s weakest spot is Ontario.


    Two years ago, Rae could have saved the Liberal party. But circumstances have changed, and now he might be the nail in the coffin.

    • The Doctor says:

      Why is it that “Bob Rae can make inroads into the West like no other Liberal”? Have you got evidence to back that statement up?

  11. James Curran says:

    “With his opponents in, ahem, disarray — and with his Liberals finally crafting a message that will appeal to the middle class — can Rae lead his party, Moses-like, to the Promised Land of government? Him, personally? No way.

    Him, personally? No way? As I’ve said Warren, Bob has no notion of stepping aside for another leader. The Pharoah said: So let it be written, so let it be done. I don’t think Bob, after being srewed over in 2008, cares what is written for leadership contestants in 2013 and what it looks like. He’ll be on the ballot.

  12. allegra fortissima says:

    Attended Crichton Street Public School in Ottawa, Horace Mann Public School and Junior High School in Washington, D.C., and International School of Geneva, Switzerland. Graduated with honours from University College, University of Toronto. Received his law degree. Was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford. Studied at Balliol College, Oxford under Isaiah Berlin… Bob Rae, another Liberal with brains. Please, please don’t hold this against him (mind you, he also pursued a career as a paper delivery boy in Washington and and as a social worker in London, U.K.)!

    • James Curran says:

      Not to mention the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario,, etsc, etc. Minus the Rhodes, kinda reminds me of the last Liberal leader. Will Bob be pension eligible by the time the next election rolls around?

      • allegra fortissime says:

        What is it, that quite a number of Canadians reject politicians with a strong intellectual background nowadays? The Czechs voted for Vaclav Havel. The Swedish for Olof Palme. The Germans in Saxony for Prof. Kurt Biedenkopf. The Italians now and finally have Mario Monti. Not that they were without opposition and opponents, but a sentence like “an accomplished and decent man, but unelectable as Prime Minister…” etc, no, this statement I’ve never heard in Europe!

        • James Curran says:

          Mario Monti? He wasn’t voted in. And, he won’t be if he runs for the office next year. And, Bob was electable as a premier once and as and MP 3 times. But as PM? UNELECTABLE!

  13. Rick Thomson says:

    Bob Rae is running for the Liberal Leadership and will probably win. Therefore the Liberal Party will be in Opposition for a very long time and just maybe disappear as they did in Merry Old England. Ontario voters will not let this Flim Flam Man become PM, they have a very long memory.

  14. Tiger says:

    Suspect that Rae’s record during the last major recession might not drag as much, now that we’ve been through another major one.

    What choosing him as leader would mean is this: Harper would need a second majority to hold government, as Rae would otherwise be very happy to take a minority government down.

    OTOH, I’ve heard many a blue Liberal say that if Rae’s the leader, they’re gone for good. But maybe most of them left already.

    • pomojen says:

      Someone here already mentioned that Ignatieff tried hard to hang on to those blue liberals. And it didn’t work. Isn’t the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results?

      Frankly, I don’t know about the Doc. He’s hard to pin. Maybe that’s true of a lot of those blue liberals. Or maybe he’s just ornery and oppositional. Some people argue for sport, like to provoke. Especially around here.

      Regardless, I don’t think tapping too much into the blue is going to save them. In a postmodern kind of world, where identity and political orientation is harder and harder to describe in broad strokes, it gets distracting to figure out where to aim precious resources. But I think it’s actually getting clearer every day – the radical centre.

      The right and (choke) left are both looking more and more like caricatures of themselves to me. I have thought this about the right for a long time – no surprises there. But I am starting to feel that way about the federal option on the left, post Jack. I feel so bummed. Still hoping for a turnaround when the leadership is determined. But man..it’s taking forever and it’s killing them right now. So hell, if they are turning ME off with their inefficacy….

      Warren, If nothing turns around for the NDP and the Libs can mount something I can swallow and looks promising in terms of kicking these current bums to the curb…well….let’s just say I think you guys need to aim your resources at me and my kind. Might be the first time I try out the big red tent.

  15. Philippe says:

    My take on Rae is that he’s doing a great job and has the potential to re-instill pride in our party. I would support him for party leadership – primarily because I believe he gives us the best chance to win.

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