11.15.2011 09:07 AM

The once and future leader

Nice column. What it doesn’t address is that, in politics as in life, all of us have a past.  As Mr. Rae’s predecessor discovered – as he will discover – no one knows more about his past than the youngsters in the Conservative Research Group.  They have already documented, catalogued and digitized every mistake and misstep Bob Rae ever made, from the time he was in diapers.

Everyone has a past, everyone makes mistakes.  But Rae’s are on an order of magnitude that preordain the result.

It won’t be pretty.


The Toronto Star
Sat Dec 2 2006
Page: A15
Section: News

Conservatives’ anti-Rae button hits bottom

The Conservatives seem to have developed a small cottage industry in the distribution of anti-Rae material at this convention.

The buttons just keep on surfacing: “Go for Bob. Go for Broke!” says one. “Call me Bob. Let’s not talk about my past,” says another.


  1. AP says:

    The Liberals also had their book of Stephen Harper quotes that would scare the bejeezus out of Canadians — fat lot of good that did. Was Bob Rae the best premier Ontario ever had? No. Was he the worst? No. With all this talk of Bob Rae’s past you’d think that between 1990 and 1995 Ontario was plunged into some Mad Max bizarro universe where we ate our young and hoarded canned goods. I mean we had Rae Days for crying out loud! Not the sort of thing thing I would expect to see on the next episode of FOX’s, “When Despots go Bad.”

  2. David_M says:

    I think its a ruse to keep the CRG boys salivating at the prospect of having Rae in thier sights.
    They’ll build an entire wing in thier shop of horrors dedicated to the destruction of Bob and when the LPC has thier last minute leadership convention, there’ll be a last minute no show and the CRG kids won’t know whether to cry or piss themselves.

  3. Brad says:

    It would be nice if they devoted as much attention to running the country. And, one way or another, we are paying for all this crap.

  4. Anne Peterson says:

    Let’s document, digitize and catalogue every mistake Mr. Harper has ever made. Now that would be a a mountainous mess of material, wouldn’t it. As a good NDPer I am not really in favour of mean politics of the conservative kind, but sometimes events indicate that we do things we do not like to do. It may be necessary for the other parties to fight fire with fire. Then watch the bullies whine and scamper and scream foul.

  5. dave says:

    I read the column and a few of the comments. A few of the comments repeat the allegations about the rot, or stink, or corruption a the core of the Liberal Party. I realize that the column and the comments are just focusing on the Liberal Party.
    What crosses my mind is a comment from MP Stoffer near the beginning of the first minority Conservative government(you remember, after the election tipped by news of the RCMP investigation of Goodale). Stoffer had asked a question, and received the usual sneer, snigger and false accusation that this government uses to show its accountibility to the Canadian people. On his supplemental Stoffer observed that the arrogance that the Liberals had shown after 13 years in power had been adopted by the Conservative government in only a few weeks.
    Anybody who does not see evidence of rot at the core of our governing party either is in denial, or has just not been paying attention.

  6. Sean says:

    I’m no Bob Rae pusher by any means. However, I’m far from convinced of all the doomsday silliness. At the end of the day, he will do better than both Dion and Ignatieff. Better than Dion because he is better known and a better communicator. Better than Ignatieff because his loyalty to the country is unquestioned and he is a real political animal. He knows exactly what he is doing and he hasn’t been talked into this by a group of over the hill flunkies. Liberals are in a state of mind in which they will celebrate any result that looks better and has the appearance of being on the up tick. If the Liberals take even one seat from the NDP in the next election, it will be devastating to the NDP leadership.

    Lets also consider 2015. We will be looking back at 9 years of Tory lies and corruption. The economy will still be tanking. It is highly probable that we will also be looking at a drawn out NDP leadership mess. Is anyone really going to give a shit about what happened in Ontario more than 25 years ago. I don’t think so.

    • Cath says:

      there’s a reason why the NDP in Ontario hold 3rd place status….and it’s got nothing to do with Horwath, or past leader Hampton and EVERYTHING to do with the legacy of Bob Rae.

      Why would new potential supporters of the federal Liberals look to anyone other than new blood? I don’t think they would. I’m with WK on this one.

      • Ken says:

        That legacy being what, precisely?

        Why, as a non-Dipper, am I supposed to still be mad at Bob Rae?

      • Sean says:

        “it’s got nothing to do with Horwath, or past leader Hampton”

        I hope you are joking… they have been *by far* the worst leaders of any political party in Ontario in the last 20 years.

        • Cath says:

          As long a Bob Rae keeps his mug and his profile high, doesn’t matter what party he’s with, he’s done.
          Doesn’t matter who the past, present of future leader of the Ontario NDP is, Rae’s cooked the party for a long while to come….unless of course Rae gets what he’s always wanted…a merger. Feds. first.

    • AP says:

      So far, Rae has shown that he can take a punch and get in a few good shots himself. The media treat him as if he’s the real Opposition Leader while Nycole Turmel is still trying to find out where the washrooms are. There are second acts in politics. Does anybody really believe that Rae couldn’t hold his own in a campaign? Imagine Brian Topp (who is eerily similar to Michael Ignatieff in that he’s never run for anything) against Bob Rae — whose going to school whom in that showdown? What about an NDP led by Mr. Angry Pants Thomas Mulcair — Do you think Bob Rae will just fold up like a cheap suit against him? I don’t think so.

  7. Glen says:

    Fact is in a few years Canadians will get tired of Queen Harper and will be looking for an alternative (and no all you freakin hippies and dreamers the NDP doesn’t count as a a serious federal alternative) and nothing Bob Rae did 20-25 years earlier will matter.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Well said, Glen…..

      As well. Mr. Rae is no well meaning but naive Stephan Dion, nor is he the political neophyte Michael Ignatieff.

      Thia time round the Liberal Party will be prepared for whatever that fat bastid Harper and his wolf pack known as the Conservative Research Group can and will throw at him…..

  8. Ted says:

    Ronald Reagan was 70 when he became “leader of the free world” and, by some people’s account, the best President ever.

    Whatever you think about Reagan, age was not a factor.

    Whatever you think about Rae, age is not a factor.

  9. Philippe says:

    It doesn’t matter who you throw out there Warren, there will always be something. Just like Harper had a past (some of his outrageous “welfare state” statements etc…). Look where he is now.

    If we let the Cons scare us into avoiding a good candidate, we let them win. Rae’s a good communicator – and if the messaging is right, Ontarians will forgive and forget. In my opinion it’s about him getting ion front of the issue and explaining why things had gone wrong, and how it won’t happen again under his watch. It’s all about how he comes across.

    From what I’ve seen recently, he’s pretty good at taking a shot and giving a few back (much better than Dion or Iggy). I can picture him surviving in the trenches vs the Con attack machine.

    • Warren says:

      Well, I guess we’ll see who’s right, then. I defer to your greater knowledge of Conservative war rooms!

      • Ted says:

        I tend to agree with you Warren, but then Jean would have been the last candidate we should have picked in the 1990s: tons of “baggage”, old, already a loser (to Turner), facing a much younger, more energized party (at the time).

        Now, they didn’t have war rooms or 24/7 news coverage or digital databases the way they do now. And Chretien’s baggage is nothing like Rae’s. For one, Chretien never switched parties and was defeated by his party in favour of Turner, but never kicked out.

        I just wouldn’t automatically put “baggage” (the flip side of “experience”) up against another more significant mantra of yours “governments defeat themselves”. If the country is ready to dump Harper, they’ll go with the most convincing and credible leader. (In fact, if the country is ready to dump Harper, I’m sure he’ll skip town and leave the party in disarray and certain defeat as Trudeau, Harris and Mulroney all did.)

        And yes, since you are wondering, I can’t believe I’m even being the slightest tiniest bit open to the idea of being supportive of Rae.

      • Ken says:

        I was trying to think this morning where I’ve heard so many of the anti-Rae comments before.

        Then it struck me.

        1992, 1993. The “Nervous Nellies”.

        Swap out the names, and it’s word for word the same thing.

  10. Dan says:

    Rae is a known quantity. The conservatives can’t redefine him. For better or for worse, he’s already been defined.

    On the brighter side… Rae is a very sharp speaker, and one of the few in the Liberal party who can credibly take it to Harper. If there’s a guy who can take on the CRG, it’s him.

    If only his party would have his back.

    • Philip says:

      Exactly. The Conservatives had a hard time trying to hang shit on Jack Layton because they couldn’t define him in their terms. People had already formed an opinion on Jack. Bob Rae has the same advantage. Want to bring up Rae Days? Fill your boots. That’s when you shove Harris down the Conservatives throats. Ask them about Ipperwash, Bruce Nuclear deal, 407 gifting and Walkerton. A little bit of the: “Looting of the Ontario Treasury under Jim Flaherty” sauce might help Conservatives swallow their lump of shit down.

    • The Doctor says:

      I agree with your observations, Rae can’t be defined by the CPC attack machine they way Dion and Iggy were. They can slag him, but that’s a bit different. I think a lot of Liberal partisans and insiders have gotten unduly spooked by this whole CPC attack machine thing. Methinks Chretien would have considered this to be pathetic. JC understood that this was a blood sport and never complained about that.

      Rae’s a decent enough politician — whether he could bring the LPC back from the dumps in an election would depend an awful lot on policy and where he placed the LPC relative to the NDP and the CPC, and that’s almost impossible to assess at this point. And one’s opinion about where Rae should take the LPC tends to depend on whether you’re from the left wing of the LPC or the centre-right wing.

      • Ken says:

        Was it Warren Kinsella who once argued to never let an attack go unchallenged?

      • Philip says:

        This could be an opportunity. Currently Mr. Harper is off on the right, chumming the waters to feed his base. The NDP appears to be in two minds about moving to the center. Now would be a great time to set up camp there. Bob might pretty well placed to go there. Tried the unions, didn’t take. Definitely not a friend of big banks and oil companies. Perhaps like Goldilock’s porridge, Bob Rae just might be not too left and not too right.

        And he can laugh at himself. We could do worse.

  11. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    In my book ya dance with the one what brung ya….If Mr. Rae is successful in rebuilding and rejuvenating the LPOC, then I feel he deserves a chance at the brass ring…

    As well Mr Tulk I know the Conservative Party has many faults……but I didnt think ageism was one of them…..

  12. billg says:

    If you say it enough times it really is astonishing….”meet the leader of our revamped and renewed party, 67 year old ex NDP Leader and career politician Bob Rae”….
    Not saying he cant win but, how smart is starting the race from way behind?

    • Ken says:

      I’m pretty sure “way behind” is where every opposition party starts its attempt to dethrone the incumbent.

      Rae or no Rae, I’m in. You?

    • Jan says:

      The Liberals need above all else, a leader the Cons can’t wipe the floor with – Bob Rae is that. I don’t see anyone else that won’t be taken out in the first round.

  13. Philip says:

    I just love when Conservatives start concern trolling this site. Heart warming. Really.

  14. steve says:

    Hey Warren, why dont you run? Canadians would love to see a straight shooter, here is what I am going to do and here is why, but backed up by common sense, not lies.

  15. allegra fortissima says:

    Bob Rae’s mistakes in the past may be forgivable and forgettable – however, two of his words in the past may turn out to be a fatal error: “stupid blogger”.

    “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” (Niccolo Machiavelli). Good Luck, Bob Rae!

  16. Margreta says:

    Scot you are so right, the support is considerable: not only among older gen NDPers, but also, and crucially, Veterans. This group, whose opinion of “Taliban Jack” has no reason to waver, and who are traditionally Conservative supporters are seeing things with new eyes, thanks in part to the Veterans protecting Occupy protesters in the USA, but also, because of the Harper Conservatives planned cuts to an already inadequate administration. Meanwhile the Liberals have a 10,000 strong petition to stop the cuts to Veterans’ services.

    The topic of Liberal support made interesting reading in the Veterans’ Advocacy sites, precisely on the subject you mentioned Scot, one Vet who mentioned that he is still grateful to Bob Rae as Premier, for the retraining and apprenticing programs he was able to attend that gave him a chance at some quality of life after serving.


  17. bigcitylib says:

    My issue with Rae is not baggage but age. The LPoC needs to choose someone who, if they lose in 2015, will be able to serve as leader through the next election. Bob looks a bit long in the tooth for that.

  18. Jim Hanna says:

    I’ve never been a Rae supporter; I wasn’t in 2006 (I’ll cop to being an Ignatieff delegate). At that time, and after Dion resigned, I was sure that someone with the huge negatives in Ontario would be shooting ourselves in the face. And I think, that he was actually very very lucky not to have won the leadership either time, because the CRG would have made a meal out of him. He wouldn’t have beaten Harper at that stage (although arguably he’d have retained the official opposition – but that would have looked like a failure too). But I find myself reconsidering my opinion. First, he has an ability to deal with the negatives head on and with a sense of humour. He wouldn’t put up with the crap from the CRG that Dion and Ignatieff did. He’d punch back. That alone speaks volumes. He has a much better political sense than I gave him credit for. He’s been willing to put in the heavy lifting since May to get the party off life support; with little prospect of keeping the leadership. And right now, he’s looking pretty good stacked up against the NDP and Cons. He definately looks better than any of his competition

    So, are we going to run scared of anything the CRG puts out? As others have said, better or worse, he’s already defined. And the CRG boys will stone anyone – at least with Rae we have a pretty good idea where they’ll go with it, and can come out of the block with a reaction. We can’t run scared forever.

    As to his age; if he’s the best guy he’s the best guy. Voting for someone just because we think they’ll be electible has got us in this mess in the first place.

    At this point, I think the fair thing is to release him from his pledge not to run for leader; and if I’m a delegate I’ll support that motion. I still may not support him, but I’m a lot more open to it than I was…

    • Jim, I’m with you. I joined the LPC to vote in the 2006 leadership race; I was a Rae supporter. Out here in my riding (Peterborough) Gerrard Kennedy won. Too bad. Rae, warts and all, is a class act. Warren may fume, but do we all remember the days not so long ago when the Liberals used a hockey team as a promo metaphor? Let me digress: Rae is the best player to wear the “C” on his game jersey since that big left-winger with the sharp elbows from Shawinigan. This team cannot afford to trash its player.

  19. Jim Hanna says:

    Actually, as to the MP issue, what would the Conservative reaction be? the Liberal position seems to be to reallocate based on the current number of seats; so Alberta, BC, and Ontario would still see better representation. If it wasn’t for the grandfather clause not allowing seats to fall below the distribution from 1984, there’s no reason to just keep adding MP’s. And the Cons don’t have a great position – they’re dominated by Ontario Tories who were part of the Harris gov’t large reduction in MPP’s – for the same reasons that Rae is bringing up. They’d have to argue against a position they very obviously supported in the past….

    Alberta, and BC, need better representation – whether they need more MPS’s is an interesting debate.

  20. Karen briggs says:

    Bigcitylib and others lets stop this ageism nonsense. if there are real legit issues against Rae fine, age cannot be one of them.

    The discussion here has been outstanding. I use to be of the mind that Rae’s past was a hiderance to his future aspirations within the party. The feedback here has changed my mind. Rae has what it takes . he is as discussed here a fine communicator, a great Canadian statesman and would in all likelihood wipe the floor with any of the present party leaders in any debate.

    Warren I liked your Sun column on Rae but now disagree with your conclusion. I think the Tory backroom boys are deathly afraid of a pemanant Bob Rae as Leader of the LPoC and will do all they can to move us away from this idea. Scew them, lets move forward with Bob!

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