11.21.2010 08:55 AM

In today’s Sun: from peacenik to hawk

“For years to come, political scientists will ponder how a genial, peace-loving former NDP politician was transformed into such a tough-talking hawk. After all, this is the same man who once declared that Canada’s participation in such conflicts “isn’t the wisest and best course for the world or Canada.” He said that in January 1991, when he was Ontario’s NDP Premier, and when the Mulroney cabinet chose to help remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Said Rae at the time: “Is this a cause for which I would be willing to go to the desert and fight for? The answer is no.”

Well, that was then and this is now, I guess. If asked, Rae will have a suitably plausible explanation for his change of heart about all this war stuff. He usually does.”

POST-SCRIPT: Rae was apparently livid, last night, that I posted on Thursday an email I received from within the federal Liberal family questioning his motives (which was picked up by NNW, days later). He even posted a Facebook status update about it, because I’m a “blogger” who makes stuff up, etc. W/e. Here’s what I posted on FB in response: “A politician like Bob Rae should know that his caucus colleagues are questioning his motives. It may not make him happy – but they are.” I’ve heard from MPs, Senators and many grassroots folks – they’re extremely unhappy about what Rae has done. And shooting the messenger will be about as effective as it usually is.


  1. Brammer says:

    “A politician like Bob Rae should know that his caucus colleagues are questioning his motives. It may not make him happy – but they are.”

    I can confirm that point. In a message from my MP’s office: “how can we bring democracy to Afghanistan when we deny the democratic process?”

    WK is not making this stuff up.

  2. Lance says:

    First Jason Cherniak was pissed with you, now Bob Rae. I’ve got to give you props for one thing – at least you stand by your convictions, though it cost you friends.

  3. Peter1a says:

    That’s aside from handing to Harper all he needed to stay in Afghanistan. Dammit we are peacekeeper country not war makers!!

    We should have stuck to what the House had voted to do. Pull out next year. Instead we’re stuck now till 2014 at least if not longer !!

  4. Michael S says:

    Both Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff come from wealth, from Canadian Establishment families. It’s not their sons and brothers who are getting posted over there. If you look at the statistics, most of our dead come from small town backgrounds, and this in a highly urbanized country. It’s easy to abstract Afganistan if the people going there are merely statistics an infinite degree of separation from you.

    Canada is not a peacekeeping nation. At the end of WWII we had the world’s fourth largest navy. We abandoned any chance of an independent military path when Diefenbaker killed the Arrow. Peacekeeping only is possible when it comes from a position of strength and confidence. There is a point to having a military presence.

    At the same time, Canada is not into futility. There is no there there. It will dissolve into what constitutes normal there as soon as we leave, as it done to conquering armies for millenia. The only training there is for a sideshow.

  5. Art Williams says:

    I am not surprised. As the first NDP Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae gave us casino gambling, Sunday shopping and wage controls on civil servants. I doubt there is any policy that he wouldn’t consider changing. Rae is less disciplined than our “Conservative” PM.

  6. Cath says:

    Know what I like best about your column Warren? Your use of comments on blogs inter-woven in your column. It sure sends a message to blog owners to be especially cautious about what folks are posting – good stuff and bad – because you just never know where it will end up. I’m conservative but visit the blogs of all parties. I’m glad that the blogs you chose for quotes are ones I visit and can relate to. I’m growing very tired of bad blogs when the opportunity to do some really terrific writing and commentary on issues that matter get swamped by either “data smog” (a term I like from of your books) or get into pissing matches over media. Too many contributors to blogs out there just don’t understand that they need to be accountable for their words because they could come back to haunt them. Good, bad or otherwise.

    Nice job of the column today!

  7. Rick T. says:

    Rae will do anything to get the Leadership of the Liberal Party. Good for him. Harper’s rooting for you and so am I because, hello majority. Ontario voters have a long memory of what Rae did as their Premier and they will not be voting Liberal if he is the leader.

  8. Richard says:

    Twenty years is a long time, even moreso in the realm of politics. A lot has changed in the world since heady post-Cold War days of 1991. For whatever reason, be it 9/11, the Afghan conflict, concern for human rights around the world, nuclear proliferation concerns, the export of democracy, or whatever combination of the above reasons or others that Rae identifies, he has changed as well. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    As Keynes famously stated, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

  9. John W. says:

    I can’t believe they have handed the whole anti-war high ground in English Canada to the NDP, who if they’re smart will turn it into a full blown crusade.

  10. Sean says:

    I ended my “Victory Fund” contributions on Friday afternoon. It was like an exorcism.

  11. Nasty Bob says:

    Speaking of handing over the high ground; so much for the ” Vote Liberal ’cause we’re no House of Commons thwarting anti-democratic party like the other guys” Thanks Bob.

  12. Nasty Bob says:

    Also, me thinks it’s time to start another party – The Canadian Citizens Coalition Party ( C3P for short ). I nominate you as the next PM!

    • James Bow says:

      You **do** realize what acronym you get when you open an Ontario branch of this party, don’t you?

      • Raymond says:

        How fitting.

        • Marc-Andre Chiasson says:

          3-CPO Très intéressant. Wonder who the R2-D2 of Canadian politics might be? The “R” probably stands for “Rae” and the “D” has to be linked somehow to “Defeat” or “Destruction”. It must a secret code for all you conspiracy theorists out there.

          • Marc-Andre Chiasson says:

            Correction…I should have written “C-3PO”. Small touch of political Dyslexia. Getting late in the Maritimes. ‘Gnight all!

  13. Michael Behiels says:

    Prime Minister Harper had the sole responsibility of putting a Resolution to the House requesting the extension of the Afghan Mission and outlining precisely what the mandate of that renewal would entail.

    It is the responsibility of the Leader of the Official Opposition and his MPs to either accept, amend, or reject the Resolution. What the other opposition parties do is up to them. Let the cookie crumble where it may.

    Parliament, which is designed to represent the will of Canadians, must decide. Not an autocratic PM with the consent of a weak leader of the Official Opposition Party.

    Both Harper and Ignatieff (with his side kick Rae) decided to make an end run around our Constitutional democracy. Canadians since 1982 are a fully sovereign people. Canadians are far less sovereign now that they were a couple of weeks ago.

    Alas our political elites, falling back upon the pre-1982 elite accommodation mode, have decided behind closed doors to make the decision to continue the Canadian Armed Forces participation in the war in Afghanistan.

    In so doing, Harper, Ignatieff and Rae have made a mockery of Parliament.

    Shame on all of them and the Conservative and Liberal MPs. And shame on the media for supporting this disgraceful violation of the democratic rights of all Canadian citizens.

    And, I adopt this position as a Canadian citizen who supports the extension of the Afghan Mission for Canada?s courageous and very effective Canadian Armed Forces.

    As a liberal democrat I accept the will of Parliament. What I can not accept, and what all Canadians can not and should not accept, is that such a momentous decision, one which puts the lives of Canada?s valiant solders at risk, should be made by Harper and a small coterie of his executive branch with the collusion of the leader of the Official Opposition and his side kick Bob Rae.

    Perhaps Bob Rae?s reward will be a Harper appointment to Israel. Good riddance to him if this rumour is true. He was a bloody disaster as Premier of Ontario, especially on the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional negotiations files and on the economy of Ontario.

    Keep up your good work Warren.

    • orval says:

      You must have been very angry at PM Jean Chretien. In 1999, during the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia over Kosovo, although the Chretien Government provided for debates in the House of Commons on the issue of Canada?s deployment of forces, it did not seek a parliamentary resolution supporting Canadian participation in the NATO military action against Yugoslavia. This is because it is the Crown’s prerogative to conduct foreign policy, including deployment of forces into conflict overseas (short of declaration of war). PM Harper has arguably now set a precedent with the 2008 resolution that Parliament will be asked to support the deployment of Canadian Forces into combat. PM Chretien, presumably with the support of the Liberal caucus at the time, did not believe this was necessary in 1999.

      The fact of the matter is Rae and Ignatieff are right to agree with Cannon, that Parliament does not have to assent to the deployment of Canadian forces to a non-combat role overseas. Given that the Liberal party in 1999 (and in 2005) did not think that even a combat mission overseas required a parliamentary resolution, I think it was fair for Rae and Ignatieff to assume that the Liberal party would be of the same view in 2010.

      Given the caucus push-back WK is describing, the Liberal Party of Canada position, to be consistent with its past actions, must therefore be: the deployment of Canadian Forces personnel overseas into a non-combat, or a potentially dangerous (ie possible combat) mission, must first be supported by a Parliamentary resolution in all cases EXCEPT when the Liberal party is the Government, in such case no Parliamentary resolution is required.

      • Michael Behiels says:

        Absolutely, I have been critical of the process of every government decision pertaining to the deployment of Canadian troops abroad since Chretien’s decisions.
        Then came the questionable procedures of Martin, Harper, and now Ignatieff and Rae.

        None of these decisions have been fully democratic!

        Canada is asking our brave soldiers to fight for democracy!

        The paradox is mind blowing!

        Canadians need to stand up for our brave soldiers and demand the full respect for democracy at home.

  14. MJH says:

    Ignatieff, and now Rae, have done themselves in as Liberal leaders. Who have you got left? Maybe the other NDP floor crosser, Dosanjh?

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