Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bob Rae - Leadership Questionnaire

Thanks to Bob Rae, who has submitted his response to my leadership questionnaire

1. Why do you think the Liberal party is in the position it is now, having lost a majority, and then minority government?

Harper won the office of Prime Minister because Canadians wanted to take power away from Liberals. He is not there because Canadians believe in Harper's values or the priorities of the Conservative Party. They are closer to the values of the Liberals than anyone else.

2. How do you envision being able to bring Canadians back to the Liberal party, and in doing so creating a greater grassroots support base for the party?

I can't think of a time recently when the choice has been clearer for Canadians but we have to put that choice very directly, emphatically to Canadians. We are dealing with the Republican Conservative Party - it is not the Progressive Conservative Party.

We have to be just as determined as they are in presenting a case to the Canadian people that is positive about what we want to do as Liberals. And we have to be tough about what the implications of a Harper victory/majority will mean.

Right now, the party is actually seeing a lot of activity at the grassroots, at the events I am attending, with other candidates, and through that, activity on the blogs, and other means, the party is doing what needs to be done to mobilize. We just have to keep it up. I have faced the Conservatives before and they are tough and will play hardball.

3. What is your greatest strength as a leader? What would your leadership style be? (i.e., in dealing with the press)

I believe I have a record of experience that I can offer to Canadians in dealing with some of the toughest questions - on softwood and trade; on health care and education; on Quebec and federalism. I have also run in eight elections, I know what the burdens of being a leader entail, be it in dealing with the press or in running an election or in terms of making the tough decisions.

I have also faced the Conservatives. I know what they are about and we have to be as determined as they are. In short, I feel I am job-ready, and we may be in an election very soon.

Most important I know this country, I love this country, and I want to ensure that we get back ontrack with a national government that is concerned about core Canadian values.

In terms of my leadership style, I suppose in dealing, with the press, or with voters, my approach has always been to be honest and straight up in all my answers. Anybody who knows me knows that when I get a question, I answer it. That is what Canadians want - they want politicians that answer the question. People may not like all the answers but people deserve more than just spin, which is what they are getting from Stephen Harper.

4. What are your thoughts or ideas on how the federal government should address regionalism in Canada? (i.e., Western alienation, Quebec separatism)

I am a proponent of federalism, at home or abroad. I have worked at the First Ministers table as an honest broker with Quebecers and I have worked overseas in Iraq and Sri Lanka. I served as chair of the Forum of the Federations through that time.

I believe that if we take federalism seriously, if we hold true to a belief in cooperation, treating each region with respect and real dialogue and understanding, federalism will continue to serve all regions and provinces well and continue to ensure that Canada is united and the success story it is today.

What will not help at all is the Stephen Harper approach to federalism, which seeks to hollow out the federal government's national role and purpose, turn it into a cheque clearing service for the provinces, and build "firewalls" (his words) between Alberta and other provinces.

5. What do you think Canada's ideal role is in the international community?

Foreign policy has become an important issue of the summer for the candidates and the government. I believe we have got to find our voice again in foreign policy - an independent voice that respects the distinctive role Canada has played as a peacekeeper, honest broker, and a trusted, respected contributor to foreign aid and development. We have to live up to the spirit of Lester B. Pearson, who used Canada's influence to defuse international conflict and crises through the UN.

I also believe we have got to reach the target set by Pearson of setting 0.7 % of GDP towards foreign aid. I recognize too that Canada has to carry its share of tough burdens, where action is backed by multilateral alliances, and due regard is given to supporting peace and reconstruction in the aftermath of conflict.

Mr. Harper, who would have taken us into the Iraq war and is flirting with a risky adventurism that is contrary to our values, and our traditions of independence in foreign policy. He shows a lack of understanding of how Canada best contributes, as well as a lack of respect for Canadians right to an informed debate about military commitments.

6. Anything you'd like to add?

Simply that the campaign is going well and that the party is going through a very positive and exciting discussion. I am in New Brunswick today and Nova Scotia tomorrow and in Montreal on Friday. Based on what I am hearing, I think Liberals are looking for both leadership and also a serious discussion of the issues.

The core of my vision of Canada sees us striving for prosperity with a purpose. I have outlined an economic policy plan that seeks to build upon Canada's strengths and make Canada's economy innovative, productive, sustainable and ensure it delivers opportunity for more Canadians to participate in the economy. At the same time what unites us and motivates us as Liberals is the need to stop Stephen Harper.

We have got to be focused about this and focused on what will be expected of the leader that must confront that challenge, and all that comes with it: leading a Caucus, Parliamentary tactics, addressing the media, building understanding between regional, linguistic divides. Leadership presents difficult challenges, but I know what it takes to lead and how to win. I have brought down two conservative governments and I look forward to doing so again.

Aside from all that I encourage people to visit my site, www.bobrae.ca, get to know me, consider the issues and the choices. They can learn more about me, donate on-line and I hope they get out and, and vote on Super Weekend (Sept. 29 to October 1).

If they are interested in going to Montreal they must file their forms to become a delegate ideally well in advance of the Sept. 15 deadline, and those forms are also available on my site.

All the best and thanks again for the opportunity.

Warmest regards,


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