Bob Rae, 'the experienced guy', starting to look good
I don't have any concerns with Bob Rae's ability to conduct himself on the world stage, or to truly stand up for Canada.
Source : Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Of the eight remaining candidates in the Liberal
leadership contest, Bob Rae arguably has made the most headway since the start of the race.
With a bit more than a month to go until a Dec. 2 vote at the party convention in Montreal, the former Ontario premier is now looking like the best shot to win.
No fewer than four wannabe Liberal leaders who
dropped off the competition roster have thrown support to Rae: Maurizio Bevilacqua, Hedy Fry, Carolyn Bennett and John Godfrey, who early on had contemplated running.
At the start of the contest, Rae had backing from
a single Liberal MP from New Brunswick. Today, 10 MPs back his bid.
More importantly, Rae is in the No. 2 spot in delegate support behind Michael Ignatieff, a candidate who has been making too many political errors of late and has an "anybody-but" movement building against him.
It's generally recognized that, in terms of raw political skill among the competitors, Rae has the edge. While never serving in a federal cabinet -- an advantage Stephane Dion has been able to tout -- the one-time Rhodes scholar has done just about
He pointed out in an interview Monday while in Vancouver briefly that he has been elected eight times, as an MPP and an MP, in addition to serving as NDP premier of Canada's largest province. He has headed public and private sector studies, worked internationally, and completed major contracts for provincial and federal governments.
Conservatives have readily admitted, of those vying for the Liberal helm, the one they'd least like to confront is Bob Rae simply because he is so politically experienced.
"I'm job-ready," nodded Rae, sipping coffee and contemplating the prospect of an early election. "It's one of the reasons why my experience is of some help."
In his quest for a majority government, Stephen Harper is likely to want to catch the Liberals and their new leader off guard next spring, presumably unprepared for a quick vote.
The prime minister certainly didn't demur from calling a pair of by-elections in Ontario and Quebec for Nov. 27 -- a date that's inconvenient for the Liberals starting their convention that week.
Rae's biggest handicap in the race -- being contested by others with their own fair share of handicaps -- has been the question of his Liberal bona fides.
He noted during our conversation that he formally resigned from the New Democratic party eight years ago and, until April, when he became a card-carrying Liberal, was non-partisan, prepared to help candidates from any and every party get elected.
Should he become Opposition leader, Rae
cited two priorities: Reassessing Canada's armed forces commitment in Afghanistan, and repairing a federal-provincial system of grants and loans to students pursuing post-secondary education.
Rae also said he'd want Liberals to continue opposition to the U.S. ballistic missile defence shield. He'd want to reinstate the Kelowna accord aimed at bolstering aboriginal living standards and he'd renew the Liberals' daycare strategy.
He offered subtle criticism of Ignatieff, a longtime friend and leadership opponent who, speaking of George W. Bush, told a Toronto newspaper last week: "This president has been a disaster for the authority and the influence of the United States."
Rae said such comments were unnecessary. "I wouldn't, I don't do that. I don't think that's what you do. There's no need to be antagonistic. There's a need to be independent.
"I would absolutely stand comfortably with Mr. Bush in the Rose Garden. The job of a prime minister is to have a relationship with the president regardless of his party or point of view."
Rae predicted that, as a party leader, he'd differ from Harper in style as well as substance.
"I love the political process. I'd try to run an open
government with a style that's a little less confrontational than Mr. Harper's. And less hierarchical."
Added Rae: "I'm not a control freak by nature. I
believe you've got to give strong ministers a chance to do their jobs. And we've got to be more engaged as a country in listening to each other."