Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bob Rae: Liberal Poison

The Toronto Star has an excerpt of Linda Diebel's new book on Dion, which paints a rather unflattering picture of Bob Rae in the leadership aftermath. The National Post has another story on Rae, which like other recent pieces, concludes that he is positioning himself for another leadership run.

I like Bob Rae, I think he could be a great asset to the Liberal "team". However, if Rae's main motivation for running in the next election is to lay the foundation for other another leadership run, I say don't bother. I admit some surprise reading Diebel's excerpt, in that, Rae seemed to have adopt this posture that he was screwed at the convention, which conveyed entitlement. Remember, Rae was the outsider who quickly became the insider, with all the early endorsements and backroom brokers, not to mention a few at the convention. Nobody stole it away from Rae, people made choices, some went to him, others didn't. It's called politics, and for Rae to hold a grudge seems like arrogance of the highest order.

Whenever I hear Rae comment on the Liberal Party, he offers the scripted responses, but it is always accompanied by this tone that conveys unfinished business. Bob Rae is coming to Ottawa with a singular goal. Bob Rae isn't coming to be a productive MP, he is waiting in the shadows for one last chance at personal greatness. Ignatieff might be doing the same, so the criticism isn't exclusive, but that doesn't forgive Rae's ambition.

The last thing I want to see is some thinly veiled manoeuvring for Dion's job, as though he is terminal. It's divisive, unproductive and tiresome. There are bigger issues for the Liberal Party than wasting energy on succession and positioning. I have to ask, what is Bob Rae doing for the Liberal cause, that isn't a reflection of his personal cause? I honestly believe Bob Rae comes to Ottawa to usurp Dion, and if that is the motivation, than he is pure poison. I'm willing to bet there are insiders privately sanctioning a Liberal lose in the next election, knowing that it helps their direct self-interest. Sorry to say it, but I'm not convinced that Bob Rae wants the Liberals to succeed in the next election. Is it country or vanity that drives the desire?


ottlib said...

Linda Diebel is one of those journalists that cannot let go of the notion of Liberal infighting.

Some journalists made their name and careers reporting on the Martin/Chretien schism even though most of the time there was more light that heat.

The same is true in this case.

Ms. Diebel even went so far as to write a book about the phantom infighting of the Liberal Party and that reflects more on her as a journalist than the facts.

Which are:

The leadership race was a staid affair, very much unlike the Chretien/Martin race of 1990, which I remember well. If any of the main candidates have lasting bitterness over what some of the other candidates said or did they had better find another profession. Their skins are way too thin for this game.

Bob Rae was out of politics for over a decade. He was the last real contender to enter the leadership race and I got the impression there was a definite hesitation to get involved. I believe he joined mainly because of his brother. So I am not convinced he joined the race because of some burning ambition to be the Liberal leader or PM. As well, he took his sweet time in announcing which riding he would run in. All of that makes me doubtful that he would be motivated to try to actively work against Mr. Dion. I am not even convinced he wants to be an MP. Part of me thinks that he is only running to save face and to keep his word.

For almost 15 years journalists had the opportunity to write about division in the Liberal Party. With the departures of Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin they are now bereft of a narrative that served them well for those 15 years. However, we all know that the facts will not get in the way of a good narrative so they will just keep telling that story, substituting the characters.

That is their perogative but that does not make it true.

knb said...

I picked up Diebel's book today, so I will let you know if there is any more insight there.

It seems to me that the Diebel piece in the Star was speaking to Rae at the time of the loss. Fresh wounds and all that.

As for the Post piece, well, a blog troll could have been asking those questions of Rae. It appears that Linda Frum might be hanging out with her brother a bit too much.

I want to believe that in the face of all that Harper is and what he is doing, that the Lib's will work as one to de-throne him.

It sounds like there is bitterness with the underlings who supported the candidates and I wish they would all just grow up and devote their energy to what is, not what could have been.

It occurs to me that the Jane Tabers of the world keep these people fueled and thinking they are important. Perhaps if she'd go after a real story, life would play out as it should.

Steve V said...


There was plenty of heat, the old divisions weren't a media fueled creation, they were real. Suggesting otherwise is far too convenient, and doesn't address the backroom, insider powerplays.

If Rae has hesitated on running in the election, his decision to jump in is a calculation that he still has a shot. Rae isn't running just to "save face", there were plenty of outs if he wanted them, and it's not like he was some lifelong Liberal that owed people.

Steve V said...

"I picked up Diebel's book today"

Look forward to the review :)

The reason I question Rae, is because I don't see any burning issues that lead him to run, or at least he doesn't articulate them. During the campaign, Rae offered essentially nothing but shallow rhetoric and personality. Why is Bob Rae back in politics? What is the agenda, besides a return to glory? I think these are fair questions, and I don't believe the wounds have really healed, Jane Taber's bad journalism aside.

knb said...

Why is Bob Rae back in politics? What is the agenda, besides a return to glory?

Fair questions. I saw him interviewed at some point during the race. His dislike for Harper and how bad he was for the country, was visceral. I think at this point, he still feels he can have an impact during an election.

I don't know for sure Steve, but I'm not sure he would have stuck around if he was only in it for the win. I have no doubt the man has an ego, but I suggest it's tough to be in politics without one.

He left a sort of "elder statesman" position, to run. It would be easy for him to go back to that.

Time will tell us the truth I suppose.

Wow, Duceppe is out now! (sorry the radio's on) Now that's a man that reads polls!

ottlib said...


I was in the backrooms for much of that period. There was more light than heat.

The only time I ever saw any tension was what was made up in the MSM.

The same is probably true in this case.

Steve V said...


Are you actually saying that the Martin and Chretien camps were in unision? There was no tension, because many people have gone on record, no anonymous sources, to say that people didn't even talk, let alone work together.


I think it had to be the polls. Is this the shortest campaign run in history?

burlivespipe said...

Ok, i'm not in any 'loop' nor have i read the diebel excerpt. However I find it dubious if not down-right mischievious to suggest that Bob Rae is lying in the reeds, planning Battle II.
I was a Rae delegate and I'm active in my riding association. There has been no talk of a Rae re-enforcement. In fact, the people who fielded most of the work here in BC re. Rae are scattered to the wind, helping differing candidates and preparing for the next election. We heard rumblings that Ignatieff people were trying to stuff local executives 'just in case' there would be a quick leadership review (after an election), but that hasn't come to pass. And Ignatieff has demonstrated excellent teamwork skills. Rae? He's maybe lying low, but everything I've heard and seen indicates he's eager to be a part of the Dion team and help bring down Harpor.
I think knb said it best...
I'm not sure he would have stuck around if he was only in it for the win. I have no doubt the man has an ego, but I suggest it's tough to be in politics without one.

Anonymous said...


One reason why Bob Rae needs to run.

Better to have someone pissing inside the tent, than have them pissing at the tent from the outside.

The election will probably be later rather than sooner. All Rae can do now is to be at Goodmans and wait. As long as Rae and Iggy check each other out, Dion is relatively safe.

ottlib said...


What I am saying is I went to meetings where Martinites and Chretienites were in the same room and there was no tension.

It is true that they were not into back-slapping and gladhanding but they did work together and rather effectively too.

I always found a disconnect between what I read in the newspaper about the tensions between the two camps and what I saw when I worked there.

I had the opportunity of being in the government lobby after a budget speech once and I saw Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin having a civilized conversation. For two men that were said to despise each other it was pretty surprising.

Of course, there was tension and it bubbled to the surface on occasion in a very public way but I rarely saw any evidence of it behind the scenes.

I am not saying there was no tension between the two camps. It existed but it was not as pervasive or as disruptive as the media liked to portray it.

So, that is the reason why I am taking Ms. Diebel's book with more than just a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

"Ignatieff might be doing the same, so the criticism isn't exclusive"

Pretty heavy charge to level at the Deputy Leader. Any evidence? I mean, aside from just Linda "Anybody but Iggy" Diebel? She doesn't offer any proof either, assuming you don't count 'embarrassing the leader by outperforming him' to be party of a conspiracy.

As for Rae... remember the Bob for Bob email? All of it true. He has never stopped campaigning. The only reason he came back to run: (1) he saw Dion faltering and (2) he saw Iggy doing well. That's the measure of the man.

Steve V said...


I used "might" for a reason, it's an open question.


I appreciate your insights.

Anonymous said...

It makes me ill that bob rae is in the liberal party....he is a real jerk...i know from the old ndp days...he likes the power and is a bad dont look good naked bob.

Anonymous said...

I think Diebel is biasing her own opinion and wants to see it that way.

If you remember, her articles during the leadership campaign were always heavy against Rae and Ignatieff. She always favoured Dion and now her book is showing it.

I don't understand where she gets this info. For example, how would she know exactly what conversation went on between Dion and Ignatieff when it was between the two of them only.

And, think about it. A get together "only hours" after the convention really didn't give the candidates that lost much time to "feel good" again did it. They were tired, campaign worn, dealing with losing after all those months of campaigning and in a mere fews hours they were to forget they lost, the hype of the campaign, etc. Isn't this a little stupid to think that it's Howdy Doody time in a "FEW HOURS".

Face it, she's not exactly the greatest writer.

Anonymous said...

Everything Diebel said about Rae is true. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone within the LIberal party like Bob Rae...seriously...I know lots of fans of Dion, Kennedy, Ignatieff...I've just never met anyone within the party who actually likes the guy....