Today marks Bob Rae's last caucus, Question Period as interim Liberal leader. I think it objective fact that Rae has acquitted himself quite well in this transition role. Also fair, there was nobody else in the Liberal ranks who could have handled this job as well as Rae did, he brought unique gravitas, experience and eloquence that served the party well.
In the past, I and others have been critical of Rae, as it related to his participation in the permanent Liberal leadership race. Given the pledges Rae made himself, the unique advantages the interim tag brought, I stand by my concerns and in the end feel Rae made a classy decision that solidified his legacy as the ultimate "good soldier". Fairly remarkable that Bob Rae, former New Democratic, will be remembered as a loyal Liberal, who put party first in the final analysis.
Bob Rae wanted to lead the Liberal Party. Bob Rae wanted to become Prime Minister. Bob Rae probably still believes he could have led the Liberal Party to victory and became Prime Minister. However, events unfolded in such a way that we will never know how the party would have fared, had we had Rae at the helm during an election. Hindsight is a tricky affair, better to focus on what Rae has brought to the table, rather than theoreticals that have a tinge of romanticism attached.
The Liberals were considered dead and buried after the last election. Bob Rae played a critical role in keeping some focus on the Liberals, his intellectual stature, professionalism, wit and natural oratory charm, provided the party with credible, principled leadership. It is easy now to take Rae's role for granted, as we get swept up in the Trudeau euphoria, bringing with it thoughts of the ultimate comeback. However it was Rae that steadied the ship, helped maintain the coffers, spoke to the half empty rooms around the country, kept spirits elevated, provided hope and offered calm in the face of uncertainty.
Above all, it is hard to not have a certain respect for Bob Rae, he carries himself in a way few politicians can and this provides a unique stature. I was always struck by the fact the normally abusive, childish antics in Parliament would immediately come to a halt when Bob Rae would rise to ask a question or comment. It was obvious, people wanted to hear what Rae had to say, a certain reverence that NOBODY else enjoyed within that arena. That relative quiet I think the most revealing expression of where Bob Rae sits in the political hierarchy.
Well done Mr. Rae, the Liberal Party of Canada couldn't have asked for anything more...