Friday, May 13, 2011

With All Due Respect

I'd like to see if I can dip my toe in this pool, without getting scolded for being disrespectful. Mark Garneau has thrown his hat into the interim leader ring, and I think he's a strong choice, no problem if that's the selection. Reading a Susan Riley column today, she delves into the leadership question with the now emerging "insulting" thesis as it relates to Mr. Rae. I've heard that same sentiment expressed here and elsewhere, these interim leadership "stipulations" an affront. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't fair on the face, all reasonable rebuttals, all valid as part of calm debate.

I absolutely adore Bob Rae, he has a stature which few politicians enjoy. I've made mention many times, that during Question Period, pay attention to how the rancor stops when Rae rises, even his enemies quiet down because they want to hear the man speak, he commands that kind of respect. Well versed on every topic imaginable, philosophical, thoughtful, affable, attractive, engaging, charismatic, by any measure an impressive man, that Liberals are LUCKY to have within our ranks. So, if I depart from the Rae bandwagon, please don't be "insulted" if I think Mr. Rae needs to re access some realities here and come to the painful determination that he isn't going to become Liberal leader. Let's cut to the chase, everyone knows Rae wants the top job "bad", and it's been that way since he joined the Liberals. Fair enough, again a man of his experience surely can envision himself as the leader, has the confidence and skill to be capable and effective.

However, given what has just transpired, the gravity of the situation, the almost painfully obvious pre-requisite that GENERATIONAL change is job one, Bob Rae leading us into the next election in four years is frankly irresponsible and delusional. You can reference this historical leader or that, but for this Liberal Party of Canada, at this death bed juncture, the prospects of trying to re brand ourselves with the man who was a NDP Premier two decades ago, baggage to boot, seems like suicide. Again, and it seems many agree, we need a new leader, new in every sense of the word, which to my mind excludes Mr. Rae. Is that fair, is that disrespectful, is that not appreciating his contributions? I frankly don't care, I've watched two great men lead this party and get destroyed, was that fair? Fair doesn't exist in politics, what exists is the realities at hand, and rallying behind Mr. Rae as permanent leader, requires a complete leave of your senses in my HUMBLE opinion.

I'm waiting for Mr. Rae to realize that he isn't the best option moving forward, I'm curious if he can put ego aside and see the greater good here, because to my mind, it really is a no brainer, given the unique circumstances we find ourselves in. Bob Rae is the antithesis of "new", another time perhaps the ideal choice, but now? With that in mind, I hope Mr. Rae reconsiders and throws his hat into the interim ring, not because it insults his stature, but because that could be his best contribution. I worry that we will pick Mr. Garneau, and Mr. Rae will run for the leadership. That's Mr. Rae's prerogative, I know he would enjoy great support, from passionate and honorable Liberals, no question there. That said, you will never convince me in a million years that the answer to the Liberals problems, our future, is with Bob Rae. Things have changed, things have changed BIG TIME and people best forgot past aspirations and realize we have ONE chance to get this right. With all due respect, Bob Rae is never that choice, and frankly I don't even think we need the distracting prospect. That's just my read, sorry to offend certain quarters, but I'm not censoring myself, particularly now. It's time to move forward, it's time for generational change, internally, within the party apparatus and ultimately with the leadership and the time that aspires beside her/him. That's the reality, let's just get on with it.


Sherwin Arnott said...

I like your approach. And I'm interested in your view. I am curious to know to what extent you think the "reality" is determined by what the business media deems acceptable. Put another way, do you think Dion and Ignatieff were framed and ruined by the business media? If so, do the Liberals need to find a leader whose central feature is that they resist ruination by CanWest, the Globe & Mail, and others? These issues seem to be in the background here.

Steve V said...

I think we have situation where for every dollar spent on an attack ad, you get five in free media focus, and that's an important consideration. As I argued earlier, part of modernizing the party is to find away around the media to get our message out unfiltered. Not blame, but clearly we must find more effective ways to communicate. And I admit part of my considerations here have to do with ready made attacks, those that scoff, don't seem to incorporate that superfical judgements rule, once you are saying "but..." you've already lost.

A Eliz. said...

I would like Marc Garneau to go for the main leadership..people know him and like him.

Sherwin Arnott said...

I just reread your Sunday post and the comments. Makes sense. And I think it makes sense to take seriously, at least in the short term, the daft ways that folks make superficial judgements.

For my part, and in the longer term, I think blame works, since "news" media project a brand of having good judgement and clear vision, but they deliver an agenda set by their advertisers. If they just did one or the other, I would feel less critical of what they do. But it's the duplicity that makes me want to blame. And perhaps this is where our interests are aligned. My interest is a less persuasive corporate media. Your interest is to build a communications strategy that goes around the news media. Power to you.

Jerry Prager said...

I can accept the generational change issue as you see it Steve, and can see Rae as the builder of a truly liberal and democratic party.
It does not surprise me that a former socialist, moving through pragmatism into social democracy can see the reason for the death of Liberal Parties around the world: the failure of liberalism to solve the problem of corporatism.
Having traveled that path myself, I see Canadian liberalism divorcing itself from American neo-liberalism (so named by conservatives)and altering corporate charters in defense of the charter of rights and freedoms.

Steve V said...

"I can accept the generational change issue as you see it Steve, and can see Rae as the builder of a truly liberal and democratic party."

And to reconcile, maybe he's the perfect choice as interim. There will be a lot of heavy lifting to do in the next year, a lot of the reforms will come to the floor at the leadership convention.

Tof KW said...

Pick Bob Rae as your permanent leader, and the Reformatory's attack ads write themselves.

You know it Grits, and don't think otherwise.

I feel bad for Bob. And I say that as someone who voted for Mike Harris, twice, in order to get the NDP's stench out of Queens Park. Bob Rae was the only good part of that whole Ontario NDP government, definitely one of those dippers who's too good for his own party. And he was the only reason the NDP got that surprise win in 1990.

After he joined the Libs I thought that was good for him in joining a party that isn't full of left-leaning populist nutbars.

As you said Steve, the realities have changed dramatically since his initial leadership aspirations. Bob Rae is a gem and a huge feather in the Liberal's cap ...but not as your leader going into the 2015 election.

Rule #1 in politics is that politics is never fair.

rww said...

Problem is Bob Rae is even more too smart for Canada than Iggy was, or Dion was.

Steve V said...


We need a fresh start, how Rae is that person I'll never understand.


Good point!

CuriosityCat said...

Let's hope that Bob Rae passes on being Interim Leader and runs for permanent Leader, and that Justin Trudeau does the same.

Then in 5 months (or 2 years if the amendment passes), MEMBERS of the Liberal Party will for the first time in the history of the party have the right to choose their permanent Leader.

Steve V said...

Let's hope he comes to his senses.

Jerry Prager said...

I'll take Bob Rae's Ontarion over that of the Lack of Common Sense Reactionaries every day of the week. A Strawdust Cromwellian Reaction that ended with Flaherty hiding 5.6 billion in debt in the books he left the Ontario Liberals. Why was McGuinty saddled with Fiberals ? Because he made promises based on Flaherty's public books. Who turned the Liberals into the Fiberals ? The right wing media sheltering Flaherty from scrutiny, the Sun, now QMI.
Harris was a bully and a thug and had a terrible attendance record because, like Harper, he had contempt for the legislature.
In a debate Rae would strip Harris to the pig he is.

Kirk said...

Bob Rae will be 67 by the time of the next election where a Liberal leader might become head of the Official Opposition. He'll be 71 for the election after that. So I doubt he'll being serving more than 1 more term in Parliament after this current one and never be PM.

However, being younger doesn't mean being a reformer. I'd like to hear every contender for the leadership on party reform as much or more than their values and direction for the Party then we can make a decision.

Bob Rae could reform the party, lead us into the next election and possibly take us to Official Opposition status and then before the 2019 election resign at age 69 or 70 and make way for a new leader.

Not the scenario that you envision but it's not one that precludes rejuvenation for the Party.

Your argument, Steve, seems more based on optics and an easy target which aren't to be dismissed. But if the Liberal Party is showing strength they will be a target for both the NDP and the Cons just as always regardless of the leader or the validity of anything to attack.

Tof KW said...

OK, going off on a tangent, and this is a really crazy thought on my part, but since her 10-year term is ending at the end of May...

Imagine convincing Sheila Frasier to join the Liberal party and run for the leadership?

No idea how silly that is, or how warm/fuzzy an accountant can be with the voters. But I'll be damned if I can figure out any attack ad that the Reformatories could ever make against her.

Tof KW said...

In a debate Rae would strip Harris to the pig he is.

Jerry, the problem with the Bob Rae NDP government was never Bob was the entire Ont-NDP behind him.

And I agree with you on Jim Flaherty in charge of the books. This was a man who lied about our finances and took Ontario almost $6 billion in the red, DURING GOOD ECONOMIC TIMES! Even the NDP could do a better job than that.

Steve V said...


Now that's outside the box!


Not at all, if you think I'm just going to attach myself to a nice head of hair forget it, must be a reformer, and a legit one, not platitudes. And, you're right everyone will be attack, no matter the leader. That said, a question of degree on the baggage front, as well as the fact the brand needs a complete overhaul, so it isn't just what the Cons will or won't do, it's about what WE will present.

Your point about timing is relevant, because realistically we aren't winning the next election, so you're most likely into at 6-8 process, and even that is still shaky.


I completely agree.

rockfish said...

But where is this generational change? If you want him to park his dream, hope and passion for playing a lead role in rebuilding the Liberal Party as a political force, why should he be asked to sit still and wait and wait and wait to see if that 'generational change' really occurs?
Neither Trudeau nor LeBlanc are shoe-ins to run or have proven to have the jam and multiple skills necessary to put forth a strategy while fending off savage attacks from our competition (never mind our own habit to hold civil battles in public) -- they may have it, but there remains a lot to know about them yet... Kennedy is likely done for this round. What if someone emerges who we don't know? What if no one emerges and the generational change you crave comes in the form of McTeague or Bennett -- as examples only of amiable and devoted types who couldn't carry Rae's water... I so want to clear the decks for a new, fresh leader but there is no guarantee that the best candidates will surface. I don't know why Rae shouldn't be permitted to take on the interim tag and resign later if he so chooses to run for the leadership. We definitely don't need another coronation, and i'm certain you'll agree on that.

Steve V said...


Fair points for sure. One of the reasons I would prefer to wait a year, is so we have an opportunity to think of other names, outside of the immediate. I am NOT sold on those names you mentioned, so it's a fair question. All that said, I think people are kidding themselves if Rae is the answer, given how much we need to overhaul the entire presentation.

Glen said...

Bob Rae and Stephen Harper are very similar.
Both used prorogation during their time in office.

sharonapple88 said...

There are a lot of reasons why Rae might not be a good candidate... but I want to keep an open mind on this. If he has good ideas, if he can sell them, if he has an idea how to overcome the negative advertising he'll be hit with... then he obviously deserves the position. If....

Interesting post on falls and recoveries.

Went through Jim Collins's collection of articles, stumbled on this on misguided celebrity leadership.