Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ In Support of Bob Rae

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Nov 22, 2006

Not that this should surprise anyone, but my endorsement for leader of the Liberal Party goes to: Bob Rae.

I should be selfish, I suppose. A Rae win would divert votes from the newly resurgent New Democrats. But that party, and especially current leader Jack Layton, has always been about supporting good government, not political advantage, and so my selection goes to the best candidate, not the most opportune candidate.

That said, I will say that if another candidate wins in the Liberal vote, then it is very likely that the rise in the NDP's fortunes will continue, as voters will be convinced, after the Paul Martin coup and then this, that the Liberal party has abandoned its progressive roots and become what the news media has always wanted: a corporate-friendly moderate right wing coalition.

On the other had, should Rae win the leadership, then I think it may be time for he and Jack Layton to sit down and talk seriously about becoming a coalition of some sort or even a united party. Coalition politics, of course, works much better in a preferential balloting system such as in Australia, where the ruling National Party has long managed to stay in power by virtue of such an arrangement.

In Canada, it would cement the leadership of the left, as we as a nation have long leaned in that direction, the Conservatives, despite their occasional successes, being for the most part a marginalized political philosophy, supported only by U.S. money and people who yearn for the good old days of monocultural Canada.

For his own part, Rae says he has learned from the lessons of the past, but he doesn't apologize for his performance as Ontario's premier either. Nor should he. The nae-sayers who condemned his government promptly turned around and showed how to really wreck a provincial economy, with the Conservatives' 'Common Sense Revolution' being reduced to something just short of a joke and his party reduced to a political rump. And they managed it in economic conditions far more favorable than those faced by Rae, who had to content with Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney's Made-In-Canada recession.

With Rae, my expectation is that we will see a return to the progressive centre-left style of government that we saw under Jean Chretien, a government with a relatively modest political agenda but one which makes steady and, over time, significant progress toward issues such as the environment, health care, and social welfare. Even if I support the NDP federally, I can applaud this sort of government, and would find it much more to my liking than what we have seen under the Harper Conservatives.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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