There was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when Bob Rae shied away from the label “socialist” as if it were nuclear waste. Even under direct questioning from journalists, Mr. Rae would perform verbal gymnastics to avoid answering a direct question like: are you a socialist? But, of course, he was and still is a socialist. He was, in fact, the leader of Ontario’s socialist party, after having served in federal parliament as a three-term member of the federal arm of Canada’s socialist party, the NDP.
He’s still trying to fool Canadians. This time he’s trying to convince us that he wholeheartedly supports the leader of his new party, Michael Ignatieff, despite having officially opposed him for leader on two separate occasions. Even when he was voted off the leadership ballot in Montreal in 2006, he refused to endorse Mr. Ignatieff—just couldn’t bring himself to support his former roommate and supposed friend of forty years.
“Michael and I have a very good relationship. We talk regularly, we talk on the phone all the time, we’re sitting next to each other in the House of Commons. We’ve known each other forty years and we know what we have to do.”
- Bob Rae,
Sunday on CTV
Having had his second attempt to gain the leadership of the LPC thwarted by a backroom deal, I can see no way that Bob Rae is sitting back and passively watching as Michael Ignatieff pilots the party into a mountainside. Rae is too much of a partisan for that—too much of a fighter.
Consider the following:
- Rae opposed Ignatieff’s leadership in 2006 and again in 2008.
- Rae was co-chairman of the Liberals’ platform development committee leading up to the 2008 election—Ignatieff has discarded virtually every plank in that left-leaning platform.
- Rae was a prominent negotiator in last year’s Liberal-NDP coalition, and with Stéphane Dion pressured to resign as party leader, Rae took on the role of key coalition spokesman. Ignatieff reluctantly signed on with the vote-losing coalition, and ditched it as quickly as he could after becoming party leader.
- Rae is rumoured to have long wanted to see the the NDP (or a large portion of it) merge with the Liberal Party—he sees this unite-the-left strategy as key to forming a Liberal government. Ignatieff shows no sign of adopting such a strategy.
In the final analysis though, I believe that Bob Rae knows Michael Ignatieff only too well, and knew that the professor did not have what it takes to lead a major Canadian political party. Rae’s forty-year friendship helped him see through Ignatieff from the beginning. And Rae knows that something has to be done to prevent the LPC from relegating itself to a decade of being in opposition.
The knives are out for Michael Ignatieff. and Bob Rae will be there to have his stab at the leader.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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