Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rae The Public Servant

A Trudeau led the Liberal Party when Bob Rae entered the House of Commons. And a Trudeau leads that party as Rae leaves. The Dippers were never sure Rae was one of them. And the Liberals were never sure if he belonged in their camp, either. That is why they never elected him permanent leader of the party.

But there has always been a remarkable consistency to Bob Rae. He believes that government can be a force for good. He believes it has a responsibility to the less fortunate. Like his father, he believes that Canada can be an honest broker on the international stage. And he believes in fair play.

He stands in stark contrast to the present prime minister. The kid who used to deliver Richard Nixon's newspaper learned how not to do politics from Nixon. Stephen Harper used Nixon's politics as a template for governing this country.

We probably will not see Rae run for elected office again. But that does not mean he has abandoned public service. Tom Walkom writes in today's Toronto Star that Rae's decision to negotiate with Ontario on behalf of Canada's First Nations is all of apiece. He has a long record of seeking the just outcome:

If there was a high-profile issue, Rae was involved. The federal government asked him to inquire into whether there should be an inquiry into the 1985 terror bombing of an Air India flight (he said yes).

The Ontario government asked him to inquire into whether university and college tuition should increase (he said yes again).

He investigated softwood lumber exports for the lumber industry and Sri Lanka’s civil war for a non-governmental organization he chaired.

When a scandal over tainted blood erupted, Rae led an investigation into what to do with the Canadian Red Cross. When the Toronto Symphony Orchestra found itself in financial trouble, Rae negotiated a government bailout.

Problems with a native fishery in New Brunswick? Call on Bob Rae.

No one should doubt Bob Rae's ambition. He really wanted to be Prime Minister of Canada. But, in the end, he has done Canada stellar service -- without seizing the brass ring.


Kirby Evans said...

Bob Rae could cure cancer and walk on water, and I would still never forgive him for his blatant attack on organized labour during his time as premier. His effort at tear up contracts that were already signed was a fundamental, (and later shown to be illegal by the SCofC) attack on democracy and demonstrate one and for all that, like most of his political ilk, his real goals are fundamentally corporatist in nature. I don't know why it is that if you smile and talk about rights while stabbing the people in the back, you can still be considered a good public servant and even statesman. Rae may be stylistically far from Stephen Harper, he may talk about wanting to do something for the First Nations People, but like most Liberals he is very close to Harper in fundamental beliefs and corporatist story goes merrily on. Everyone tears up when he gives a good speech about his supposedly heart-felt concerns but his real 'social contract' is one in which the workers shut their mouths and obey their corporate masters. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Owen Gray said...

I taught high school in Rae's time as premier and was subject to his "Rae Days," Kirby. I was not happy.

But I wasn't laid off, as Mike Harris laid off nurses, who Harris compared to hula hoops because -- in his estimation -- they were obsolete.

Rae paid a price for his policy. But there is considerable distance between Rae, Harper, Harris and Harris' acolytes who now serve Harper.

A flawed politician Rae may be. But he is certainly a more honourable man than the present prime minister.