Sunday, September 24, 2006

On the Subject of Fighting Back...

I have some replies to attacks on Rae by bloggers recently.

Bob Rae is being painted as a traitor to the party because he gave some money to NDP candidates in the last election. I checked the government disclosure database, and Rae gave donations of $250 and $300 (a total of $550) to two NDP candidates, along with $300 to a Liberal candidate. It's a personal thing whether this bothers you or not, but it doesn't bother me because: (1) All three donations are probably to friends; (2) I have read a fair bit of political biography and I understand that politicians make cross-party friends, and often aren't as partisan as they may seem in a debate (and thank god for that; they need to be able to work together after all); and (3) it's not enough money to make any difference.

Rae's comments about ideas are being misinterpreted to mean that he is not a man of ideas or that he doesn't believe in ideas. It's so ridiculous to say that Bob doesn't have ideas that I don't even know what to say to this one. Go take a look at Bob Rae is all about ideas. A leadership race is about choosing a leader, not choosing a platform.

Lots of bloggers are claiming anecdotal evidence that Bob Rae is a disaster in Ontario. There have been three large, independent, credible surveys recently, all showing that Bob Rae has very strong support across the country and especially in Ontario, both in the general public and among Liberals. See here, here, and here. Here are some quotes from the survey results:

* "Dryden and Rae are significantly ahead of other contenders among the general public"
* "Rae does comparatively well in Ontario, where he is in first place"
* "NDP voters are disproportionately attracted to Rae"
* "Bob Rae continues to hold a lead in the number of people who say they would vote Liberal or consider voting Liberal if he was leader... In Ontario, Rae enjoys a wider lead..."
* "Bob Rae has increased his potential to draw soft NDP support, which is a very important segment of voters for the Liberal party to focus on."
* To the question, "Which candidate would make the best Prime Minister?", Liberal party members who said they were going to vote in the candidate selection ballots answered Igantieff 16%, Rae 15%; and in Ontario they answered 18% for both. These were the highest scores of any candidates.

Finally, some people persist in saying that Bob Rae was a disaster as Ontario premier. He was a very good premier. A North America-wide recession struck during his first year, and he was vilified by his own party by coping with it in a fiscally responsible way. The Ontario NDP is still bitter that he didn't embark on a $10 billion auto insurance program while the deficit was skyrocketing. Rae did the right thing. For more information, see here. For my personal recollections of his premiership, see Why I Left the NDP.



Dan said...

I agree with you about the donations - who cares. But, I couldn't disagree more with the last half of your post. I grew up in the 905 during the Rae days, and from talking to friends and family now, they are discrediting the liberal party for even having him as a candidate. I think that's a little much personally, and think that he's a welcome addition to the party - but that's it.

One brief example of Rae's ideas and leadership when premier: Healthcare.

Trying to combat the rising cost of delivering health care, Rae incorrectly assumed that the reasons healthcare was so expensive was due to the doctors. He then initiated an ill thought out salary cap that took no account of overhead, and scaled back funding for medical school sites. The result? Massie emmigratino of ontario docs to the states in subsequent years, as well as a diminished supply of new young doctors to replenish and renew - all in the face of an aging population and inevitable mass retirement of baby-boomer docs currently carrying the brunt of the work on their backs.
A good idea would have been to work to retain docs in the system with creative ideas to cut costs (restructuring fee systems, curbing skying pharmaceutical costs... god forbid anybody mention PREVENTION).

The people of Ontario have a number of bones to pick with Bob, and a lack of physicians and intolerable wait times are some of them.

Skeena Liberal said...

yappa ding dong,

out all the candidates Rae has the biggest can re-write history all you want but the fact of the matter is Rae's baggage in ontario and his lack of support in the praries is not concerning but out right dangerous for the terms of the gandalf poll it is ironic that rae has the biggest negative with ontario voters's great that he has some support among liberal voters but if we donot have a leader that broadens our base then what goes is that...also many ontario voters are fiscally conservative voters and over the years have voted liberal b/c of the party's socially progressive views and also on its government of the economy from the right..i.e the chretian/martin years.......yes i asked approximately 100 liberals about rae..including another couple yesterday afternoon a very simple question..would you vote for the liberal party with bob rae as leader...the answer these are not card carrying liberals i.e. these are the people who vote but are not actively involved in politics..say all you want but that is the truth...another point that we have to regain support from the voters that went to the conservatives - their soft support is about 6-9% is rae going to capture that nope!!!! and from the ndp will rae capture support from the ndp maybe but will expand our seat count possibly by 5 - 10 seats but will that help us in the praries nope, atlantic canada nope, quebec nope...bc maybe , so what is the point of electing rae there. is no point..
francesco (not francesca)

Skeena Liberal said...

also i surprised that you did not post my comments on your blog...i have meet some of the other bloggers at the liberal agm....and they all have posted my comments...i guess that is your choice...

Yappa said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your post. It's refreshing to get intelligent counter-arguments.

I remember when Rae implemented the salary cap on doctor's remuneration (isn't it still in effect?). I thought it was a good idea, and still do. I also think that the shortage of doctors was more a result of the changes in health care transfer payments during the Chretien years and is a Canada-wide problem, but you could be right that the caps contributed to it. And you could be right that he might have tried alternatives. I don't see it as a disastrous plan. He found a middle way between the British salary system and the US sky's-the-limit system.