Bob Rae, PWOPA’s & Other Words I Invented

9 06 2012

The intertoobz have been awhirl with proclamations and castigations since it was discovered that the Liberal Party may change their rules and let Bob Rae run for leadership. This revelation was, coincidentally, on the same day that we became aware that Tory wonk Dean Del Mastro was being investigated by Elections Canada. So aligned were the gods of political opportunity for HarperCons on this fateful day that the Minister of Education may as well have announced that Bob Rae’s name would forthwith be spelled D.I.V.E.R.S.I.O.N.

Nonetheless we’ve all been there, done that and, dare I say, even got the t-shirt (which was promptly stripped off our backs). Nothing about these HarperCon tactics is new or even surprising. Harper drew a line in the sandbox a long time ago and he’s been hurling Tonka toys at anyone who disturbs it with such ho-hum regularity that I find myself stifling a yawn even describing it.

If you would indulge my whim, I’d rather talk about something that WAS surprising. It lies not within the folds of Liberal party mechanics which may reverse course on the Bob Rae ticket because this is, after all, politics. “It’s politics, duh!” – the new and improved iteration of “It’s the economy stupid!”. The surprise, for me at least, is in the vehemence with which non-Liberals are decrying the potential Rae run. Akin to someone yelling fire in a crowded theatre, I almost believed, but only for a fleeting moment, that the end of the world was going to chase me down the street, into Harper’s sandbox and hold me down until I cried uncle – though I’ve never understood why calling the word uncle was ever able to satisfy a bully’s need for dominance, but that’s just me. (Oh and I’d like to apologize to the old man I knocked down when I raced in abject terror from the theatre. Sorry dude. My bad.)

These “People With Other Party Affiliations”, or PWOPA’s™ as I affectionately call them, have dusted off and trotted out talking points that until now had been neatly stashed away in their petticoats. Someone please pass them the smelling salts quick before they faint again at the outrage of it all! Bob Rae running for Liberal leader! Harrumph!

These aforementioned petticoats remained perfectly unruffled when Bob Rae was doing a powerful job in opposition during the time of up-for-grabs leadership in the NDP. But like a wild-west gunman’s fingers twitching just above the holster, so did their talking points fidget to be freed.

Talking points: 1)“Bob Rae lied” … 2)“He used his position as interim Liberal leader to advance his agenda of becoming permanent leader” … 3)“He wasn’t able to change the needle on Liberal Party popularity during his tenure as interim leader”. In reality these are all non-issues. To adherents of talking point number one I say he did not lie, he said he would adhere to party regulations which he is doing. On the second point I counter that he was a strong voice on behalf of Canadians and progressivism – would they have found it more acceptable if he’d been a shrinking violet in an especially divisive House of Commons, I wonder? But more than that why does that mean he shouldn’t run for the top job? I don’t care if he used his position as a springboard for a leadership run (it would have been foolish to have done otherwise), I just want to choose the best possible leader. On the third talking point put forth by PWOPA’s™ I would argue that polls are not the political overlord that we are led to believe. In fact, don’t even get me started on polls or I may have to get out my sombrero and do the Hat Dance on a Nanos poll and, believe me, that would not be a pretty sight. Suffice it to say that three years are an eternity within the Canadian political aperture.

But here’s the nutshell: So what? So what if he didn’t move the poll numbers, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the right to have him included in the pool of candidates. So what if he had a higher profile due to his position as interim leader – in fact, more reason to have him in the pool. There’s no smoke without fire… unless you include dry ice, which I won’t since it would render my adage meaningless.

None of these detractors has shown even a spark of appreciation for the work Rae did in standing up not just for Liberal values but – hold your breath while I tiptoe onto a limb here for a moment – progressive Canadian values. So, fine we have party politics as usual – you demean my leader and I’ll demean yours and we’ll all feel good about ourselves after. What bothers me, intensely, about this twaddle is the implied limitation non-Liberals feel they need to impose on my choices for Liberal leader. The Harper arrgle-bargle and fog of politics is spreading to the progressives of this country and making them behave in a HarperCon kind of way (read cynical). It has permeated our mentality so much so that some are now able to pronounce on outcomes before the empirical data is in. In fact before these outcomes have even ‘outcomed’, so to speak! (Science! Huh-yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!)

Let me give you an example: it has been suggested by these modern day prophesiers and PWOPA’s™ that the new mechanics by which the Liberals propose to choose their next leader have failed. Wait! What? It hasn’t even happened yet, has it? Has Stephen Hawking been throwing tachyons of providence into our political mix? Let’s calm the hyper-partisan spin down and stick to the facts, when we get them in the future after the Liberal leadership experiment has been tried and tested.

My puzzlement about the wrath of non-Liberals over a potential run by Rae centres on why they are so passionate about the Liberal choice for leader. Why are they, seemingly, intent on limiting our choices? Most of us prefer to squeeze the fruit and pick the most delectable before throwing our money in the till and so it should be with those who we choose to represent us in government. I say give me options, give me all the options, tell me your plans and values and let it percolate and only then will I throw my money in the till. Only when I have squeezed your fruit, so to speak. But don’t expect me to believe that an apple is rotten when I haven’t squeezed it for myself. I don’t know who my vote will go to in the Leadership convention for the simple reason that no one has even officially thrown their hat in the ring and no platforms have yet been heard. The assumption that Liberals will vote based on celebrity as opposed to policy is a miscalculation and is immediately revelatory of a shallow understanding of core Liberal values.

I don’t know if Bob Rae is the best choice for the Liberal party going forward. I don’t care about poll numbers, particularly since an election is three years away. I don’t care about age or celebrity because in the end excellence is the great unifier. I do care about core values and policy. I do care about preventing the slow and painful erosion of my country due to the ideologically driven HarperCon agenda. And I do know that Bob Rae has done a great job for all progressives as interim leader and for that I am grateful. Bring on the leadership race and allow us to choose from a pool of strong, varied and interesting candidates, a pool which would be all the poorer were Bob Rae to be excluded.

P.S. Guys I was only kidding about the ™ symbol on PWOPA – I just thought it would make it look all academic and thoughtful.

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