Monday, December 08, 2008

Bob Rae figures out democracy

(Ignatieff and Rae)

All weekend, I'd been hearing rumors about this, but today I was really surprised to read press reports about various MPs moving for an immediate vote to elect our Leader next Wednesday, in the Commons caucus.

I thought I'd seen a lot of politics over 30 years of public service, but this one really came from left field.

The idea of taking away the vote from tens of thousands of grassroots activists in every part of Canada, and reducing the franchise to just 76 men and women seems so out-of-step with the modern world.[bolding is mine] It makes you shake your head. Here's just a quick, off-the-cuff list of things that struck me as wrong about this idea:

  • The activist base of the party would be unable to vote. As an MP, I'm enormously and profoundly grateful to the volunteers who sustain my political career in my riding. I cannot imagine rewarding their tireless work by removing their say in the leadership.
  • Significant portions of the country that didn't elect a Liberal MP would be unable to participate. What about the voice of rural Liberals, of almost all of Western Canada, of Quebeckers outside Montreal? All of these folks would be silenced.
  • What about the Senate? These great Liberals, distinguished Canadians from inside and outside of politics, would have their votes taken away after lifetimes of service.
  • What about the Party Constitution? The party is preparing a perfectly viable, constitutionally valid plan for holding a one-member-one-vote ballot electronically in mid-January. That's just a few weeks away, and gives us time to prepare for the Conservative budget. It's timely, legal, workable, low-cost, and constitutional.

It's up to us to put a stop to this hasty, ill-considered idea for electing our leader. I am raising my voice publicly for your right to vote. Please help me by raising yours as well.

Ah yes, Mr. Rae is the champion of the right of people to vote for Liberal party leader. But as for the right of you and me to vote for which political party forms our government, well ..... that's not on. Here's what the Toronto Star had to say about Bob Rae's involvement in the formation of the coalition.

There is no doubt that Jack Layton is the brain behind the anti-Harper coalition and St├ęphane Dion is the funny salesman who tried to sell it to Canadians. But the person who sold it to the Liberals was Bob Rae.

When the first rumours about the coalition surfaced last week on Parliament Hill, few people gave them much credence. Many Liberal MPs wouldn't feel comfortable with Dion leading the Christmas Parade in Vaughan, and Michael Ignatieff and his supporters were against it.

Then former prime minister Jean Chr├ętien got involved and one MP told me that "now it's clear that Bob Rae is behind this." He also said that Rae's move "trapped" Ignatieff, who had to support the deal because otherwise "he is going to be seen as the person who kept Harper in government."

Why confine democracy to Grits, Mr. Rae? If it's good enough for Grits, it's good enough for all Canadians.

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