Daniel Veniez: Bob Rae is an honourable politician who doesn't deserve to be thrown under a bus

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      By Daniel Veniez

      While on a business trip to Ottawa last week, I dropped in to see Bob Rae at his Parliament Hill office. We were alone, and he was in a very reflective mood. I left with the sense that he had made up his mind not to seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. His family were united in urging him not to. But the health and well-being of the party was dominating his reflection and our conversation.

      While I have great respect for his decision, I am disappointed that Rae won't run. With Rae as an active participant in a conversation about the future of Canada and the Liberal party's place in it, you won't get mindless platitudes or speeches written by someone else. You won't get canned talking points written by someone else. What you get is the sum total of the cumulative wisdom and insight—with scars and all—of one of the most substantial political figures of his generation.

      Politics and governance is a craft, and it is not for everyone. Those that are good at it have learned through many years of learning, trial and error, of refining their craft, and of honing and tuning their message. Unlike a chief executive, for example, all of this happens under the constant and often cynical glare of the media spotlight.

      In the profoundly superficial celebrity-laden culture in which we live, everyone thinks they can do a better job than you. Everyone thinks they should be leader of the party. Everyone thinks they are the best equipped to govern. But they aren't. It takes a very rare breed to reach the pinnacle, as Rae has.

      He's not Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. He's an accomplished business leader, author, academic, internationalist, and public servant. He's earned his stripes the old-fashioned way: through his brains, hard work, and incomparable talent and ability.

      No one should be kidding themselves: taking on the role of interim leader was a thankless job. Just ask those that came before. But at the worst possible moment in the history of the Liberal party, Rae took on the job and performed masterfully. He was at his best in the House of Commons, and was incredibly tireless and resilient everywhere else.

      Liberals should pause to reflect on where the party would be today had Rae not taken on that assignment. He did so willingly, with enthusiasm, with humour, and with his customary grace and class.

      Rae is an honest, decent, honourable, caring, principled man. He did not deserve the nasty and uncalled-for shots he has received from within his own party. The man loves his country deeply and cares as much about his adopted party.

      He became a Liberal after much sober and thoughtful reflection. He understands what it is to be a Liberal much more than most Liberals do. The same can be said of Michael Ignatieff, another unceremoniously discarded and underappreciated leader.

      I had not decided whom to support in the upcoming leadership campaign. I'll make that decision when I know who is in the race. I hope that many good people will stand. But I do know this: The race will be less interesting and less substantive without Rae in it.

      I am frankly appalled by a party culture that doesn't think twice about unceremoniously throwing good people under the bus. It started with Pierre Trudeau undermining John Turner, and it has not stopped since. But I am happy for Rae and his family. They will not have to be subjected to that again.

      Canadians are wise to the Liberal modus operandi of throwing leaders and candidates overboard in the search for the next silver bullet and fad of the month. Nothing will—or at least should—replace a party that knows what it stands for beyond getting rid of Stephen Harper.

      Daniel Veniez is a former federal Liberal candidate in West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country. Reach him on Twitter at @danveniez.

      Comments

      8 Comments

      hAYOKA

      Jun 14, 2012 at 10:00am

      did you just say an honourable politician , that is the one of the stupidest thing I have ever heard

      14 9Rating: +5

      HellSlayerAndy

      Jun 14, 2012 at 10:58am

      Actually Bob Rae is closer to "Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian" than the average Canadian....he was born to rich elites who consider themselves far more important to themselves than they really are to the people who created their wealth.

      "accomplished business leader" -- nice try, but Rae has never owned a business or was a 'chief executive' and as always been a professional politician...like Iggy, Harper, Layton, Cameron, etc etc...the useless children of aristocrats. In the 19th century, the smart ones ran Daddy's empire and the stupid ones were either Parliamentarians voting to protect it or made Arch Bishops in order to moralize it.

      They are exactly LIKE aristocrats in that they have no meaningful role to anyone outside their modern Versailles garden party and who demand that public judge them on sincerity of their elegant words and not on their self-serving unprincipled actions.

      pfft!

      Scott Allan

      Jun 14, 2012 at 11:42am

      How ignorant can you get? Rae was a prominent board member in some of Canada's largest and best companies. He was a much sought after counsel as a senior partner at Goodman's, one of Canada's most respected law firms. Man, no wonder good people don't run for office with ignorant trolls like you people. Maybe if you had the guts to provide you real names, we could at least have a morsel of respect for your ultra partisan blindness.

      Marjan

      Jun 14, 2012 at 11:53am

      Bob Rae is a statesman.

      6 12Rating: -6

      Sylvia Beattie

      Jun 14, 2012 at 11:59am

      Veniez, is on the money again. I may not like Rae but I think he's absolutely right about the sickness that has plagued the Liberal Party's culture for decades. And now they are poised to select an amateur boxer with a famous name and even more famous mane. Good ride ce that that party. They haven't had an original idea since Pearson. They deserve to be burried.

      11 9Rating: +2

      Political Troller

      Jun 14, 2012 at 12:33pm

      If Veniez has all the answers why doesn't he run? He would most certainly lose but at least their would be someone from BC in the race. Now it's an eastern only contest. This guy would definitely shake things up!

      13 9Rating: +4

      John McKyntire

      Jun 14, 2012 at 12:42pm

      What a great idea Troller! A fluently bilingual business guy, lots of real experience, young and good looking, smart as a whip, tough as nails, and he isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He ran in my riding and I voted for him. That's how impressed I was with the guy.nhe speaks as well as he writes. The man also has a gorgeous wife. What a killer combo!

      11 9Rating: +2

      HellSlayerAndy

      Jun 15, 2012 at 12:16pm

      Lord Scott Allan wrote: "How ignorant can you get? Rae was a prominent board member in some of Canada's largest and best companies."

      A list so long that it would no doubt diminish the stature of Mr. Rae if you mentioned just single one....besides CERT. (oops ;-)

      ...and it is too bad the ignorant masses hide behind their anonymity both in print and the ballot, isn't it?

      In better times, you could have sent out your footman to put with this insolent scald in his place and then regale the Gentleman of the Club about the courageous day you rose to defend the honour of one of Her Majesty's barristers.

      pfft! redux

      11 7Rating: +4