Once we acknowledge that virtually all of us agree that the oil sands are vital to Canada, we recognize the absurdity of claims that this is in any way a nationally divisive issue. Even Justin Trudeau, the man poised to be the next Liberal leader, knows that developing the oil sands is the only choice for Canadians.
Bill Maher wrote to interim Liberal leader Bob Rae expecting the Liberals to do better than the Conservatives in their blind support of Canada's commercial seal hunt. Sadly, the response was typical of what's usually seen from politicians: excuses and sad attempts to deflect from the issues at hand.
My vision for Canada's future is one that appeals to our higher aspirations and hopes for the future, rather than to our fears, distrust, and resentment. In running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, I want to appeal to all those Canadians who are uncertain where they fit into Canadian politics, but want to talk about the kind of nation we are building, and what it is that makes us Canadian.
You'd have thought Maclean's would have blazoned the death of Section 13 all over its front cover. With a massive headline along the lines of "SCREW YOU, CENSORS!!!" Or "WE WON!!!" Instead, the cover featured a generic picture of an innocuous youngish woman and an innocuous youngish man grinning maniacally and the silly headline: "The majority of us are singles. So why do we still live in a couples world?"
When he took the interim job, Bob Rae pledged that he wouldn't run. So who's likely to be chosen liberal leader? It's a sorry field when Justin Trudeau seems the choice of many -- a callow fellow who many claim has charisma -- as if that's a substitute for wisdom and judgment. In fact, looking over the field of Liberal hopefuls, the only one with apparent substance of leadership is... Bob Rae.
Bob Rae's decision not to seek the position of permanent leader of the Liberal Party was a dignified one. But now the way forward for the Liberal Party is to rebuild in the best possible way. It's time to end the old boys' club mentality. Liberals are given an opportunity to show this to Canada by breaking down barriers for women in politics.
In what must have been a very difficult decision, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has decided not to throw his hat into the ring as the party approaches its 2013 leadership convention. His decision not to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party has increased the chances that the party will be able to reinvent itself and focus on what counts: A classy move by a classy guy.
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. After hearing the news, while I have great respect for his decision, I am disappointed.
It doesn't come as a complete surprise that Bob Rae has decided not to run for the Liberal Party leadership. Every politician has his "best before date" and Rae must have realized that his best years and his best opportunity to lead the Liberal Party back to government have come and gone. Rae's stepping aside will leave open the opportunity for generational change in the party.
Gossip about the political future of acting Liberal boss Bob Rae seems to appeal to precisely two sorts of people: the gossips themselves -- who were in full force this weekend -- and Bob Rae. Meanwhile, Toronto City Council's Wednesday night decision to ban plastic bags from Hogtown supermarkets will provoke some manner of "national discussion" on the issue.
Another week, another "will he or won't he" media look at Bob Rae and the Liberal Party. It has yet to sink in to for some Liberals that the leadership is a poisoned chalice and the "brand" is profoundly damaged and must be substantively redefined.
As we approach the month of June, the Liberal party will soon be making a decision on when to hold their next leadership convention. With roughly a month to go, there doesn't seem to be much interest from the public in what they do or, for that matter, what they decide. Clearly at this point in time the NDP offers voters the biggest contrast with the governing Conservatives; the Liberals still don't seem to fit in anywhere.
I am writing this while gazing out upon a farmer's field that has just had 1,500 baby red pines planted upon it. You have to squint to notice that the rows of little green tufts are anything other than early weeds taking advantage of the spring sun. I think the tiny trees, however, are a fitting symbol for our mutual Christian and Jewish holidays, celebrating -- indeed embodying -- the renewal of God's earth and spiritual rebirth.
Meanwhile, a resurrection of another kind was taking place in Ottawa -- Trudeaumania 2.0. With Justin Trudeau's definitive smackdown of Senator Patrick Brazeau in last Saturday's charity boxing match, it was as if the national media decided to read a lot into Trudeau's third-round win. As in: Were they thinking now that the young Trudeau -- and the Liberal party -- might rise on the third day also?
People who live 4,500k from the Toronto-Danforth riding read in the Vancouver Sun just last month that the Liberals were in a position to win; they'll now be reading about a "lacklustre, no name, uninspiring dud" candidate who blew the Liberals right out of the water. Imagine what that does for confidence in the Liberal brand.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae implies Lise St-Denis switch to the Liberals is an act of principle and conviction. Phooey. If anything, it seems an act of opportunism because the NDP is going nowhere in Quebec. Anyone who thinks the NDP won't lose seats in Quebec in the next federal election is smoking something that is illegal.
Canadian political life in 2012 will be anything but dull: uncertain economic times that could either strengthen or weaken Conservative support; two opposition parties in flux, fighting for influence and voter support; and a new leader for the NDP and the Conservative political machine.