Leadership Profiles: Bob Rae
"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down."
Background: After attending U of T, he was elected as an NDP MP in a 1978 by-election, so he certainly has experience getting results for people. He was easily elected provincial NDP leader in 1982 since, well, it's not very hard to win the Ontario NDP leadership. After winning 25 seats in 1985, he signed an agreement with the Liberals to prop up David Peterson as Premier. The 1987 election was a disaster for NDP and Rae barely held his seat in the Liberal sweep.
Recently History: Bob Rae and the NDP won the 1990 Ontario election, surprising everyone. Like most Premiers who are elected at the start of a recession, Rae's popularity soon fell and, try as he might, he couldn't turn things around. Enter Mike Harris. Rae has developed a reputation as a statesman in recent years, writing the aptly titled Rae Report, and advising on a potential Air India Inquiry.
Six Degrees of
Rejected Campaign Slogan: "Make Today a Rae Day!"
Rejected Endorsements: Mike Harcourt & Glen Clark
Rejected Platform: "Vote me in as your leader and I'll buy a Liberal Party membership"
Pros: He's got more experience in politics than the rest of the field combined and, despite what some will say, experience matters. While a lot of Tories may not like the guy, Bob Rae may very well be Jack Layton's worst nightmare. Bringing the 5% of soft NDP voters out there back to the Liberals might be the party's best chance to form government. He's also fluently bilingual.
Cons: Ontarians over 30 might not have a fond memory of Rae. And Ontario is a pretty big province to write off.
My Take: From everything I hear, Bob Rae is a very decent person and he'd bring a lot to the race. But should be he leader of the Liberal Party? Well, not if we want to form government anytime soon. There comes a point when baggage simply outweighs experience and Bob Rae is simply unelectable in my humble opinion.
Chances: Rae has a lot of the Chretien heavy hitters on his team so he will certainly run a credible campaign and show well. I doubt he has the mass appeal to win a multi-ballot vote, but I expect Rae to be in the top 5 after the first ballot.