Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bob Rae: an articulate voice for "the other" everywhere

Appearing this week with Allen Gregg in conversation on TVO was Liberal Foreign Affairs critic, Bob Rae.
His subject, his new book, "Exporting Democracy," although, as he puts it, you can't really export or impose a democractic form of government. He emphasized that democracy is about much more than ballots, and that there are so many features of being a human being that, if individuals in countries currently struggling with conflict among and between the various ethnicities were asked about whether they would accept some common conditions, would answer in the affirmative.
A few of those conditions, that Rae believes apply anywhere in the world, including:
  • the right to make a living and to keep enough of that income to take care of your family
  • the right to know that you can live in safety and security
  • the right to know that if you are charged with a crime or misdemeanour, you can expect a fair trial, without having to bribe some government official, to plead your case...
And it is Rae's commitment to such non-partisan human values, and his continuing participation in questions of governance in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka...and one might guess there will be others...that gives him both a stature and a podium from which to enhance that stature, both at home and abroad.
Trained as a lawyer, Rae, who served one five-year term as Premier, joked in this TVO interview that he served four years as a very good premier; it was only the first year that he would say 'there was not enough thinking about where we actually were' and like Obama, in the White House, that coloured the following four years.
As a non-political observer put it, at the end of the interview, "He has a capacity to relate to people that I do not find with Ignatieff;" and that just may be one of the sustaining attributes of his political career.
Whether or not Ignatieff can lead the Liberal Party through a successful election and into even a minority goverment, (the best any pundit would see in the offing at this date) seems doubtful. And then...what happens to the Liberal Party at that time?
Who knows? And we can expect that whether Mr. Rae actually becomes leader, he will likely serve in a senior capacity, with others, in an honourable effort to regain the confidence of the Canadian people.
He believes strongly that Canada has to support both the Israeli government and the Palestinians in their pursuit of a two-state solution, and that there are conditions that must be accepted by the organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, namely:
  1. they both must respect the right of Israel to exist
  2. they both must renounce violence and the means to violence
  3. and they must play a positive role in the development of a two-state solution...
What remains from the interview, is that Mr. Rae makes one, certainly this scribe, proud to be a Canadian; his sense of Canadian history, and his articulation of the right of the "other" whoever that "other" might be in any political situation and his commitment to include the "other" in any political equation in which he pariticipates  defines Mr. Rae as a negotiator with any party or group anywhere in the world in whom one can place trust, can expect fair and penetrating questions, and a sense of the reality of the situation clearly articulated and forcefully advocated.
Whatever happens in the next election, Mr. Rae will be one of the Liberal Party's most valuable assets in planning and in electioneering and in fundraising in support of the party leadership.

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