For fifty-plus minutes Interim Leader of the Liberal Party, Bob Rae, addressed the Liberal caucus plus defeated candidates in the May 2 election today.
He declared, "not on my watch" will Harper do to the Liberal leader what they did to both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, through exaggerated character assassination 'that had nothing to do with reality. He also told his audience, plus any who listened across the country through the streaming on liberal.ca, that he agreed with "every word" of a critique from Murray Todd, defeated candidate in the Kamloops riding of B.C. that the party needs to be tough-minded, mobile, nimble, quick-witted and establish standards so that it becomes accountable and where there are consequences for all.
Rae urged the party to develop active effective riding associations, to recognize that the members and the supporters are those who matter, not the leader's office and the party executive.
Pointing to the Conservatives active call centre, operating as we speak, identifying donors, issues and potential voters, funded by a group of at least 100 donors, Rae noted that politics has changed over the last decade. "We cannot start the day the election is declared; we have to start now, to knock on doors, to listen to the riding and to become a full active instrument in all 308 ridings.
Declaring both unemployment and pollution the greatest enemies of economic progress, Rae indicated that, to the Conservative "bumper sticker" of "cuts, cuts, cuts" the Liberals respond, "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs"...
People must come first, in a Liberal agenda, according to the Interim Leader and while he agrees with fiscal discipline, he also cites the need for growth and prosperity, for example, through infrastructure projects.
Agreeing with the "sonny days" (a phrase from Laurier's political thesaurus) of the last week following the death of Jack Layton as a positive approach to governing, he notes, "Civility is not lying down and accepting things we don't agree with.
While he notes that Harper received barely 29% of the votes of all eligible voters, and that Canada has not gone through a massive transformation into becoming Tea Party members, he warns Harper, "Pride goes before a fall" and notes, somewhat ironically, that Liberals know something about that principle themselves, having grown too proud in their political past.
Referring to the non-existent divide between the environment and the economy, Rae declared, to a strong round of applause, "I am proud to belong to a caucus in which Stephane Dion is a member." (The reference seemed to be that a green plank in Liberal policy is a 'given' under Rae.)
In terms of raising money, Rae noted,"Our passion will produce the money necessary!" And, somewhat sardonically, mentioned that 'families are not always easy to join,' we are not asking people to join our family, but rather "we are asking Canadians to join our movement for change, for innovation, for inclusivity.
With respect to the talk of merger with the New Democrats, Rae indicated on CBC's Power and Politics today, "That is not my focus; I can't stop people from talking about what they want to talk about, and I have not noticed much interest in that idea from the other party, but I have a job to bring the party to election readiness in the next two years, and we'll let the chips fall where they may after that"..(in response to Evan Solomon's probe into the potential of a Rae permanent leadership bid).
In conclusion, Raw invoked the words of Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of his political heroes, in two phrases:
1) "Follow my white plume"...a humorous and self-deprecating note about the white hair of both men and
2) our cry must be, "Canada Last, Canada First, Canada Always!"
Of course, that brought the crowd of approximately 150 to their feet in the last of several standing ovations.