Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lessons Learned By Bob Rae and Moving Forward

On another Blog run by an old friend of mine, commentor Ted states: I have met Bob and think him a decent, hardworking man. But does it strike you as a bit odd how many times he says he's learned from his many mistakes, and how few times (read none) he tells us what those mistakes were and what he learned from them?
Ted | 11.21.08 - 9:37 am | #


My question is: What economies have Michael Ignatieff and Dominic Leblanc ever run Ted. For that matter what economic experience do they have at all?

Well, here's you anwer Ted.

Bob Rae: How to deal with the economic crisis
Posted: November 22, 2008, 9:00 AM
by Kelly McParland Full Comment, Canadian politics


Political parties have a critical role to play in helping Canadians get through tough economic times. Today, Canadians are rightly preoccupied with jobs, retirement savings and pensions, housing prices and with making ends meet. They expect intelligent action from their government.

The challenges are numerous. There are concerns that capital and credit markets have seized up, arresting growth in its tracks. A perfect storm has hit Canada’s manufacturing industries — sharply falling demand from the United States coupled with fierce competition from increasingly productive Asian economies. Our gyrating currency affects what we buy and what we sell.

Almost 20 years ago, as the premier of Ontario during its worst recession since the Great Depression, I gained essential experience in governing when the economy recedes. Today, under similar circumstances, I would do some things very differently. So here, for the record, are some lessons learned from a life of public service.

• First, it is essential to understand the speed with which a falling economy can cause the revenues of a government to evaporate. Just four weeks ago, Stephen Harper assured Canadians that our economy was fundamentally strong. Today, he openly speaks to a potential deficit.

• Second, times of crisis teach us the importance of being practical, and show us the folly of ideologies and theories. It was a great British Conservative, Edmund Burke, who reminded us that “there is nothing more dangerous than to govern in the name of a theory.” Mr. Harper is finally taking note. It’s about time.

• Third, prosperity is earned, it matters and it can never be taken for granted.

• Fourth, fiscal discipline matters and is linked to prosperity.

• Fifth, governments must ensure everyone benefits from the opportunities prosperity creates.

• Sixth, you can’t go it alone. It doesn’t matter how independently secure you might think you are — global recessions are humbling to the mighty. So it’s essential to get all sorts of people to the table. You need other governments, industry, labour and community leaders, so as to build consensus for tough action.


To begin to solve our current challenges, we need to apply those lessons learned, and take the right steps.

Our first step must be to support the key industries that drive the Canadian economy. In the car industry, for example, the federal government has to negotiate assistance packages. We must, or we risk losing much more than we already have. In return, Ottawa must insist on a profound commitment from the industry to make it sustainable, green and competitive going forward.

Step two is for the federal government, the provinces and our communities to substantively invest in infrastructure. Crumbling infrastructure adversely affects business productivity and our quality of life. A major infrastructure build will help maintain jobs and demand in the economy, while making us more productive.

Step three is to help working families manage through this time. We need to make sure that employment insurance is there for Canadians when they need it. Similarly, we should change the Canada Student Loan program to ensure that all students have access to low-interest support. We need to work harder with the provinces and business on opportunities for aboriginal training and aboriginal business, and on programs to ensure the speedy integration of new Canadians into our society with their skills recognized.

These three steps must all be carried out within a framework of fiscal responsibility and prudence.

Beyond today, we have to address the deeper concern that Canadians have about the future. To do this, we need to completely rethink our tax system. We need to make it more efficient, simpler and more geared toward productivity, savings, entrepreneurship and wealth creation. If we have real tax reform, we can have personal income-tax cuts that are fair and progressive, that reward savings and boost productivity.

Our corporate taxes must also be competitive. The economies that thrive are the ones that include competitive tax rates, and an environment that encourages venture capital to create prosperity. Energy efficiency, and a greener economy and society have to remain critical objectives.

We also need to recognize the rise of a permanent and powerful economic centre of gravity in Western Canada. The oil and gas industry has been driving the Canadian economy in recent years. It is vibrant, entrepreneurial and innovative. We are lucky to have it. The challenge for this sector and for governments is to make the resource sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible.

The crisis affecting Canada is global, and Canada must be a leader in finding solutions. We should play a role in redesigning the international economic architecture to help prevent such a crisis from happening again.

A new era of prosperity will not come about on its own. It will take focus and resolve. Canada will once again have to find its voice, a voice that transcends borders and barriers and speaks to a common interest far stronger than what divides us. That voice must express this point at home and abroad, that things will get better, that opportunities can come again.
National Post

Bob Rae is MP for Toronto Centre, and a candidate to lead the Liberal Party of Canada.

10 comments:

penlan said...

James I emailed you yesterday, as you said, but haven't heard back from you. I sent it via the email addy in your "view my complete profile" section. Just wondering if you got it?

James Curran said...

Nope. No gots. ducky7777@yahoo.com

penlan said...

Just re:sent the email James. Please let me know if you get it or not.

Thanks.

sjw said...

Fifth, governments must ensure everyone benefits from the opportunities prosperity creates.

It pains to see this oft repeated (but never acted upon) social initiative rolled out and presented as something to be actually considered by a prospective government when in fact it is but grand illusion sited by someone who wishes to lead. As someone leaning towards supporting Bob Rae a large part of me just wants to shout, "Just the facts, Bob. Just the facts". The poor and disadvantaged of our nation have heard all this type rhetoric before and it impresses not.

James Curran said...

I think you know Bob will act on his social agenda.

sjw said...

Well, no, I don't actually know that. I'd like to believe that a politician such as Bob Rae with his socially conscientious history would indeed be the great emancipator of the poor, but I think you and I know better than that. Granted his background is the prime motivator for my preferring him over Ignatieff, but I certainly remain skeptical of his ability to deliver the progressive societal goods.

Ted said...

Thanks for quoting me, Jim.

That doesn't going anywhere near my question. It is still not clear what he thinks his mistakes were and what he has learned from them. Or why he attacked Chretien and Martin then and in 2006 for the way they eliminated the deficit. Or what he would do about deficits today. I asked him in 2006 if he would ever allow a deficit; his answer then "there is no appetite for deficits right now". So does he think there is now or not? How will he pay for these economic stimula he refers to? If we are in deficits would he cut spending and if so what? or would he pass deficits on to future governments and taxpaying Canadians.

For certain, Iggy and LeBlanc absolutely have to answer these same questions. The difference is that we have seen once before how Rae would answer those questions so it is incumbent on him to come forward and explain how and what he would do things differently, not simply tell us that he would.

Ted said...

And as for his article, I like Rae as you know, but I cannot for the life of me understand why he would let Harper off the hook on two of his biggest blunders that give Canadians the most concern and the Liberals their biggest opportunity.

"• First, it is essential to understand the speed with which a falling economy can cause the revenues of a government to evaporate. Just four weeks ago, Stephen Harper assured Canadians that our economy was fundamentally strong. Today, he openly speaks to a potential deficit."

Are you kidding me? Harper outright lied about this. Dion was right as you point out in your very next post. Deficit Steve knew this was coming, as his budget chief shows us, and it was caused by his own fiscal imprudence as his budget chief also shows us.

Why let Harper off the hook for this? This was foreseen months and months ago both from analysist of the economy and Harper's own reccord spending combined with tax cuts imprudence. This wasn't just a quick drop in the economy. And nor was the recession in the 1990s.

"• Second, times of crisis teach us the importance of being practical, and show us the folly of ideologies and theories. It was a great British Conservative, Edmund Burke, who reminded us that “there is nothing more dangerous than to govern in the name of a theory.” Mr. Harper is finally taking note. It’s about time."

Again, praise for Harper is going to help the Liberals? How can we go out and claim he's a right wing ideologue if we say "he gets it"?

The article as a general statement, while saying nothing anyone doesn't know about and hasn't been saying for months, is still an encouraging step to see. In 2006, Bob really avoided giving us any detailed sense of what kinds of priorities and policies and actions we'd see under him. So it is encouraging to see him a bit more engaged and not just relying on his name, and following in Michael's footsteps with some detail, however minimial this is. ;-)

James Curran said...

Ted, I hope you're not reading the same article as me. He is clearly mocking Harper in the article I'm reading.

Can't wait for Michael to defend his carbon shift. Looking forward to it.

Ted said...

Clearly he is mocking Harper in some parts. But he is clearly letting him off on the most important and effective weapon we have against Harper: the economy.

Not to compare Rae to Pallin in any way whatsoever, but choosing Rae would be like McCain choosing Pallin. McCain's greatest weapon in the election was his experience vs. Obama's lack of experience. Instead, he couldn't make that argument stick because he chose someone with even less experience than Obama.

Similarly, we lose the ability to hold Harper to account for gross mismanagement of our finances and of our economy by picking Rae. And instead of fighting that impression, Rae let's him off the hook and says its ok.

Holy perpetual Conservative minority, Batman!

Instead of giving Harper an easy time on the most important issue, Rae should tell us what he thinks he did wrong last time, why he was wrong to attack Chretien and Martin then, and what he would do differently this time. That way he can show us all that he won't be like Flaherty, making the same mistakes all over again, but that he has in fact actually learned from his mistakes. He does that and Liberals, Ontarians and Canadians will start easily start to forgive him for his years as Premier.

Instead we get 'Harper's not so bad on the finances because it's hard don't you know' and 'just trust that I learned something because I said I did'.