So, this article by Time Harper in the Toronto Star caught my eye: “Why is Bob Rae on the outside looking in at the new government?” It seems that, according to Liberal insiders, “this rather awkward dance is merely a matter of finding the right fit [and, while] “there have been discussions … no promises or offers have been made and Rae is certainly not campaigning for a job.“
I am certainly not a Bob Rae cheerleader, but I think that, as Tim Harper puts it, “after the Michael Ignatieff debacle” he (Mr Rae) took on the thankless task of rebuilding the party so that Prime Minister Trudeau would have something that could be transformed into a winner and one would think that the Liberals would want to reward him for that.
I, personally, have only met Mr Rae, briefly, once or twice, but I found him to be a pleasant, exceptionally intelligent, and all round rather nice fellow, and I think he would do credit to Canada in any major diplomatic post.
On two grounds, age and language, I think he is disqualified from being considered for the post of Governor General.
But it raises a larger question: how do we recycle high office holders?
Just think about …
… some were good prime ministers, others were undistinguished; some served long, other only briefly; some went back into business, Prime Minister Harper is still serving as a MP; Liberal Prime Minister Chrétien recycled Conservative Prime Minister Campbell into a (fairly plum) diplomatic post and Prime Minister Mulroney recycled Prime Minister Clark into a very senior post in his cabinet; but, by and large, we do not, it seems to make, make especially good public use of retired senior politicians.
The Brits used to find places in the House of Lords for their former prime ministers, and many served as chancellors of that country’s great universities and in public societies. President George W Bush tried to make us of his father and Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in quasi-diplomatic missions and in selected “good causes,” too …
… but the relentless, destructive partisanship of US politics, which I fear has infected our politics, too, has made it difficult for former presidents to “rise above” the fray.
I understand the need, for many politicians, to get out and earn a good living for a while … we do not, really, pay our political leaders (prime minister and ministers) anything like enough and the pensions are not that good when you consider the nature of the job.
Anyway, I hope Prime Minister Trudeau does find something useful for Bob Rae … he served his party well and he could serve Canada well, again, if he is properly recycled.
I said I hold no brief for Bob Rae, but, as I have very often said in Army.ca, I do have considerable respect, some affection and, indeed, real hope for the Liberal Party of Canada, and I am, and all Canadians should be, grateful to Mr Rae for rescuing it from the political ashes.
I want the Liberal party to succeed because I do not share the affection that some hold for a UK (or increasingly American) style Left <> Right split. The problem, as I see it, is that the right party, which I would naturally favour, will inevitably get old, tired, stale even corrupt and will need to be replaced ~ throw the rascals out, etc ~ and then an economically destructive left wing party will get a chance to govern. My preferred model is one in which a centre right/right of centre party contends, regularly, with a centre left/left of centre party …
… and the real hard left and left and right and hard right parties act as safety valves for the moderates who constitute the 70% or so of us who are in the middle.
As I have said in this blog, I think we Conservatives should look to a 1950s Liberal as our model for good, sound, moderate government. The Conservative Party of Canada’s goal should be in Gordon Robertson’s words, to provide Canadian with “consistently good, financially responsible, trouble-free government.” Our party should be known for fiscal prudence, resolute integrity and respect for all Canadians.
I believe (just hope?) that once the Liberals get over the “shiny pony” thing and reconsider the value of sunny ways and unicorns they, too, will want to do something similar, albeit, being left of centre, with less care about good economics. But, essentially, for the long haul, I think a Liberal <> Conservative political condominium will serve Canada better than any other model.