Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bob Rae argued strongly against election of Michael Ignatieff as Liberal leader by caucus in email to supporters before quitting race

Bob Rae has suddenly dropped out of the federal Liberal leadership race - but not before sending an impassioned email to Liberal Party supporters on Sunday urging them to block the coronation of Michael Ignatieff, calling it the "wrong thing for our Party."

I have obtained that email, which is reproduced in full below.

Rae is to hold a news conference today at 1 p.m. Eastern time to announce his decision, which is now being widely reported.

Rae's email to supporters Sunday argues strongly for "a one-member-one-vote democratic leadership selection" before the resumption of Parliament on January 26, 2009.

Addressing Liberal Party members directly, Rae says: "To take away your chance to choose the person who leads you… it just doesn’t seem right.

Rae urges members to contact party executive members and their MP in order to "put a stop to this hasty, ill-considered idea before it goes any further."

The email argues that large parts of the country would have no voice in selecting a new leader in a caucus vote because they have no Liberal MPs. And Rae even says that a caucus selection would cut out from a vote the unelected Liberal “long-serving Senators who have given so much for our Party. That doesn’t seem right either.”

Here is the full text of Bob Rae’s letter to Liberal Party supporters:

“As you know, our Leader Mr. Dion is stepping down, and Mr.Leblanc is exiting the leadership race. I want to thank both of them for their contributions, past present and future.

In light of the opportunity to defeat the Harper government and replace it with a new government of national economic unity, it is clearly now time to bring the leadership selection process to an earlier resolution. We need our new permanent leader in place by the time the House returns to debate the Conservative budget on January 26th, 2009.

This obviously means we need a different selection process from the one that was put in place to lead us to a Convention in May. Press reports have some suggesting that the entire leadership process should be replaced with a single, secret vote to be held in a closed meeting of the 76 MPs, next week. I think this is the wrong thing for our Party.

The party Executive is working on a viable, timely, cost-effective and constitutional means of enabling a one-member-one-vote democratic leadership selection. This can be in place swiftly, and you can make your voice heard in the selection of your Leader. I believe that ordinary Liberal volunteers must have a direct say in choosing the new Leader. That’s the only way to go.

You are the volunteers who make this Party a living force in the life of our country. Without you, there is no Liberal Party. You give your time, your talent, your financial support, and ask for nothing in return except the chance to contribute. To take away your chance to choose the person who leads you… it just doesn’t seem right.

As well, there are real questions about representation that we need to keep in mind. A simple vote of the Commons caucus would leave significant portions of our country’s diversity silent in the selection of our Leader. Because our caucus is concentrated in major urban centres, almost no rural ridings would be represented. Literally two Liberals between North Bay, Ontario and Vancouver, BC would have a vote in the MPs-only process.
Most of francophone Quebec outside of Montreal would go unheard from. Defeated candidates would be disenfranchised. So would the party executive that you have put in place. So would our youth, women and aboriginals – who are under-represented in the Commons caucus. So would our long-serving Senators, whohave given so much for our Party. That doesn’t seem right either.

Finally, there’s the question of what this kind of vote would mean for our party’s ability to grow. We have a chance to welcome Canadians into our political family. We need more of them to join us – especially in the places where our support has been declining. I favour a 308 riding strategy, not a 76-person vote. I have spoken out for using our race as a chance to grow this party; a closed caucus vote would take it in the opposite direction.

Let’s urge everyone in a position to influence this to put a stop to this hasty, ill-considered idea before it goes any further. I urge you to contact your nearest Liberal Member of Parliament, and any of the following, to let them know how you feel about this attempt to take away your vote:

Party President Doug Ferguson: X@liberal.ca

Commons Caucus Chair Anthony Rota: X@parl.gc.ca

Please get involved with my campaign. Do whatever you can.Every little bit helps. Together we can have an open leadership process, defeat the Harper government and give Canadians the government they need to deal with the economic crisis.

Please let me know what you think.

Please help our campaign financially.



Anonymous said...

As an NDP supporter, I'm pretty happy about how this is all shaping up:

Harper finally exposes his true colours to Canadians, and thanks to the GG's decision to support him in suspending Parliament, the buck's now squarely on his desk for all the damage done and he can no longer cast himself as the patriotic underdog.

The Liberals meanwhile show their true colours by moving to the right, appointing Iggie, and screwing Rae and "the Coalition".

The only one who comes out looking honourable is Layton. And with Ignatieff's shift to the right to tackle Harper on his own turf, a big swath of the left opens up for Layton to take over. If he holds the course, he could gain a lot of ground in the next election and become a true force to be reckoned with in Canadian politics at a time when the fallout from disastrous right-wing economic policies could be shifting a lot more people to the centre left.

Anonymous said...

Rae is such a fool, it's stunning...

He pushes to subvert democratic tradition, but insists in "his" own party, that the grassroots have a say.

Tune in Friday. I'll make him feel like Ernie Terrell after Round 15...

Anonymous said...

I guess Bob Rae saw those poll results that placed him only 4% points ahead of Dion and 15% points behind Harper if an election was held today with him as Liberal leader. In contrast those same polls placed Ignatieff only 5% points behind Harper and 11% points ahead of Dion and 9% points ahead of Rae.

BC Mary said...

Bob Rae's 1:00 PM news conference explained all these points fully.

Nobody is suggesting that this type of special appointment will become the rule for electing party leaders in future.

But as Bob Rae explained very clearly, during this past week or so "a set of extraordinary circumstances" developed, which had to be dealt with swiftly ... Dion (a good man) fumbled the ball once too often and agreed to resign ... and there's no place in Liberal Party rules for any kind of electronic or mail-in voting. Hence the appointment after consensus.

I'd like to see the new Liberal Party of Canada mobilize itself now to face up to the urgent realities coming at them in January 2009.

Let's do as Bob Rae did: stow the fault-finding and support Ignatieff. Let's start studying the issues, signing up new members, seeking campaign donations, speaking up ...

because it's no longer about Bob, Mike, Stephane, or Dominic ... it's about Canada.


G West said...

Which democratic tradition is that Alex?

Anonymous said...

How on earth is that an argument against Ignateiff...it's an agrment for fairness and democacy. Two things Tories know nothing about

Anonymous said...

GWest, its the "democratic tradition" that allows him to ignore polling on issues like child poverty, Afghanistan, the environment but be polling's biggest booster when it agrees with him.

G West said...

Thanks anonymous 11:25. It needed to be cleared up.

I appreciate the help.

Budd Campbell said...

Bob Rae has jumped out of a race in which he was about to be completely and totally squished. Ignatieff reportedly had 55 of the 77 Grit MPs lined up, and was doing what the Globe called a "bulldozer" drive for the leadership.

Now that Rae is out of the headlines, can someone please find a way to get Ujjal Dosanjh out of the papers, and Hedy Fry and Joyce Murray too? I find these Federal Liberals tedious at best, and at worst, ... well, ... use your imagination.

The bulldozer drive does qualify as a complete victory of the Liberal Party's right wing over its tiny progressive component, a fact which should help to create increased room for Jack Layton. The next time someone like Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight tries to tout a slate of federal candidates based on the assumption that the Liberals and the NDP are very close on most social and economic issues, he's going to have a tougher time convincing people.

Well, at least I hope he will.

In that regard, it was quite amusing to see on Charlie's website a hotlink to the Federal Liberal site so people could effortlessly join the Liberal Party and help choose "the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada [who] will likely be the country's best bet for getting rid of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government."

There was even an article titled (Not Kidding!):

"Canadians let down Liberal Leader Stephane Dion"

There was another one containing a lot of coaching advice for Ignatieff on how to defend against Conservative attack commercials.

It's good to know that the "alternative" press is just as non partisan as the big commercial papers. But then, I guess the test of being an alternative paper in Vancouver is not whether it accepts ads promoting the next generation of leaky condos, but whether it also accepts ads from dildo shops.

FredSaid said...

Simply put, Layton wasn't thinking. I'm a long time NDP supporter and I was crushed. I am seriously having to re-consider who will garner my vote in the next round of elections.(Federal and Provincial)

Anonymous said...


You're brighter than to read the Straight, right?

Do you have a budgie? Any bird at all? Then you know what to do with the Straight.

Hope you're well.

Good comments.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully under Ignatieff the Liberals will stop recycling unelectable candidates like Bill Cunningham, Brenda Locke, Judy Higgenbottom etc. Each of these appointees have had more than their fair share of kicks at the can.

Budd Campbell said...


How's your day going?

I read the Straight only because it's there, and you have to.

Anonymous said...

Bob who? And why should I care? Canada is no longer a democratic country, but a country ruled by elites, who believe that the winner takes all and the public be damned.

What the last two weeks has shown the world is that Canadian politic ans are self serving, unpatriotic despots. who care little for the public good.

Nothing has changed and nothing will change with this ugly 19th century anomaly.

Anonymous said...


The election does not end when the votes are counted. In fact, it continues into the house when the new dynamics are put together. If those dynamics don't work, then we have another option to make those minority governments work. I think it is great to have something to fall back on when a politician and his party resort to lies and misinformation to get elected, or the prime minister has proved ineffective in his leadership.

What do you suggest to make a minority parliament work? We can't keep having elections!

Budd Campbell said...

A couple of quick questions for Bill Tieleman.

When will someone in the NDP high command finally show the party's membership and donors and volunteers the respect they deserve, and actually launch some kind of effective return fire at Rae and Dosanjh?

And what is the real, underlying reason for their complete unwillingness to do so to this point?