Rae calls for change in Liberal party.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae came to Babel today. For an older—and obviously wiser—guy, he was in quite good form as he ended an extensive road trip talking to Liberals in Quebec and Ontario. And listening to him, you had to admit that he is a good stump speaker. More than a hundred Liberal Party supporters came out to hear him over a barbeque lunch and they were not disappointed. They applauded enthusiastically when he called on them to help make fundamental changes in their political party.

Mr. Rae’s main theme for the day was the thirtieth anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which took place on April 17. He drew a distinction between the Conservative view of the Charter and the Liberal view. He pointed out that a decisive and forward thinking concept such as the Charter could never happen under a government lead by Stephen Harper.

But the challenge he brought to his audience was to enter into a party debate on what we believe in as Liberals. He pointed out that we cannot have the basic change that is so desperately needed without understanding it and agreeing to it.

Mr. Rae told the Liberals that two of the basic rights that Canadians have come to expect are the right to healthcare and access to education.  He believes that Canadians are more than willing to have a fair taxation system to pay for these rights. This is contrary to the direction of the Conservative government and he expects that this will be the fighting ground in the next federal election.

When talking about how to defeat the Conservatives, he even got into thoughts on changing how we vote. His personal choice is a system of preferential voting. This is something that needs to be discussed in greater detail at another time but it is the willingness of the party to discuss it that is part of reforming the party and working for change.

An area of change that is needed was one that might have surprised some in the audience was in an answer to a question from one of the younger audience members. The question was about the Governor General being head of state in Canada. Mr. Rae explained that the Queen is Head of State but the Governor General serves as her representative in a largely ceremonial role. A rare exception to the ceremonial role is the power of the Governor General to refuse to allow the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament without a viable reason. For this reason, Mr. Rae said it makes no sense to have the Prime Minister selecting the Governor General. He would prefer to have the Governor General elected by Parliament or at least the provincial legislatures.

The interim leader talked off the cuff to his audience for more than an hour and handled all the questions with enthusiasm and humour. Congratulations to the Barrie Federal Liberal Association. It was a most successful event.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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