Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bob Rae Vindicated by Obama…and Harper???

I’m convinced many Conservative Party members were hoping for a drawn out battle for leadership of the Liberal Party. I’m equally convinced that many Tories were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of Bob Rae being the eventual winner, convinced they could tar and feather him for his time at the helm of Canada’s most populous province.

Bob Rae was Ontario’s Premier during the recession of the early 90s. At the time it was called the worst recession since the Great Depression…Sound familiar? Rae was crucified for racking up massive deficits during his early tenure as Ontario’s senior elected official.

The NDP in Ontario lost a lot of its traditional labour support during this time when Rae introduced the “Social Contract”. Rae's NDP government re-opened collective bargaining agreements with public sector unions, and in an austerity measure forced workers to take un-paid days off, often referred to as “Rae Days”.

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My how times have changed. Faced once again with ‘the worst recession since the Great Depression’ it is now the Conservative Party advocating massive deficit spending. While some fear the prospect of unemployment, many are heralding the words from Barack Obama’s inaugural address wherein he extols the virtues of those willing to cut back their hours.

“It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours”.

The recipe for confronting a troubled economy? Massive government spending and workers willing to accept less so that the pain is a shared burden. It’s a recipe Bob Rae was using almost 20 years ago, and we emerged from that recession into an era of almost unprecedented growth.

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