...white males, more specifically.
Just to show that I do not unhealthily obsess over the candidacy of Michael Ignatieff, I thought I would spread the love around a bit and write something about the other Lib Leadership hopeful who, were he elected, would doom the party to years on the opposition benches. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bob Rae.
Now, with Bob Rae I do not have any of the harsh visceral reaction that I do with Iggy. In fact, I think Rae is an admirable man who has served Canada well over the years. Not only that, in the campaign thus far he has come across as the best public speaker of the 11 hopefuls. He is mildly charismatic, although he doesn't have much competition in this respect, and his views represent what I see to be the mainstream of the Liberal Party (and therefore, lets face it, of Canadian opinion).
However, Bob Rae just has too much political baggage left over from when he ran the NDP Government in Ontario (between 1990 and 1995). And in this instance I'm not even thinking of his economic policies, which certainly did not cause (and probably did not really even do much to exacerbate) the downturn in the early part of the decade. I'm talking of the incredibly stupid stuff his government did in the name of affirmative action. Wiki describes the NDP policies of the time as follows:
The Rae government's affirmative action measures also proved controversial. In 1993, the government sought to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aboriginals and disabled persons working in the public sector. It was assumed by many that this would be accomplished through preferential hiring methods. This policy would likely not have occasioned much controversy in a better economic climate; in the middle of a recession, however, many unemployed workers regarded it as threatening. There is little doubt that the controversy cost the NDP support among its working-class base. In addition, there were some on the political left who believed the NDP was unduly emphasizing ethnicity ahead of class considerations.
This passage refers obliquely to a number to different episodes, the most infamous of which is the time (November 1993) that the Ontario Public Service ran an ad for a "director of information technology" (a senior management position) in its JobMart. The ad went as follows:
The competition [for this position] is limited to the following employment equity designated groups: aboriginal peoples, francophones, persons with disabilities, racial minorities and women.
In other words, no White, English speaking males were eligible for the position (unless, I suppose, they were missing an arm or a leg or something).
Now, I had forgotten this episode until I finally got around to reading Neil Bissoondath's Selling Illusions, his mostly crappy screed against Canadian Multi-Culturalism. But now I can remember back to those days. I remember reading about this on the subway and wondering What the Hell are these People Thinking? I had actually voted for Bob Rae, and yes it is possible to admire the underlying intention--making the Ontario public service more representative of Ontarions as a whole. However, doing it by imposing quotas on white males, and imposing them in full view of the greater public, was to fly right off the top of the political stupidometre. As one of the few Rae supporters in my office at the time, I could only throw my hands up in the air when called upon to defend this policy.
And there are Tories out there who have longer memories than me, and this is only one of the most egregious examples of an act of political stupidity committed by the Bob Rae government in the name of some aspect of Political Correctness. I don't think he will ever be able to walk away from this stuff.
Incidentally, just why the Bob Rae's NDP administration was sooo incompetent is an interesting story in itself. There are many theories, but my favorite is that, previous to 1990, the NDPers ran absolute no-hopers in alot of Ontario ridings: people like my philosophy teacher at York, who ran under the banner out in 905 just so the party could have someone on the ballot. During the 1990 election he was terrified he might actually win (he didn't). So when Rae came to power, there was very little in the way of talent in the ranks of his backbenchers.