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Liberals: the natural grumbling party

BY PAUL WELLS


 

Bob Rae

From the Inkless emailbox (although actually it was solicited, because I got tipped off by supporters of another candidate and sent notes around to all the main Liberal leadership camps’ supporters tonight):

PRESS RELEASE

Rae Won’t Appear in Media-Lockout “Debate”

Nov. 15, 2008

Toronto — Liberal Leadership hopeful Bob Rae will not participate in the leadership candidate’s forum of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) on Sunday, November 16, 2008 unless the campaign of Michael Ignatieff agrees to withdraw its objection to opening the debate to the media, and its suggestion the debate be cancelled if a closed encounter cannot be agreed upon.

“It sends an awful signal to have a debate that is closed to the media, closed to Canadians”, said Rae, noting that the Conservatives have made closed no-media sessions a hallmark of their conventions under Stephen Harper.

The Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) is hosting a leadership candidates’ forum with Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff and Dominic Leblanc on Sunday afternoon. The party has indicated the debate will be closed to the media, but is prepared to open the debate to media if all campaigns agree. The Leblanc campaign agreed, but the Ignatieff campaign, as of 8:00 pm Saturday, refused to open the session to media.

“This isn’t a good note on which to start this race, and I think Liberals will be disappointed,” said Rae. The Rae campaign has called for a series of many open debates, starting immediately, across the country.

“I am calling for open debates, and I think we have to start right now, this weekend,” Rae said.

Rae has indicated he will run for the Liberal leadership, and will launch his campaign formally next week.

So that’s the Rae camp’s take.

I reached an Ignatieff supporter but, this late on a Saturday night, he wasn’t in the loop. My assumption is that if he were he’d say something like, this is a very preliminary, informal meeting, en famille, and two of the candidates haven’t even formally launched, so could we please have a chat among friends without inviting the cameras in just yet? Also probably the Ignatiefferati would probably point out that, as the Rae release itself acknowledges, the original decision was no-cameras, and it’s the others, not Ignatieff, who want to change horse in midstream. Or whatever the more apt metaphor would be.

Dominic LeBlanc supporters are saying this kind of instant ex nihilo Rae-Ig bickering is precisely why the party needs to look past them to…well, you know.

Inkless has no opinion, nor any real sense of surprise. It was so encouraging to see the period of mutual respect and accommodation among Liberal leadership contenders last fully one-third of the way through the announcements of the major candidacies. Sunday should be fun.


 

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