‘The trouble with the populist narrative’


Bob Rae appeals to economics.

A premium is a tax, and payroll taxes discourage hiring. Make no mistake, payments to people who have no work is essential, and a hallmark of a decent society and an effective automatic stabilizer for the economy. But how we pay for them should be the subject of a serious debate. The Liberal Party is calling today for a freeze on employment insurance premiums, and a review of the tax into the future. The payroll tax increases planned by the Conservatives will put a new tax burden of 1.2 billion on businesses and workers just as the economy is slowing down. It is a very bad idea, and the Conservatives should change course.

We need to go further and address the income tax code itself. Like their other favourite statute, the Criminal Code, the Conservatives cannot resist tinkering with endless boutique tax credits and changes that respond to the flavour of the month politics that is now the hallmark of the political right. These credits are rarely refundable, which means that those who really need help don’t get it. Out of the roughly 25 million tax filers in Canada, eight million do not have enough income to pay taxes. Those are the people who need these tax credits the most and they are the ones who don’t even get to apply.


‘The trouble with the populist narrative’

  1. An excellent speech.

    It’s what every movement in history, including the recent ‘Occupy’ one, has been about.

    ‘Access to the system’.

    Cons and Dippers are populists, and that’s exactly what we don’t need at this moment in time.

    • “Cons and Dippers are populists.”

      That’s a ridiculous generalization. There are populist elements in every party including the Liberals, and there are populist elements in what Bob Rae is saying.

      • No,sorry…Cons and Dippers are both populist parties.

        Populism can be defined as an ideology,] political philosophy,[ or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares “the people” against “the elite”, and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social movements (a form of mobilization that is essentially devoid of theory).] It is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “political ideas and activities that are intended to represent ordinary people’s needs and wishes”] It can be understood as any political discourse that appeals to the general mass of the population, to the “people” as such, regardless of class distinctions and political partisanship: “a folksy appeal to the ‘average guy’ or some allegedly general will.”


        • Bob Rae is a populist.  Once in 08, when running against Ignatieff, Monsieur Rae said in a speech (or press conference) that he wanted the Liberal Party to become more populist.

          Still, he is doing a pretty damn good job with the ‘Interim’ leadership of the Libs.

          • Well that was in 08,  things have changed since then. Maybe it was a holdover from his time with the NDP.

        • How can you support the Occupy movement and yet claim that we don’t need populists in Ottawa? That seems like a pretty big contradiction.

          • I don’t ‘support’ the Occupiers….I just don’t dismiss them as hippies, or druggies or whatever because they’re not.

            It’s a serious matter when people start gathering in the streets and public squares and demanding change….and sneering at them won’t change that.

            Marie Antoinette tried it, and look where it got her.

          • But you are quite willing to dismiss NDP and Conservative voters. Because those voters (who make up the majority of Canadians) have quite clearly stated that they do want populists in Ottawa. In fact I’d argued that this alleged disregard for populism has really hurt the liberals in the past few elections (I say alleged because Rae’s actual speech has several paragraphs that sound quite populist).

          • @ad199f224cde7a18fc1cd1be77973bd7:disqus 

            Canada needs leadership, not populism. A plan, some vision…not bumpersticker slogans or boutique tax credits.

          • OriginalEmily1: (what’s the one for by the way?)

            I disagree, Canadians do not want self apointed elites, it’s why the Liberals have been steadly falling in recent times. And I would suggest that what your doing with the “bumbersticker” line is the same kind of sneering at the populist populace that you claim others are aiming at the Occupy movement.

          • @ad199f224cde7a18fc1cd1be77973bd7:disqus 

            ‘self-appointed elites’….boy now there’s a populist phrase if ever I heard one!

            How about qualified people who know what they’re doing?

            If you were having surgery wouldn’t you want an ‘elite surgeon?’

            If you’re flying somewhere, wouldn’t you want an ‘elite pilot?’

            Slogans are ‘bumperstickers’….and if political parties use slogans it’s an attempt to dumb down the topic so people only have to remember one simple phrase. And sadly it works.

            Probably 1 in a million Canadians read the ‘Green Shift’ which means about 34 people altogether….so they were given a slogan…’a tax on everything’ and bought it.

            Dion would have been better off saying ‘Go green and get rich’ instead of explaining it at length.

          • OriginalEmily1:

            Well my point about Liberal canadets being self apointed elites is not that they are not legitmately elected like every other mp but that they act like ‘elites’ even when they really should not.

            You use the example of the ‘elite surgeon’, if I was under that surgeon’s care I would expect that surgeon to be open about the procedure he was going to commit and would only go through with the procedure if I felt he had adequetly answered my concerns. He’s not really an elite, he’s just a doctor very good at his job, and paying him special deference could have unfortunate results for his patient and himself if turns out he’s not nearly as good as people expect.

            What I’m trying to say in a long winded way, is that a politician suceeds if he gains the trust of his constituents. In 2006 many of those constituents decided to vote conservative and instead of attempting to win back the support of these voters the Liberals have attacked Conservative and played on their own natural right to rule. That’s not to say that hte conservatives have not been on the attack for the past five years as well, but utlimately the LPC has been alienating voters and then when that fails the attack the validity of those voters to make the decesions that rejected them. That’s the action of a people who see themselves as natural elites. The fact that past elections do not match the Liberals perception of themselves just makes it all the more galling.

          • @ad199f224cde7a18fc1cd1be77973bd7:disqus 

            I don’t know of any ‘self-appointed’ elites.

            Or even ‘elites’

            ‘Elite’ isn’t a bad thing…it means ‘the best’…exactly what you’d want in a surgeon or pilot or anyone else with you life in his hands.

            In an emergency, it doesn’t matter what his personality is like or whether you’d want to have a beer with him…all that matters is his ability.

            Voters need to pick the best qualified people for the job…and not base it on how the person acts at a BBQ.

            The media started calling Libs the ‘natural ruling party’. I don’t recall Libs doing so.  The name makes sense though as Libs have been in power for most of our history. That’s because it’s a party of the center….and Canadians like the center.

            Even Preston Manning recognized this. He once said ‘Why did the Canadian cross the road?  To get to the center.’

          • OriginalEmily1:

            I think were approaching the term ‘elite’ differently. I don’t think that being a member of the elite means any degree of exellence if one suggets that Liberals are governing elites. I’m using the term more to depict a perception of representive democracy that suggests the representive is only responsible to his constieuncy during elections, and otherwise acts like a ruling aristocracy. Which does not mean that those in the aristocracy are at all more effective than the populace at deciding Canada’s fate.

          • @076563f5fd3f846732335a6517f10627:disqus 

            Well words have a specific meaning…they don’t mean whatever you just choose them to mean.



  2. Has Rae ever explained why he quit the socialist party and joined the fascists?

    I experience an enormous amount of cognitive dissonance when I have to read about Rae lecturing others about economics because left wing types don’t understand economics. Rae’s rhetoric might sound nice but, in reality, left wing policies bring enormous amounts of misery where ever they are implemented. 

    I wish there was a proper liberal party – like the one Canada had before Pearson/Trudeau turned the Libs into fascists – that believed Canadians were capable of taking care of their own affairs and don’t need technocrats to run their lives for them. There should be at least one party that protects Canadians from the lunatic Humanities’ grads in public service that we are subjected to now.

    • Well, I wish you’d learn to use Google.

    • “Has Rae ever explained why he quit the socialist party and joined the fascists?”

      He joined the Conservative Party?!?

      If Canada has a Fascist Party, it would be the CPC. Just sayin’.

    • Also, to be fair, it would seem none of the major parties really get economics. The Conservatives are just as bad as the Liberals, if not as bad as the NDP.

      • Quite. 

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