Bob Rae's parting wisdom for MPs: No more scripted remarks in House
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:59AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:56PM EDT
Political veteran Bob Rae announced Wednesday he is giving up his seat as a Liberal MP in the House of Commons to focus on his work as a lawyer and mediator on First Nations issues.
“You don’t choose politics, politics chooses you,” Rae told Power Play on Wednesday.
Rae’s political career has spanned 35 years and two parties, serving at the provincial and federal level.
The 64-year-old said his decision was an emotional one, but he is not giving up politics -- rather, he is giving up being a member of Parliament.
“I have found public life quite wonderful and irreplaceable in terms of the friendships you make,” he said.
Upon announcing his resignation in Ottawa earlier on Wednesday, Rae said he was not able to fully focus on his work with the Matawa Tribal Council in northern Ontario as their negotiator with the Ontario government while sitting as an MP.
"This is not about money, this is about time. I have not been paid for my work in the north and to me this is about time and how can I effectively serve the interests of the people I've been asked to serve and stay on as an MP and it simply wasn't possible.
“It's been a very difficult decision and you might have heard from the caucus, an emotional one."
The Toronto Centre MP announced his decision one day after MPs voted to adjourn Parliament for their summer break.
Rae said he’s leaving the House of Commons when the tone of debate is at a definite low point.
“What’s different today is this is a planned toxicity. This is a deliberate strategy to create a toxic environment,” he said.
Rae said during question period, MPs are providing short answers followed by “a long, personal tirade.”
“What happens then is everybody gets into the game, nobody’s fingers are completely clean,” he said.
Rae said there is nothing spontaneous about exchanges between MPs, which he described as “totally organized poison.”
“You see it in the U.S…and it’s terrible for politics,” he said. “It is designed to supress interest. It’s designed to promote hostility in politics.”
His parting advice to fellow MPs is to bring the practice of heavy scripting in the House of Commons to an end.
“I encourage everyone to throw the paper away,” he said. “Don’t read the notes, you don’t need the notes. If you make mistakes the first few times, it doesn’t matter.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he was sad that Rae had made the decision to leave, saying he would miss his advice and support in the House of Commons and had hoped to have him "at his side" if the Liberals form a government in the future.
"I'm not letting him go far. He will continue to be a valued friend and ally and resource to all Liberals in this country," Trudeau said.
Rae took the reins of the Liberal Party of Canada after Michael Ignatieff stepped down in 2011. Rae handed leadership responsibilities to Trudeau after the party's leadership race was decided in April.
Rae was the NDP premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995, and has been voted into office 10 times, in federal and provincial elections.
He ran for the leadership of the federal Liberals in 2008, but withdrew from the race after it became clear Ignatieff had the support needed to win the contest.
Rae said Wednesday he would not be returning to provincial politics and would not be running as a candidate for mayor of Toronto.