Volume 92, Issue 49

Tuesday, December 1, 1998



Rae questions government methods

Gazette Staff

There are a million questions to which most individuals are still looking for the answer. Former Ontario premier Bob Rae, however, has only three of great importance.

"If I am not for myself, then who is for me? If I am only for myself, then what am I? If not now, when?"

Out of politics since 1995, Rae has considered the answers and now presents his socialist perspective in his new book, The Three Questions: Prosperity and the Public Good.

"The three questions have been the basis for a lot of speeches I have given over the years," Rae says. "It goes back to the early '80s. The first speech I gave on the constitution in the House of Commons when [Pierre] Trudeau was prime minister had the three questions as a theme."

Rae says the questions, which make up the basic structure for his book, were coined by Rabbi Hillel and were discovered while attending synagogue with his Jewish wife in his early political days.

Using the inquiries for the basic structure of the book, Rae delves into a political world with a fresh look unrestrained by party policy. He discusses the need for the individual and the community to adapt to a corporate world. One issue of great importance to the author is the issue of polarization of wages – the rich getting richer and the poor becoming poorer.

"The economy and globalization are naturally creating certain jobs that pay extremely well and creating jobs which don't pay very well," Rae says. "I think there is a phenomenon of the disappearing middle. That is a big issue for government."

The answer, Rae states, is to work with current global politics and economy to help direct it instead of wasting time fighting against the current. For this to happen though, Rae admits it is going to require a completely fresh look at Canadian government.

"Government has to change. There is no question of that," Rae explains. "[It] has to become more flexible and respond more quickly to events and concerns people have. Government has to respond to all three questions."

The book also covers topics such as education, welfare and powers of the corporate elite and was compiled from a series of lectures Rae has given over the past two years at Canadian universities, including Western.

The former premier credits the open atmosphere of educational institutions for assistance in the molding of the topics he presented in the book.

"It gave me a chance to respond to a lot of issues and get some ideas circulating," he says, adding it was not his intention to write an academic paper, but rather an open viewpoint which could be understood by the general population.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998