Volume 92, Issue 47

Thursday, November 26, 1998

permanent cast


Rae offers view of politics

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae presented himself last night at Western as "a recovering politican."

A guest of the University Canadian Club of Western Ontario, Rae spoke to a dinner crowd of 60 guests in the Great Hall on his evolving views of politics in Canada. The former leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario is currently on tour promoting his new book, The Three Questions: Prosperity and the Public Good and outlined many of the key points presented in the text.

No longer constrained by party politics, Rae admitted his views have matured over the course of his political career and are no longer always accepted by his own political party.

"Being the father of three teenagers has given me first hand knowledge of the differences in society," he said, raising a few laughs from the crowd.

Polarization of wealth was the major focus of Rae's speech, as he continually hammered on the need to reverse a trend currently pushing the poor further into need and at the same time allowing the rich to become more wealthy.

Rae attacked the policies of current federal and provincial governments for this serious social issue.

"Since [Canadian Finance Minister Paul] Martin's federal budget of 1995 and [Ontario Premier Mike] Harris' economic changes in the fall of '95, inequality has grown substantially."

Rae commented from personal experience that while his own income tax has been cut, he has witnessed a rise in the number of individuals stopping him on the street requesting change from his pockets.

"The level of support has fallen away," he said.

The answer to these and other issues Rae brought forward is not something that is black and white. "I am not a revolutionary," Rae commented.

Instead, Rae suggested working with the global economy the nation is currently residing within. "We need to focus on what we can do with the tools that we have," Rae said. He added the areas which need the most attention are welfare, health and education.

In addition to being a writer, Rae is currently a partner at the Canadian International law firm of Goodman, Phillips and Vineberg. Rae insisted his career in the political realm has ended and will be participating in the next provincial election only as an interested voter.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998