Rae said the real blame for any election trickery rests with the political culture Harper has created in the party. ”The prime minister has created a Nixonian culture,” Rae said. “This stuff doesn’t happen unless the boss lets it happen. He has allowed to seep into his party and into his organization a culture of attack and, frankly, a culture of deception and dirty tricks, where almost anything goes.” (Aaron Wherry, Mclean’s)
If we take Rae at face value, then his comment that “This stuff doesn’t happen unless the boss lets it happen” implies that Chretien must have known everything that various Liberal operatives were up to in what became known as the sponsorship scandal. Even with my tory leanings I somehow doubt that is true.
As for a culture of attacks, that has been a part of politics since time immemorial. In this country it is the attacks that get major news coverage with very little coverage of items where political parties agree with the government. As for Harper being the one to bring a “culture of attack” into politics, Rae had turned to provincial politics by 1984, admittedly for another party, and while he was absent from the House of Commons the Liberals introduced the “Rat Pack.” To their credit or discredit depending on your point of view, they were one of the most formidable attack machines Question Period has seen. In fact, we based a lot of our Question Period techniques on their tactics. The Rat Pack even took their antics outside of the chamber. Does Mr. Rae forget Shelia Copps (who just ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of the Liberal Party) crawling across a table to get at then Conservative cabinet minister Sinc Stevens?
Neither were the Liberals any slouch when it came to ministers attacking opposition members. They were always quick to play the racist card when Reform or Canadian Alliance members would question Alphonso Gagliano.
Again using Rae’s logic, Liberals lying about cutting the GST or breaking their promise several times to introduce a national child care program means that then Liberal leaders Jean Chretien and Paul Martin must have decided that their party and politicians in general could lie with impunity. Again I doubt that is true as there are often economic reasons why platform items get put aside, but it does make great political rhetoric to attack them for breaking a promise.
Rae’s attack probably served its purpose. It got him and the Liberals some media coverage which is always difficult for a third party to achieve. Unfortunately no one called him out on some of his assertions. The new civility in parliament is a wonderful thing to behold!