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Friday, May 19, 2006

Bob Rae youth event

Quick post tonight...

I just came back from a Bob Rae youth event. Held at the Bar Italia up on College Street, the meet-and-greet was well attended, with over seventy curious Young Liberals showing up to hear the man speak. No doubt, many of them went in supporting other candidates. Representatives from the Ignatieff and Kennedy camps were present, and I'm pleased to say they were very courteous and respectful. At the end of the day, we're all on the same team. I'm glad everyone seems to recognize that.

Bob showed up at around 6:30. He took a few minutes to mingle with the crowd before delivering a barn-burner of a speech (at least in my slightly biased opinion). Addressing his audience without notes, the former Premier spoke about how young people, in particular, are important in shaping Canada's position both at home and abroad. In addressing numerous issues, from Kelowna to Kyoto, from creating economic prosperity to maintaining peace in the world, Bob clearly demonstrated the depth and breadth of his public policy knowledge. An interesting point: He noted that he would not have supported Harper's motion on the Afghanistan mission. As described by Cherniak here, the motion was nothing more than a meaningless partisan sham whose passage raises a lot of questions, given the lack of details provided and the uncertainty surrounding mission's new meaning. Bob noted that as Liberals, we must be courageous enough to stand up to Harper and call him on these games. If we give in, we lose: it's that simple.

As I said, I may be biased, but I truly think many attendees, including those who are supporting other candidates, were impressed by his answers. I was told by several people that Bob is now their second choice. This, of course, is subjective. Still, it gives me a lot of hope. We are slowly (but surely) making inroads into the Young Liberal crowd. A tough crowd to win over, since many of them are already committed to other contenders. But things are clearly starting to move...

I left the event tonight feeling more comfortable than ever with my choice for Liberal leader. I honestly have no doubt about the man's abilities to get the job done. He can beat Harper. His passion for Canada is so obvious; his vision so convincing. Yes, he has a lot of "baggage." (How could I forget? People keep on reminding me, even tonight!) But to quote my colleague Greg McGillis (who's coordinating Bob's Eastern Ontario campaign), this "baggage" is really "luggage". Like Greg, I like Bob Rae's luggage, because it shows he has experience. It shows he's been somewhere. More importantly, it shows he knows where he is going. After all, isn't that what we're looking for in a leader?