If there are divisions in Liberal ranks over the Liberal-NDP Coalition, they were not evident today at a meeting addressed by Bob Rae. The mostly Liberal gathering listened closely and applauded enthusiastically as Rae explained the historic agreement between the Liberals and the NDP to bring Harper down.
After speaking for about 20 minutes, Rae answered questions for another hour. At the end of the meeting, he was joined by Winnipeg North MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who was welcomed warmly by the crowd.
Here is an audio clip of Bob Rae’s speech in Winnipeg.
And here are excerpts from his remarks.
We have to have the courage of our convictions, my friends. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by these slogans and these epithets and this irresponsibility of our Prime Minister. We will stand our ground.
I regret that the fact of the Governor General giving the extra seven weeks to Mr. Harper . . . but we respect the decisions that were made and all I can tell you is that it just gives us more time to get it right. It gives us more time to sit down and talk to Canadians and explain to Canadians about why this common approach works best – why it makes more sense that one-man government.
Mr. Harper has succeeded in delaying the end of his government, but he has not succeeded in achieving what he thinks he can achieve. He has no more confidence and trust today than he had last week. And believe me, he will have no more on January 26 or Jan. 27 than he has today.
Do you want to live in a country where the Prime Minister basically says that people who don’t agree with him or who try to do things differently are traitors? Are unfaithful to their country? Or lack patriotism? And I’m telling you – there is only one way to stop that. There’s only one way to stop it.
You cannot appease this man. He cannot be appeased. There is no point pretending that we can. It is essential for all of us understand.
Mr. Harper, we are serious. We are serious with what we did. We are serious with where we need to go. And we are determined to get there. And we are going to get there together. We’re going to get there in a positive, creative way, We’re going to get there in a way that responds to the needs of Canadians. We’re going to present them with a government that is disciplined, that is focused, that is united and that understands what has to be done.
We cannot afford division. We cannot afford to be disunited. We have to stay together, stay disciplined and stay focused. And stay respectful of one another. And even respectful of those people who say “I don’t think this is the right thing to do.” . . . You say, “Fine. Let’s have that discussion.”
What I know in my bones is that if we give Mr. Harper a vote of confidence at the end of January we will live to regret it for the rest of our lives. The democratic rights that he wanted to take away with that economic statement – they are the steps that he wanted to take. Those steps are not gone. Those steps are simply sleeping. There is nothing in what he has said since then that leads me to believe that he is sorry, has changed his mind, or is prepared to mend his ways. And everyone here knows that those are the steps that are crucial before you can say you are on the road to recovery. This guy ain’t on the road to recovery; he’s on the road to ruin. And I don’t think we should be following him down that road.