Wednesday, September 20, 2006
How Does Rae Say Sorry?
If Rae becomes Liberal leader, how does he deal with that whole running-most-disastrous-postwar-Ontario-government thing?
I sympathize with the man. When the Pithlord was young and foolish, the Pithlord was young and foolish. It is only an accident of opportunity that I did not destroy all job growth in Canada's industrial heartland for five years, or wreck its public finances. I know I would have. Still, I was in my twenties and working on a philosophy degree, and he was the actual premier, and I have a blog and he wants to lead the country. So the question is a bit more urgent for the toothy one.
The easiest mistake to admit was to lose control of public sector spending. Rae already knows that this was a bad idea. The reasons for it -- high expectations from left-wing interest groups and public sector unions already dangerously coddled by Peterson and a fight with the Bank of Canada over aggregate demand which the provincial government could not win -- he could even talk about.
More difficult would be the sheer political correctness of the NDP regime. The most dangerous manifestation was the Employment Equity Act. It was impossible to follow. At least existing employees were grandfathered, which meant that Ontario companies could stay in compliance with the law only by not hiring anyone. Which is what they did. Harris just repealed the thing when he first met the legislature, leading right there to an employment boom. Pay Equity was almost as bad.
The Rae government had a commendable concern for the environment, combined with an uncommendable lack of pragmatism about how to fulfill its objectives. Rae is now interested in price mechanisms to reduce congestion and pollution, but these are politically tricky, of course.
Tony Blair's political life is about to end, but clearly he and Brown did discover something of a formula for progressive domestic policy. Rae knows this -- now he has to communicate it to the public.