Monday, 15 September 2008

Bob Rae shunning the poor?

I've heard from several different sources today that Liberal MP Bob Rae is trying to give the brush off to an all-candidates meeting planned for St. Jamestown on October 8th. Rae says his schedule is too busy and his people are trying to get the St. Jamestown planning committee to go to all candidates meetings planned in upper middle class Cabbagetown or upper class Rosedale instead!

I guess I can see Bob's point. After all, the issues facing the poor and working poor living in substandard bedbug and cockroach infested housing in St. Jamestown are so much like those of the superrich in Rosedale or the white collar professionals of Cabbagetown.

St. Jamestown, with over 20,000 residents, is the most densely populated neighbourhood in Canada yet Rae obviously thinks better off neighbourhoods are more important. If signs in past elections are any indication, there is a stronger Liberal vote in St. Jamestown than in either of its neighbouring communities but they just aren't Bob's preferred class of voter.

Perhaps Rae doesn't want to explain why the Liberals never got around to implementing the housing strategy they promised in the Red Book in 1993? Perhaps he has nothing to offer working poor people in the way of fixing the EI system that Paul Martin broke, or restoring the federal transfers to provincial social programs that the Liberals cut? Rae certainly can't talk about childcare now that the Dion Liberals have abandoned the child care plan that was offered last election in favour of expanding Stephen Harper's child care rebate - which they mocked last time - and which will do nothing to actually provide quality, inexpensive, public and non-profit care.

In his recent screed against the NDP Bob complains that the NDP campaign in this past spring's by-election consisted of "class warfare and character assassination. Corporations bad, wealth creation bad, rich guys vs poor guys, "working families" vs what? Lazy families?"

The real problem is not that the NDP is preaching "class warfare" (if only) but that Bob Rae doesn't want to talk about class issues and would rather pretend they don't exist. Let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Let Canada languish with an unacceptable rate of child poverty. Let our affordable housing stock decay and public housing shrink. Sure, Rae's riding of Toronto Centre may have one of the largest populations of urban poor in Canada - but don't expect him to talk to them.

Rae doesn't have a class analysis now and he didn't have one when he claimed to be a New Democrat. Now he's showing that he has no class either.
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