I am writing with a desk piled high with calls to return, e-mails to answer, and decisions to make. One step at a time.
The Liberal Party’s defeat on May 2nd was tough for all of us – supporters who gave their all, candidates, M.P.’s, so many wonderful people who’ve worked for the Liberal cause for years – and for some the emotions are still very raw.
They say that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan. My own sense is that we need to keep assessing what happened, what went right, what went wrong, lessons to be learned, without getting into the “blame game”. And then we need to take those lessons and move on, with good humour and good grace, to the days ahead.
Michael Ignatieff is a friend of mine and deserves our thanks for his strong devotion to the cause, as does Szuszana and his team. There is never shame in fighting and losing.
The Liberal Party is also a movement, a powerful sense deep in the fabric of Canadian life that we value diversity, freedom, a government that respects us and doesn’t take us for granted, a powerful commitment to a prosperity that is at once socially just and sustainable. We want our country to be at its best in the world, leading the way with our commitment to the same values abroad as we hold so dear at home.
We are facing a Conservative government that will over-read its mandate and an NDP opposition that will over-read its success. While the extent of our election defeat is there for all of us to see and analyse, there is no time for us to wring our hands in despair. We have to get to the task at hand.
If the caucus, the Party, and the thousands of volunteers throughout the country can be brought together in the common interest, we can succeed. If we can keep our eyes focused on the tasks ahead, we can succeed. If we remember how deeply Liberal values are appreciated across Canada, we can succeed.
Success will require change, it will require a willingness to stop some bad habits we’ve fallen into, and a deep commitment to humility and learning the “lessons of defeat”.
It can be done. And I can’t do it alone. We’re all builders and re-builders. In my discussions with Liberals from all walks of life and parts of the country my sense is we’re up to the challenge.
Bob Rae is a former member of Parliament and former premier of Ontario.