Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae held a press conference this morning, ostensibly to announce his summer tour, but apparently to remind the assembled press that the Liberal Party is not dead. In fact, when they put out a fundraising call for $100,000 to revamp their website, they raised $150,000 in just four days. Party memberships are up, and they are in a good financial position, with no net debt after the election – rather, they raised more money in this past election than they did in all three previous ones combined.
“Despite all the chit-chat about how tough everything is, the fact of the matter is the party is meeting what I call the ‘market test.’ We have raised money successfully and we are raising money successfully, and we are financially in good shape,” Rae said.
Rae assured reporters that a summer tour is normal in when you’re a party leader, and this isn’t just carrying on any kind of gimmick that his predecessors may have started.
Asked if he’d be attending any other Pride festivities around the country as part of his outreach, Rae said this:
“Could well be – obviously the schedule is still very open, and I’m open to any invitations that I receive. I think that certainly the Pride parade in Toronto last week was a great moment for celebration, and it’s interesting for me to see how the Pride movement and the Pride parades in my own city have really evolved into a celebration of diversity and a celebration of the city itself. It’s quite a remarkable event, and I very much enjoyed attending it and would be happy to do so in other places and other venues.”
As for his thoughts on the fact that there were no federal Conservatives at the Toronto parade?
“It’s their loss, really. I think it’s too bad that they weren’t there. There may not have been officials, but I’m sure there were actually people who had voted Conservative who were either watching or marching in the parade. That day will come. I think the evolution of the debate in the country over sexual diversity and recognition of people’s identities is one of the most remarkable transformations in my lifetime. I don’t think any of us could have imagined how much progress we’ve made and how open and, frankly, relaxed people now are about issues that were extremely difficult for people and for politicians to handle.
“For me it’s quite funny. If you think about it, and I can see some people in the audience who can identify with this – if you told me 30 years ago that a politician would be criticized for not attending a Pride parade, I think we would all be quite surprised. To me, that’s a great tribute to our country, and a great tribute to how our attitudes have changed, and I think it’s a wonderful transformation. And I think it’s one of the great changes that I’ve seen in my political lifetime, which as you know is only half over. [laughs]”
Over the remainder of the press conference, topics ranged from the Statistics Canada report on voting trends (bigger issues at play that require more than a gimmicky answer), the filibuster that was (there was no public interest being served by one party giving 20-minute presentations), various rounds of questions of how this summer tour is different than others (we’re not in a pre-election campaign this time around, mainly), and how Jason Kenney is not the only game in town when it comes to ethnic outreach.