Rae says Harper is not “just the piano player in the brothel”

In a speech to caucus that was open to the media, Bob Rae excoriated Stephen Harper over the F-35 debacle. Really, really took him to task, especially seeing as the Harper government is one whose hallmark is centralised control. And it was that control that Rae zeroed in on as he put the blame for the debacle squarely on Harper’s shoulders.

Rae pointed to the “leaks” coming from PMO in advance of the Auditor General’s report. The “leaks,” which don’t happen by accident, said that nameless officials misled Harper and that he was “privately furious” and he was going to make sure that it never happened again.

Rae typified the PMO as “the most highly centralised and tightly controlled government in Canadian history.”

“You can’t get away with the fiction that a $10 billion dollar mistake in calculating the cost of the F-35 stealth fighter had nothing to do with the man in charge, with the man whose name and whose moniker is on every single publication of this government.”

Rae says that such denials might work for others, but not for Harper.

“He cannot now pretend that he was just the piano player in the brothel who didn’t have a clue as to what was going on upstairs.”

Rae charged Harper with misleading the public, putting out a misleading prospectus, false figures and false documents to the tune of billions of dollars. “Any company that did those things would fire the CEO and replace the board of directors. Police would be called in and the civil litigation would be huge.”

And given that Canada no longer has cabinet government, but Harper government, Rae says that Harper personally must wear the debacle and resign.

Rae also touched on the federal budget, given that he has not had a chance to speak in the House about it, and said that there they had five simple questions about the document.

“Does it make the country more prosperous?” Rae asked. “Does it ensure that the prosperity in the country is deeply shared? Does it improve our environmental and fiscal sustainability – is it a budget that points the way to genuine sustainability for the country? Does it improve our democracy and the quality of life in our federation? And finally, does it allow Canada to be at its best in the world?”

Not surprisingly, Rae answered no to each of those questions. He also mentioned that the only time “climate” is mentioned with in the budget is as a reference to the investment climate, which is important, but so is climate change.

Rae’s criticism wasn’t spared simply for Harper, but he had a few words for the NDP as well, whose “filibuster” on the budget speech was not grounded in sound tactics, but simply prevented others from speaking in his estimation, and that it denied 40 MPs from getting a chance to speak.

“The era of love and good feeling is clearly over inside the NDP,” Rae said. “It’s a new regime. We now live in a world where anger is apparently better than love, arrogance is now better than humility, and petulance is much stronger than respect.”

And he had one last shot at Thomas Mulcair.

“The way to beat Harper is not to become mini-Harper. It’s not a strategy that’s going to work, but it says a lot about the new NDP.”