The Bob Rae government has been almost universally panned as a disaster and is being held up as an example of the dangers of electing a NDP government. The problem with this narrative is that it ignores several key facts. These omissions are likely deliberate, after all why let the truth get in the way of an useful narrative
For starters the NDP assumed office at the onset of one of the worst recessions to hit this country since the depression.No novice government no matter it's stripes was going to do well under that circumstance and would be doomed as the NDP was to run deficits. If you are going to criticize the Rae NDP for their deficits then you must also perhaps display even greater scorn for the Peterson Liberals and the Harris Conservatives who both rang up deficits in good times.
Before even being sworn in they came under withering attack from the media, business and financial sectors, plus of course their political opponents. Once in office they initially tried to stay true to their principals strengthening labour laws and introducing a stimulus package. Well this just further enraged the old guard who immediately stepped up their assault,labeling them as not only incompetent but also dangerous lunatics.
One couldn't open a newspaper, turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with this message after all everyone knows it is insane to try to spend your way out of a recession. The sane approach was to slash programs and layoff thousands of workers.
Now let's flash forward to present day Canada for a moment.Faced with a deep recession similar to the one Rae faced, the very same entities that so thoroughly destroyed the Rae government for trying to spend us out of a recession this time demanded a huge stimulus package lest the entire economy would collapse. In fact the Conservative government which boasts several members from that Harris regime has spent tens of millions of taxpayers money bragging about spending us out of a recession.So again if you are going to criticize the NDP for introducing stimulus in a time of recession then you must hold the Harper government in even greater contempt, for at least the NDP has been consistant on the issue,Harper not so much.
In closing I would contend that they never stood a chance and not just because of the recession and their inexperience,but because there were simply too many powerful forces lined up against them. The neo-liberals were at the time in their ascendancy and were feeling their oats and the last thing the neo-liberals wanted was some damn socialists getting in their way no matter how much damage they caused, in fact the more the better. The neo-liberals have succeeded til now,will they continue to win the day? We will find out Monday evening.