Bob Rae is interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and former premier of Ontario.
Can you swim?
Well enough to weather a storm. I wouldn't say I was a powerful swimmer.
Have you ever swum a lake?
I've swum across points in a lake. Big Rideau Lake, just south of Ottawa, below Smith's Falls.
Where did you learn to swim?
That's where I learned to swim when I was five years old. We had a family cottage.
Who taught you?
Who taught your kids?
They learned to swim in the same lake, taught by my wife and I.
Is swimming a pleasure or a life skill - or both?
My feeling about swimming was very affected by a guy in my life and in my family's life named Dan Offord. He was a wonderful man, a child psychologist, and he ran, for many years, a camp near Ottawa - the Christie Lake Kids camp. That was a camp for poor kids. The only qualification for getting in was you didn't have any money. He was an adviser to me when I was premier. My kids became counsellors at that camp.
He used to say, you take a kid [of]5, 6, 7, self esteem is a real issue. You take them from being afraid of the water and over a two-week period to learn how to swim. It's given them self-esteem and a sense of achievement.
To learn to swim was one of my earliest achievements. Learning to walk, you don't remember, you're too young. Learning how to swim was part of getting into the swim of life, if you like.
Is the ability to swim intrinsically Canadian?
Partly, yeah. It's tied up with our connection to lakes and water and "sea to sea."
Drownings have spiked in recent years. It is thought that contributing to those numbers are new Canadians from places where swimming is a far less common ability. How should we address that?
I think learning how to swim can be an important part of school curriculum. It helps you learn and give you pleasure your whole life.
If you look at things that we older Canadians take for granted, going to camp experiences connecting us with the great North. If it's not of our own life, it's certainly part of our imagination. Newer Canadians are not necessarily able to take advantage of that. That's something we have to work on as a country, making things accessible to people.
How do we address that in times of restraint? Pools are closing, swim programs being cut …
We are going in the wrong direction in terms of a lot of things. Recreation, access to physical education, need for camps for kids in the summer. We are diminishing opportunities for a lot of people, not increasing them. Swimming is a hugely important life skill.
Do you know how to shout 'cannonball!' in Urdu or Mandarin?
I must say I don't. Do you?
You speak Italian. How is it said in Italian?
I think the expression is the same word. I don't know. I don't even know how to say it in French …