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Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae gives an interview at his Parliament Hill office on Sept. 20, 2011. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae gives an interview at his Parliament Hill office on Sept. 20, 2011. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

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Bob Rae's message on mental health: 'Things can and do change' Add to ...

Bob Rae recalls the day nearly 40 years ago when he woke up with a “deep sense of anxiety and depression.”

He was 24 years old and for the “better part of a year” he suffered from a debilitating angst.

The Interim Liberal Leader is to receive the Public Service Award from the Mental Health Association Tuesday night in Toronto. Since he will instead be in the House of Commons for votes, his wife, Arlene Perly Rae, will deliver the speech for him.

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“At times I could scarcely get moving through the day, and found talking to anyone difficult,” he writes in a copy of the text made available to The Globe. “I was paralyzed by self doubt, cold sweats, and no reassurances of friends and family could convince me that I had much self worth or hope for the future.”

He recounts that some friends told him to “shake it off.” He notes that as well-meaning as that was, he was suffering from mental illness.

Eventually, the “talking cure” worked for him as did the support of friends and family. He was able to make some decisions that helped him – working in a housing and legal aid centre where he was able to help disadvantaged people. He also went to see “as many funny movies and shows as I possibly could.”

“Even today, my family are embarrassed by how quickly I am moved to tears, and how much I love to laugh, and laugh so hard I start to cry,” he writes.

Mr. Rae’s speech comes amid publicity surrounding the death of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old gay Ottawa teen who committed suicide last month.

The tragedy spurred comedian Rick Mercer to act. In his “rant” on the Rick Mercer Report last week, he encouraged gay adults – especially those who are public figures – to speak out publicly, arguing that gay kids need role models.

And just before Jamie Hubley’s suicide, Mr. Rae’s Liberals raised the need for a national suicide-prevention strategy in the Commons, demanding the Conservative government deal with the issue. In his speech, Mr. Rae writes that the debate was “an eye-opening experience” for all involved.

“Members came forward and shared their own experiences, there was no name-calling, partisan chippiness or the usual antics that go with a House debate. There was a sense we are all in this together.”

In an email to The Globe Tuesday morning, Mr. Rae said of his remarks: “I hope it helps someone out there who doesn't know things can and do change. That's my lived experience.”

Another NDP contender, another Tory attack

The Tory effort to paint NDP leadership hopefuls as puppets of big unions continues.

Peggy Nash is the latest target for the Conservative Party war room. The Toronto MP announced her candidacy on Friday, becoming the first woman to enter the race to replace the late Jack Layton.

In a memo circulated to MPs and supporters, the Tories say Ms. Nash is “a union boss who has deep union ties: Nash was a high-ranking official with the Canadian Autoworkers Union, working closely with several Canadian Autoworkers union presidents.”

And the Tories add: “In her 2009 bid to become NDP president, she was endorsed by fellow union boss Brian Topp.”

Mr. Topp is considered the frontrunner in the NDP race. He was the first contender to official throw his hat in the ring – and was immediately greeted with the type of attacks Tories employed so effectively against previous opposition leaders Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals.

A September memo characterized Mr. Topp as “union boss” with “deep union ties.” The Tories asked: “How could Brian Topp speak on behalf of all Canadians, when he is so tied to big union special interests?”

Rona Ambrose’s other job

When Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose isn’t stick handling $33-billion shipbuilding contracts, she’s working on policies around women’s issues in her other role as Minister for the Status of Women.

One Tuesday morning, she is holding a press conference to announce $198,750 for the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs to encourage women – especially aboriginal, low-income and immigrant women – to learn how to become decision-makers in their communities. This will be done through mentorship programs.

A pollster’s take on Halloween

Nik Nanos can’t just hand out candy. The president of Nanos Research simply couldn’t resist compiling some stats while handing out chocolate bars on Monday night.

“143 kids this Halloween up 18 from last year – flow rate for the last 30 min lower. Was a normal distribution,” he told his followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow on Twitter: @janetaber1

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