Rae declines to seek Liberal leadership

Bob Rae won’t seek the permanent leadership of the federal Liberals because it’s better for the party, the interim leader said Wednesday, setting the stage for a wide-open race and renewing the tantalizing prospect of a Justin Trudeau candidacy.

OTTAWA — Bob Rae won’t seek the permanent leadership of the federal Liberals because it’s better for the party, the interim leader said Wednesday, setting the stage for a wide-open race and renewing the tantalizing prospect of a Justin Trudeau candidacy.

Sources say the 63-year-old Rae — who will stay on as interim leader until a replacement is chosen — decided against running primarily because, despite popularity among caucus members, he still doesn’t have the broad support of the party’s rank and file.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision, (but) it’s a decision I feel very comfortable with,” Rae said after breaking the news to his caucus behind closed doors.

“For me, it was a question of deciding how I could do the best thing for the health of the Liberal party.”

Rae’s controversial tenure as Ontario NDP premier from 1990 to 1995 — marred by a deep recession, broken campaign promises and acrimonious relations with the province’s unions — has long been cited as one of the principal reasons he struggled to win Liberal support.

But he scoffed at the suggestion that at 63 — a decade older than Prime Minister Stephen Harper — he’s too old for the job.

“My hair is white, but I still have a lot of fire,” he said.

And while Rae insisted publicly that family considerations weren’t a factor in the decision — he said he’s always been able to successfully balance his personal and political life — sources say the idea of being permanent leader wasn’t a popular one on the home front.

Rae has led the Liberals since the aftermath of the 2011 election, which gave the Conservatives a majority and stripped the party of its status as official Opposition. The disastrous showing cost Michael Ignatieff his own seat and prompted him to quit as leader.

Rae’s announcement comes on the same day Liberal party brass were expected to unveil changes to the rules that would have allowed him to enter the race. He originally took the interim job on the understanding that he wouldn’t seek the job permanently.

His decision leaves the leadership up for grabs, with a number of potential candidates considering their chances.

It may also put pressure on Trudeau, whose storied family legacy has many looking to him as the saviour of the party. But Trudeau has said repeatedly he isn’t interested, preferring to spend more time with his young family.

MPs Marc Garneau of Quebec, David McGuinty of Ontario, Joyce Murray of British Columbia and Dominic LeBlanc of New Brunswick are said to be thinking about running.

There is another tier of defeated MPs and failed leadership contenders who could enter the race, including Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, Mark Holland, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Martin Cauchon, Deborah Coyne and David Bertschi.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

The City of Red Deer is still repaying two loans for the Sorensen Station parkade, which are contributing to a deficit in the parking revenue fund. (Advocate staff)
Dropping parking revenues in Red Deer are creating a deficit

Loan repayments for the cost of the parkade are straining reserves

Red Deer firefighters look for coloured tags on downtown fire hydrants to determine water pressure levels before connecting their hoses to fight blazes, such as this fire at a low-income housing complex last summer. (Advocate file photo.)
Tagged fire hydrants are some of the City of Red Deer’s new innovations

New ideas are being generated to improve services or save money: general-manager

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
‘Fake’ police officers demand money, Red Deer RCMP warn of scam

Red Deer RCMP are warning the public of a concerning incident where… Continue reading

The sit-down area of Red Deer's Tim Hortons at 3020 22nd St. was closed to the public on Monday because of an "evolving health situation." The drive-through was open and remained busy.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer Tim Hortons restaurant dining room closed due to “evolving health situation”

Drive-through at Tim Hortons in southeast Red Deer remained open

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after 2 p.m. sunset on November 24, 2020. The territory plans to start lifting a two-week lockdown due to COVID-19 spread on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Nunavut to start lifting its two-week lockdown as COVID-19 cases recover

Nunavut to start lifting its two-week lockdown as COVID-19 cases recover

A health care worker direct a person to use a swab for a self administered test at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fairgrounds at Tamiami Park, on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 in Miami. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)
Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving

Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House job

Trump science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House job

Maimonides Geriatric Centre is shown in Montreal, Sunday, November 29, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ottawa extends rules and restrictions for travellers amid rising COVID-19 case counts

Ottawa extends rules and restrictions for travellers amid rising COVID-19 case counts

A restricted gun licence holder holds a AR-15 at his home in Langley, B.C. on May 1, 2020. Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, stricter storage provisions and steps to control handguns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Get on with promised gun-control measures, advocates urge Trudeau government

Get on with promised gun-control measures, advocates urge Trudeau government

Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. Dr. Alexander Westphal is expected to testify that Alek Minassian is not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder. Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
Alek Minassian was never aggressive to others before van attack, court hears

Alek Minassian was never aggressive to others before van attack, court hears

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says in fall update

Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says in fall update

Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts his mask back on during the daily briefing at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday November 24, 2020. Ford says he wants a clear delivery date for the province's share of COVID-19 vaccines, stressing that "the clock is ticking" when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa must be more transparent regarding COVID-19 vaccine rollout: expert

Ottawa must be more transparent regarding COVID-19 vaccine rollout: expert

Most Read