The National Post reported earlier this week that “Bob Rae is expected to step down as interim Liberal leader in late June to make a run for the party’s permanent leadership.” While Rae has not officially announced this, it is, apparently, a generally held belief within Liberal party circles.
Having shown his skills on the floor of parliament for the better part of a year, Rae will be a credible candidate for the job of permanent leader, notwithstanding the fact his party rebuffed his attempt to become leader in 2006 in favour Stéphane Dion and again in 2008 after Dion resigned.
True, in 2008 Rae stepped aside to give Michael Ignatieff a clear shot at the top job, but it could, at least in part, be seen as a rejection of Rae. He was clearly vying for the party’s leadership when the inner circle chose Ignatieff.
When Bob Rae took the job as interim leader last year, he did agree not to pursue the permanent leadership, but the party executive is expected to release him from that pledge very soon.
Some in the party, however, will be put off by what they will see as Rae going back on his word. It is unlikely, though, that those folks would have supported him anyway: core Rae supporters want his as leader, political warts and all; core dissenters want no part of the ex-New Democrat as leader regardless of how skilled he might be.
I’m not a fan of Rae’s, but then I don’t have a vote. He just could be, though, the best bet to head up the third-place party for the next five years or so.
If Rae could pilot the Grits through a strong showing in the next general election, the talent pool for leader could become a lot deeper as prospects would see some chance of becoming prime minister.
Until then, the Grits will have to settle for a group of potential candidates who have shown no exceptional ability, at least, so far as I can see.
The three who have shown the most interest in the job are, Rae himself, Marc Garneau and David McGuinty. Other potential candidates include Dominic Leblanc and Justin Trudeau. I’ve also seen mentioned Mark Holland, Martha Hall Findlay, Gerard Kennedy and Martin Cauchon, but except, possibly, for Cauchon, I don’t see any of these as front runners.
In fact, I don’t see any of these individuals beating Rae in an open race.