There is a lot being made about the Liberal party’s interim leader Bob Rae (MP for Toronto Centre) using his current post to “leverage” his chances against other leadership contenders if he decides to run for the permanent position. I have no way of knowing if Rae intends to run for the permanent job, of course, but prominent Liberals like Warren Kinsella and Gerard Kennedy certainly seem concerned that he will.
Kinsella says flat out, “Bob Rae is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada,” in his blog and in his Toronto Sun column. And Gerard Kennedy seems concerned enough to give voice to his fear of unequal treatment in an interview with The Hill Times.
Others among the 3,000 Liberals at the Ottawa Convention Centre this weekend apparently have picked up on a growing sense that Rae will find a way to wiggle out of his promise not to seek the full-time leader’s job.
Heaven help the Liberal Party of Canada if it does allow Rae to compete. For one thing, he’s likely to win and continue internal divisions that have badly hurt the Grits since the Chrétien-Martin feud began the great divide in the party.
For another, Rae’s too old to be leader of a party that needs to reinvent itself. Ronald Reagan won the U.S. presidency at about the age Rae will be when next he gets a chance to be prime minister. But Rae’s no Ronald Reagan. And, lets face it, Reagan’s age was a negative factor during his final years in office.
As I see it, should Bob Rae become leader of federal Liberal party, and I think he well might, he’ll lead that party into a merger with the NDP—it may take a while, but it will happen—and the far left of the NDP will form a new social democratic party. The left will still be divided, but far less so.
The upheaval will keep the Grits-NDP out of office in the next election, and by the one after that Bob Rae really will be too old to continue as leader.