Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae will not seek the permanent position
Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
OTTAWA - Bob Rae said no Wednesday to ever becoming leader of the bedraggled Liberal party, setting in motion weeks of speculation about who wants to fill the vacancy.
Rae, who turns 64 in August, said neither age nor health were factors in his decision - just ask his wife Arlene, he said - and that by not tossing his cap into a full-fledged race he was keeping a promise made last year not to run.
"There will be commentary on the age question. I think it's bull----. Who cares? If you're fit and ready to go, it doesn't matter."
He didn't specifically mention external pressure from key Liberals - especially heavyweights in Ontario - who opposed his potential candidacy because of the baggage he carries as the former NDP premier of the province and the need for a new face on a party in the midst of a herculean rebuilding effort.
"I've reached the conclusion that the way in which I can serve my party best is by not running for the
permanent leadership and by simply sticking to the task which I agreed to do at the beginning of my mandate," he said.
"It hasn't been an easy decision. I've had lots of encouragement and lots of people who wanted me to think otherwise."
The caucus picked Rae to lead in the short term after Michael Ignatieff quit following a disastrous election in May 2011 when the party won 34 seats and for the first time in its history didn't form government or official Opposition.
Rae said he will stand on the sidelines during the leadership race and won't endorse or help any candidates.
Several names have been floated as candidates for the full-time leadership, including MPs Justin Trudeau, Marc Garneau, David McGuinty and Dominic LeBlanc, but none has announced their intentions.
The party's executive was set to decide Wednesday night whether Rae could run and select a date for a convention next spring.
The timing of the start of a race and how much money wannabes can spend will be determined later this summer.