Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has confirmed that he will not seek the party’s permanent leadership.
He shared the news with reporters at the conclusion of his party’s weekly caucus meeting. “I feel great about this decision,” he said.
The 63-year-old politician emphasized that he is not retiring. “I feel great, my health is good,” he said. “I still have a lot of fire in me.”
As Aaron Wherry has reported, Rae has been back and forth on this before, of course:
May 19, 2011. Bob Rae is giving up on his dream of leading the Liberal Party, offering instead to act as interim leader and taking on a rump caucus with diminished resources and a huge rebuilding task ahead. The Toronto Centre MP sent out a letter to the caucus Thursday, saying he would seek the interim leadership and agreeing to forfeit a run for the permanent party leadership.
May 25, 2011. Mr. Rae told reporters he had pledged not to run for the permanent leadership in writing. “This is a job that needs to be done now … this is just my chance to serve,” Mr. Rae said. “I think there will be a broader chance for renewal in the search for a new leader in a year and a half (or) two years, and I think it’s important for the party to look very much to a new generation of leadership. And I’m sure that will happen.”
May 25, 2011. The national board of the Liberal Party set ground rules for the interim leadership, which limited the number of candidates. Those interested in the job had to be bilingual and agree not to run as permanent leader or to pursue any merger talks with the NDP. Rae, who had made it clear he only wanted to be interim leader if it lasts longer than a “summer job,” said he accepts the conditions and had also given his word to his wife that he’s only taking the interim job.
May 25, 2011. But he’s adamant his job is only part-time and said it is important for the party to seek a new generation of leaders. ”What I told caucus is that there is a higher power over me than (party president) Alf Apps and that’s my wife Arlene. We made a pact. I’m doing this interim job and that’s the job I’m doing.”
November 10, 2011. As for Rae’s part in becoming the new leader now that Michael Ignatieff has stepped down? “It won’t be me,” he said, to which the atmosphere in the room became heavy. “I’m not going to run for leadership.”
January 8, 2012. In an interview on The West Block Sunday morning, host Tom Clark asked the Liberal leader whether he would consider “ever seeking the position of permanent party leader.” Rae answered only referring to the current rules, saying, “The party executive made a decision with respect to the appointment of the interim leader… I’ll continue to respect the rules.”
January 15, 2012. “What I’ve said clearly all along is that an interim leader, if they decided that they were going to seek the permanent leadership of the party, would naturally … have to step down from that role if they ever reached that decision,” Crawley told reporters about an hour after being named new president at the party’s biennial convention in Ottawa. “However, any decision with respect to the rules and the selection of the leader of the party will be made by the executive of the party over the next few months.” Rae said he “completely” accepts Crawley’s position, however, he still won’t say whether he’ll run in the 2013 leadership race.
April 15, 2012. Whether Rae will be at the helm of the party remains past 2013, when a new leader will be elected, is uncertain, even to him. “The party is going to have to decide what the rules are and if they say they’re going to take the limitation on the interim leader than, obviously, I’ve got a decision to make. Arlene and I will make that decision once the party’s made up its mind,” he said in the one-on-one interview. “There’s going to be a contest for the leadership. It’s not going to be a coronation for the leadership. It’s going to be a very competitive, open race. I’m just waiting to hear whether or not I’m allowed to participate in it.”
Keep watch on Maclean’s for news as it develops.