Bob Rae and the Liberal leadership dance

by Aaron Wherry

May 19, 2011Bob 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, 2011Mr. 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, 2011The 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, 2011But 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, 2011As 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, 2012In 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, 2012Whether 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.”




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Bob Rae and the Liberal leadership dance

  1. Did I read the April 15, 2012, comment correctly? Rae says it will be a competitive race if he is allowed to participate? How can he not see how unfair such a race will be if he as interim leader is allowed to participate? If I were any of the other leadership contenders I would be fuming right now.

    •  He just said it will be a competitive race (not contingent upon him being or not being in it). However, I agree that it doesn’t make sense for him (having been interim leader for such a long time) to be in it.

  2. Rae.. kindly tell me you’re not an idiot.

    You made your choice when you became an interim leader, and quite publicly and clearly said you wouldn’t be running for the permanent leadership.

    Turn around on that now, and you’ll basically be jumping into the well that the CPC has poisoned. It doesn’t matter if you’d be an excellent leader. It doesn’t matter if you can justify what happened in Ontario, or whether Harper’s done the same or worse than you. It doesn’t even matter if the CPC claim that all Liberal politicians are out there just for power isn’t true.

    All that matters is that those waters are already poisoned, and if you jump into them now you’re simply giving the CPC and NDP the soundbyte they need to nail the coffin shut.

    • I’d like to think our standards of leadership are a bit higher than whether or not one fits a preconceived Conservative narrative. 

      • Whether they are or not is irrelevant to what the voter at large thinks and will be voting on. Perhaps if the public at large had not been left with the impression the CPC worked so hard to ingrain into people some ten years ago. Part of the reason the “in it for himself” meme worked so well is that it rang echos of adscam, and the party did basically nothing to counter it through mass media. And that’s the last impression that the public at large has been left with. If Rae were to turn around now on his widely publicized statement of not going to be the permanent leader, that impression would just be reinforced.. whether he’s the right guy for the party policy-wise is irrelevant. He’s the wrong guy public image wise.

        This kind of thinking reminds me of an epitaph I heard of once:

        Here Lies the body of Simon MacKay
        Who always knew when he had right of way.
        And he was right, dead right, as he walked along.
        But he’s still just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

    • I called it!  On May 19, 2011, to be precise.

  3. If Bob Rae becomes permanent leader, I’ll vote for the Pirate Party.

  4. Devil’s Dictionary, Liar ~ A lawyer with a roving commission.

  5. William Blake ~ The Liar

    Deceiver, dissembler
    Your trousers are alight
    From what pole or gallows
    Shall they dangle in the night?

    When I asked of your career
    Why did you have to kick my rear
    With that stinking lie of thine
    Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

    When you asked to borrow my stallion
    To visit a nearby-moored galleon
    How could I ever know that you
    Intended only to turn him into glue?

  6. Clearly the LPC has a dilemma on its hands, probably no one expected Rae to be as effective as he has been up till now. OTOH he would be foolish to rule himself out if the party votes to change the rules, particularly as there has been no obvious alternative; [ Trudeau has ruled himself out, probably wisely for a while] who else is realistic? Dalton is commited to his job and frankly he’s the only liberal i can think of with the neccessary political weight – and he has baggage of his own.
    The rules for voting in a LPC leadership race have changed now; it is entirely possible someone from outside the party will step forward, but why would you want to this far out and with a rebuilding party that is being squeezed left and right?
    It made sense for Rae to continue to be ambiguous over his intentions while there was no ndp leader, i’m not sure it does anymore. 

    •  Rae isn’t being ‘effective’…..he’s just ‘there’

    • “….  probably no one expected Rae to be as effective as he has been up till now.”

      I don’t know about that – personally, Rae has been about as effective as I expected. And lets not forget that Rae has been in competition with Turmel – possibly the worst leader in living memory – and Rae can’t get Libs above 20%. 

      Surely Rae’s time as interim leader will make Libs think again about what a colossus Rae is and maybe they should look for a leader that electorate doesn’t loathe. 

      Harris Decima ~ April 2012

      “Nationally, the Conservatives hold a two point lead. The Conservatives stand at 34%, to 32% for the NDP, 19% for the Liberals, 8% for the Greens, and 6% for the BQ.”

      • Effective or not [ the consensus opinion has been he has been up till now] he’s also popular in Quebec, which is essential for any kind of liberal comeback.I suspect you may be right though, the LPC is probably looking at it’s cards right now and trying to decide whether to double down or open a new pack. But it’s still a problem since avoiding obssessing over leadership is a habit the party has been trying to kick – they’d like to focus on rebulding the the wreck the party has become. That said, i think they should either confirm Rae is only interim leader and that’s all he’ll ever be[ my preference] or start shopping for a new leader to lead them out of the wilderness and into the promised land on the goverment benches.You have to admit the LPC looks out of place as opposition party.
          

  7. I think the focus on what Rae did or did not say is WAAYYY overblown.

     I think the media is being willfully ignorant on this issue to try and create a narrative (sadly all they are doing is creating canon fodder for the Conservatives who will undoubtedly run around screaming unfair, and behind the anonymous internet names?…..look forward to massive amounts of outraged people who would vote for the Liberals if ONLY Rae wasn’t running…..LOL) 

    When he took the interim job the rules did not allow him to run for leader. IF the executive decides to change the rules THEN he will be eligible to run if he wishes but he MUST step down as interim leader in advance of that so he can run……..a whole lotta ifs in that…..but there is nothing new here and nothing that we didn’t understand to be true from day one.

    YES, I know that the Harper team would prefer it if Rae didn’t run…..the attack ads made it clear, BUT I don’t think it serves anyone’s interests to have the media ragging the puck for Harper on this, there is zero wrong with anything anyone is doing or saying here on the Liberals team

    • “When he took the interim job the rules did not allow him to run for leader. IF the executive decides to change the rules THEN he will be eligible to run.”

      What is your source for that? Please provide a link.

      From Jeff Jedras’s blog entry, Sept 8, 2011:
      “there is no rule that prevents interim Liberal leader Bob Rae from deciding to seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.”

      I take Jedras at his word. He’s a respected Liberal blogger, and I know he researched the Liberal party rules.

      I think the media is right to call out Rae on his past musings. It’s not willful ignorance at all. The ignorance seems to come from people who don’t understand the Liberal party rules, that DON’T state that an interim leader is ineligible to run for leader of the Liberals.

    • Because a promise is meant to be broken as soon as you think you can get away with it?

      As Mike514 points out, there was never a rule. There was only Mr Rae’s personal word – which, apparently, means nothing. Obviously he (and other Liberals) haven’t absorbed the lessons of the last election.

  8. Somebody he trusts, John Rae?, must, in the spirit of friendship and affection, get Bob aside and say he is in danger of becoming as laughingstock.
    And moreover, he is too old to be the guy that brings the Liberals back into contention. It’s over.

  9. Sigh…  My name is Scott Yee, and “I am trying” to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. If you can over look the fact that I want to create an Earth Government, (some people think I am nuts for trying) I do believe most people will like most of my ideas. (I hope) http://www.ScottYee.org

    • No. We don’t. 

    • There’s going to be a lot of torture and execution in your new world, Mr. Yee, judging from Article 9 of your online manifesto.

      You sure you’re running for the right party?

    • Well, I’m glad to see someone taking the threat of an asteroid collision seriously. All these politicians talk about is the economy, health care, education, yada yada… Won’t somebody think of the asteroids?

  10. I hope Bob Rae takes on the full-time job. He is the most decent and respectable of the three in the current lot.

  11. All the confusion about Rae’s leadership intentions seems to ignore the facts.  He has clearly stated numerous times that the rules do not allow him to run for the leadership and that he is not trying to get the rules changed; he is not saying that he does not want to be the next leader or that he would not run if the rules were changed.  

    • Read the bit in the original article titled November 10, 2011, then come back and try again.

    •  It never had anything to do with legally enforceable “rules” that have to be changed. He was given the position based on his personal promise not to run for the permanent leadership. If he runs, he shows that his personal promise is worth nothing: no matter what, his leadership will be legal, but illegitimate.

    • Rae never stated that the rules do not allow him to run for permanent leader.

      Before accusing others of confusion and ignoring facts, I suggest you double-check your sources.

      Heck, even Ignatieff was interim leader before becoming permanent leader. If the rules state interim leaders cannot become permanent leaders, then how to explain Ignatieff going from interim to permanent?

    •  My bad – brain fart – skimmed through Aaron’s post without thinking.  Going to stand in the corner for the next 3 weeks.

  12. Bob lied,the liberals died,fourth party stutus coming up and Thomas will gather the remnants.

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