'I will not be running for the permanent leadership of the party'

Meeting with reporters, Bob Rae has confirmed his decision to stay out of the Liberal leadership race.

“I told the caucus this morning that I would like to continue my mandate as the interim leader until such time as a permanent leader is chosen and that I will not be running for the permanent leadership of the party. When I took on the responsibility of being the interim leader, I did so with an understanding that it was an interim leadership. As time went on, more and more people started saying, Well, are you interested in running for the permanent job? What are you going to do? Etc, etc. And I have naturally, therefore, been thinking about this question and have been wrestling with it and I’ve reached the conclusion that the way in which I can serve my party best is by not running for the permanent leadership, by simply sticking to the task which I agreed to do at the beginning of my mandate. It hasn’t been an easy decision. I’ve had lots of encouragement and lots of people who’ve wanted me to think otherwise, but I think it’s best for the party and I think it’s a decision that I feel very comfortable with. It didn’t come quickly as some of you will know from having watched me skate and then dance and then skate again through many scrums and individual interviews and questions, but nevertheless it’s a decision that I feel very comfortable with. There’s a lot of work to be done this year, going forward. We’ve got still a lot of restructuring to be done. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with the caucus and the executive on improving the condition of the party. And there’s going to be a very active and lively leadership race, which is as it should be.”

Asked to explain his decision, Mr. Rae elaborated on his thinking.

I accepted the job as interim leader and it seemed to me that that’s pretty clear. And there’s going to be lots of speculation about maybe you could do this or the party could do that or we could do this or that and at the end of the day, I said, you know what, it’s too complicated. It’s really much more important for us to accept the fact—Look, I would’ve liked to have won in 2006, I would’ve liked to have effectively been able to run in 2008. Those things didn’t happen. And then I decided that we couldn’t have a two-year gap after the election in 2011. The party was set on delaying the leadership and I said to myself, well, it’s important that we try to do the best and I thought I could offer the best to the party in 2011 as the interim leader. That doesn’t magically transform itself into another job. And I think you have to be realistic about that. And be fair to everybody. And, frankly, respect rules and respect people’s expectations. I know some of you may find it hard to believe, but sometimes you do actually want to do things that pass every possible smell test. That’s the way I’m trying to operate.