'We can not afford to get caught up in internal wrangling'

Bob Rae will not seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party.

Bob Rae has written as follows to the Liberal caucus. He has apparently told supporters that he won’t seek the permanent leadership.

Colleagues and friends,

I want to advise you that I am willing to let my name stand for the position of interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.  It is my understanding that this issue will be discussed by the caucus on May 25, 2011, and by the national board of the Liberal Party before the deadline of May 30.

After the worst election defeat in our history, it is vital that we come together as a party, and engage directly with Canadians about what matters to them. The pursuit of social justice and a sustainable prosperity in a united Canada has to remain our focus. We cannot afford to get caught up in internal wrangling.

Canadians want a progressive party that is committed to building the country. At our best we can be that party. We have to be the party that can take the country forward.

The task facing us is great, but you know I am a “glass half full” person. We have a talented and hardworking caucus in both the House and the Senate. We have much goodwill in the country. There is a strong need for a party that is not caught in the trap of ideological excess.  We need to use the talents of every member of the Liberal team right across the country.

I shall abide by any rules about the interim leadership, agreed to by the caucus and the Board. I have made it a watchword of my time in public life to practice the politics of unity and principled compromise. I shall continue to do so.

The party has to make a choice between having a leadership convention soon, and having a period of rebuilding and then a leadership 18-24 months from now. I favour the second option, and that is the context within which I would accept the appointment as Interim Leader. If this longer period is agreed to, it is my understanding that the exact timing of the leadership election will be recommended by the caucus to the national board.

I look forward to discussing these issues with you in the days ahead.

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