Toronto MP Gerard Kennedy has announced he will not seek the federal Liberal leadership, further shortening the list of potential contenders to replace Stéphane Dion.
"While I greatly appreciate all of the confidence expressed in me and believe I could have mounted a stronger campaign than last time, I will not be a candidate in this leadership race," Kennedy said in a written statement issued on Wednesday afternoon.
Kennedy, a former Ontario cabinet minister, was widely considered to be Dion's kingmaker when he threw his support behind Dion at the 2006 convention.
Kennedy said he has focused his recent energies on supporting the Liberal party and on winning his Parkdale-High Park seat in the October federal election, not on mounting a leadership campaign.
"On a personal level, my young family has already felt the impact of successive challenging campaigns and, on a practical level, this contest has arisen quite suddenly after the election," he said.
Kennedy said he would be able to represent his riding more effectively and Canadians by helping the Liberals be "a strong Opposition."
Dion announced his intention to resign in October following the Liberal's poor showing in the election. In one of the worst results in terms of popular vote for the party in more than 100 years, the Liberals took 76 seats in the election. Going into the Oct. 14 election, the party had held 95.
"There is an understanding as we get further away from the actual election you can't scapegoat Mr. Dion," Kennedy told CBC News parliamentary editor Don Newman. He added the Liberal party has to engage its supporters in order to attain the renewal it seeks.
"There are structural needs — we need to let people in and let them be part of things. That's when things will get better."
In the interview, Kennedy declined to endorse any candidates — announced or not — for the leadership.
The leadership convention is scheduled for April 30 to May 3 in Vancouver.
McGuinty, Coderre out
Ottawa MP David McGuinty also announced on Wednesday that he would not be seeking the party’s leadership.
McGuinty issued a letter in the afternoon that stated he would be focusing on working in his constituency and trying to help reinvigorate the party so it can "earn the trust and confidence of the Canadian people so that we might again in the future earn the privilege of serving Canadians as their government."
Montreal MP Denis Coderre has also announced he will not be seeking the leadership.
"I don't need a moral victory," Coderre told Newman in an interview.
He told Newman that while he had the ambition to run he felt the race would be "between [Toronto MPs] Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff and I will wait."
A lot of people told me outside of my native province that they feel I have that capacity to run," said Coderre.
"But they felt that maybe this time also it would be the time for somebody outside of my province."
The last three Liberal leaders have been from Quebec and party members likely will want someone from another province to represent them, he said in an interview with Montreal newspaper Le Devoir.
Coderre, who endorsed Ignatieff at the Liberal leadership race in 2006, did not say who he would be supporting this time.
Ignatieff expected to launch bid on Thursday
Ignatieff is expected to formally announce his bid for the top Liberal position in Ottawa on Thursday.
Ignatieff, who finished second in 2006, is widely seen as perceived front-runner in the leadership contest.
Currently, he'll only be running against Rae, his former university roommate, and New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc.
Former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon and Brampton MP Ruby Dhalla are also believed to still be weighing their options regarding if they will run.
Martha Hall Findlay, the only woman among the candidates at the 2006 convention, had announced Tuesday that she would not be participating in this leadership race.
Former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and former deputy prime minister John Manley have also given the contest a pass.
Many of the contenders from the 2006 race are still struggling with debts from that campaign.
In this leadership campaign, the party decided candidates must pay $90,000 to put their name in the ring. They can spend up to $1.5 million on their campaigns.
Hall Findlay cited her $170,000 debt from 2006 as one of the reasons she would not be running again.
Kennedy also owes just under $200,000 from his 2006 bid.