NDP MP Olivia Chow has ruled out a bid to succeed her late husband Jack Layton as head of the New Democratic Party, saying the role of Official Leader of the Opposition is "not for me."
In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with the CBC's chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge that will air Monday night on The National, Chow said she wouldn't join the leadership race to continue Layton's legacy as Opposition leader.
"We have a lot of capable people that can be leader. That’s not my role," she said in her first interview since her husband's death, conducted at the site of the couple's marriage on Toronto Island.
"I will continue the work that needs to be done in the House of Commons and pushing a public transit bill, a national one. And I will continue doing that kind of work. But leader, not for me."
When asked by Mansbridge whether she would resist any attempt to convince her to run, Chow shook her head and replied: "Drafting? No."
Many people, she suggested, could carry on with Jack Layton's dream for the party.
"The values are eternal." she said. "It’s in all of us. And if that — if those values come forward, people have it inside them to do good things. Jack is a special person, especially for me. Very, very special .… We’ve done so much together. But many other people can do the kind of politics he does, right? It’s inside us. It’s possible."
In the interview, Chow talks about her life with Layton, their last few days together and takes questions about his final struggle with cancer.
Layton, who died Aug. 22 at the age of 61, led the New Democrats to a historic second-place finish in May's federal election to replace the Liberals as the Official Opposition to Prime Minister's Stephen Harper's Conservative majority government.
Since Layton's death, his wife's name had been thrown in with several other NDP figures as a possible candidate to replace him at the helm of the party.
NDP deputy leaders Thomas Mulcair and Libby Davies have said they are considering running but insist they haven't made a decision yet. A number of other MPs — including Megan Leslie, Francoise Boivin, Robert Chisholm, Romeo Saganash and Peter Julian — have also said they are thinking about it, while the NDP's president, Brian Topp, said he is weighing his options.
The party's federal council is meeting next week to set up the rules that will govern the leadership race. A date and location for a leadership convention must also be decided upon.
Thousands gathered in the streets of Toronto last weekend to watch Layton's funeral procession and memorial service at Roy Thomson Hall.