Rae to run for Liberal leadership

Bob Rae has confirmed he will run for the leadership of the federal Liberal party, ending weeks of rumours over his political future.
Bob Rae announces on Politics he will run for the Liberal leadership. ((Patrick Morrell/CBC) )

Bob Rae has confirmed he will run for the leadership of the federal Liberal party, ending weeks of rumours over his political future.

"Once the party has made up its mind on the rules, the timing, and the date and so on, I'll be making a formal announcement," the Ontario MP told CBC Television's Politics.

"I will indeed be a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal party."

Rae told CBC News he believes the party is in need of reorganizing.

"I've got a unique set of skills and experiences that will serve the party well," he said.

Rae was Ontario's premier from 1990 to 1995 when he was leader of the provincial New Democratic Party, and ran in the 2006 Liberal leadership race won by Stéphane Dion.

After the Liberals lost 18 seats in the Oct. 14 federal election, Dion announced he would step down as party leader once a successor was chosen.

Announcement in response to media report

Speculation has swirled about another leadership bid for Rae. He had neither confirmed nor denied he was seeking the position, but it may have been a media report that forced his hand, said CBC News parliamentary editor Don Newman.

The Globe and Mail reported Friday morning that Rae had told close friends he had doubts about running for the leadership.

"The story in the Globe was completely false," he told Newman in an interview.

As a result of the article, Rae said, he had to ask Dion to relieve him of his duties as foreign affairs critic, a post he had occupied since being elected as an MP for the Toronto Centre riding in a byelection in March.

He said he held a conference call informing party supporters of his decision, to put to rest rumours that he may have second thoughts about a leadership bid.

When asked if he thought potential rivals may have spread the rumours in an effort to draw supporters away from him, Rae did not provide a direct answer.

"It seems to me it’s time to let fresh air into the Liberal party," Rae said. "It’s a time for an end to the endless backroom politics."

Former Martin operatives join Rae's team

Rae's team announced Friday that the former Ontario premier has enlisted the help of Karl Littler, Paul Martin's former deputy chief of staff, and John Duffy, another top Martin strategist.

The Globe reported on Friday that three key Liberal campaign operatives had thrown their support behind a possible bid by Toronto MP Michael Ignatieff.

Ignatieff also ran in the 2006 race, where he finished second behind Dion. Ignatieff and Rae are considered the favourites for the leadership crown.

Rae and New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc are only two Liberals to announce their entrance into the race.

Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, who was considered a star candidate, said last week he wouldn't seek the Liberal leadership.

A leadership convention is likely to happen in Vancouver in May, where the party had planned a biennial policy conference. 

With files from the Canadian Press