Liberals meet to set rules for leadership race

Liberal Party brass will meet in Ottawa this weekend to establish rules for selecting a new leader. Their decisions will determine Bob Rae's future leadership prospects.

Bob Rae currently serving as interim leader, but may be interested in the permanent job

Liberal Party brass will meet in Ottawa this weekend to establish rules for selecting a new leader.

About 30 directors from the national board will gather behind closed doors to hammer out guidelines and discuss the implementation of constitutional changes that stem from January’s biennial convention.

It’s expected that if new rules allow interim leader Bob Rae to run, he would be required to step down from his post by the end of June. New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc is considered a potential interim leader to replace Rae if he enters the race to become the party’s permanent boss.

The convention to select a new leader will take place between March and June 2013, but details have not yet been finalized.

Potential leadership contenders include former Toronto MPs Gerard Kennedy and Martha Hall Findlay, Ottawa MP David McGuinty and astronaut-turned Montreal MP Marc Garneau.

David Bertschi, who waged an unsuccessful bid to represent the Ottawa-Orleans riding under the Liberal banner last election, is also considering a run.

Rae, 64, has remained coy on whether he’ll enter the race. In a recent interview with a Summerside, P.E.I. newspaper, he said he’ll wait to see what the new rules are before making a decision.

"The party is going to have to decide what the rules are and if they say they’re going to take the limitation on the interim leader then, obviously, I’ve got a decision to make," he told the Pioneer-Journal. "Arlene and I will make that decision once the party’s made up its mind. There’s going to be a contest for the leadership. It’s not going to be a coronation for the leadership. It’s going to be a very competitive, open race. I’m just waiting to hear whether or not I’m allowed to participate in it."

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have wasted no time launching ads attacking Rae’s record when he served as Ontario NDP premier from 1990-1995.

"Bob Rae refuses to rule out his intention to seek the full-time leadership of his party. But everyone knows he wants to be prime minister," said Conservative Party director of communications Fred DeLorey in an email. "We believe Canadians have a right to know the record of someone who wants to be their prime minister. For Bob Rae, it’s a proven record of failure while he was premier of Ontario."

The NDP insists it’s focusing on the real opponent: Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

"It’s up to the Liberals to figure out what they are going to do. It won’t change anything for the NDP, since as Official Opposition, our focus is to stand up to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and offer Canadians a clear alternative in the next election," NDP principal secretary Karl Belanger told CBC News.