Bob Rae stunned the political world last week when he announced he was not going to run for the top position in the third most powerful party in Canada.
Whenever I hear the name Rae, it brings me back to elementary school. Rae was the NDP premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995. I remember my mother, who worked for the school board, cursing Rae Days. I was such a keener in elementary school, I also remember being very disappointed by the fact that I got a day off from school on Rae Days. These days stemmed from a social contract Rae implemented as premier where civil servants were forced to take days off without pay. This contract also involved wage freezes and made the provincial NDP very unpopular.
However, the contract was successful. The province saved close to $2 billion and prevented public employee layoffs. Rae was like a parent who just wants what's best for his kids, but Ontarians have never forgiven their one-time provincial father for his drastic fiscal measures. When children become adults, they usually look back and realize their parents simply had their best interests in mind. Not Ontarians; pundits point to Rae Days as the reason Rae lost the Liberal leadership in 2006 and again in 2008. Other commentators say Rae isn't running for the Liberal leadership this time because of his age; he'll be 64 in August.
Whether it be his track record or his age, the next natural question is who will lead the Reds? Let's look at a few of the names being touted.
He has the assertiveness of his father and the good looks of his mother. Relatively young at 40, Trudeau says he's under immense pressure to run. The general consensus is that he's not ready, but after Ignatieff, wouldn't a charismatic leader be the shot in the arm this sagging party needs?
One of the two female names being bandied around, this BC MP has not expressed leadership aspirations. Even if Murray did want to become the Liberal leader, it doesn't read well when political journalists from her home province are writing op-eds discounting her.
While Garneau doesn't have the same name recognition as Trudeau, this Quebec MP is a former astronaut, which is always a crowd pleaser with the mindful (or mindless) masses. When asked on CTV if he plans to run, Garneau said, "I am looking at it seriously. And what I mean by seriously is that I'm doing my homework." Perhaps Garneau's studious attitude will be the party's salvation and rocket the Liberals' voting numbers back up to the top.
If LeBlanc's name in the context of the Liberal leadership race seems all too familiar, that's because he ran in 2008. When LeBlanc saw his ship was sinking three years ago, he escaped to a lifeboat, flying the Iggy flag of support. A hometown boy, when LeBlanc was asked if he would run in 2013, he said he's taking time to reflect before he makes his decision. LeBlanc also said the Liberals need to concentrate on their presence in French Canada and the new leader should be fully bilingual. Quelle surprise!
The brother of Ontario's current premier, McGuinty represents the riding of Ottawa South. He has been described as young (I suppose 52 is young in Canadian politics), bright and bilingual. However, he hasn't officially announced his intentions. McGuinty has said he will mull over the prospect this summer, with input from his brother, no doubt.
Martha Hall Findlay
This Toronto-area MP is considered a strong contender by most. Findlay has said she is definitely considering a run. When asked on CTV about the future of her party, Findlay said, "The party hasn't been a national party for a long time. So the people who are running shouldn't be looking at it like it was the job it used to be. They should absolutely be aware of the work that is required." Sensible, honest and realistic. She doesn't stand a chance.
If Brison were successful in a run for the leadership, he would be the first openly gay party leader at the federal level in our country's history. He's a pitbull for the little guy, as he's recently made headlines calling for the govenment to look more closely at wage inequality. He has my vote, although in a recent poll, he garnered single digits of support.
Other potential leaders who have polled well include Ralph Goodale, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and Gerard Kennedy. The vote is expected to take place in April 2013.