Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bob Rae confirmed right man for the top job

By Bobbie Saga

It’s official. Bob Rae was confirmed the right man for the job of interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Rae was chosen interim leader by the national board of  the Liberal party following a vote amongst 34 elected Mps and 45 sitting senators. The board met in Ottawa Wednesday where, after a two-hour caucus meeting, it picked Toronto PM Rae to lead the party for the next 18 to 22 months.

With his decision to take on interim leadership, Rae has taken himself out of the running for the permanent Liberal  leadership position. Earlier this month a plan was drafted by the board stipulating an interim leader must solemnly renounce, in writing, any intention of seeking the permanent leadership, plus make a vow not to pursue any discussions about a possible merger of the Liberals with the NDP.

Rae, with his wife at his side, smiled and accepted the new, temporary job. He told reporters he is honoured to have the position, but knows the job will not be easy after the federal election that saw the party reduced to third party status.

"I’m very happy to have this responsibility," Rae said during the announcement.

He added his focus will be rebuilding the Liberal brand, saying his first priority will be to re-engage with the grass roots of the party, then focus on policies such as health care and national unity.

"We simply have to - if I can coin a phrase - pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again… to really engage with members in riding associations and local communities about what the challenges are that are facing them, " Rae said.

The Liberal leadership announcement was followed closely with today's announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that his government intends to eliminate Canada's per vote subsidy. Phase-out plans and details are to be announced June 6.

Brought in by former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in an effort to make a more democratic system, critics charge the elimination of the per vote subsidy is going beneifit Conservatives through big business and power broker, tax deductable donations, while at the same time, have a defistating impact on smaller, less funded or connected parties, and at a greater cost to taxpayers.

© Saga Times 2011

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