Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rae clears way for Ignatieff

Well the coronation is now almost complete and you can kiss the coalition goodbye. Unless Harper fills the budget up to the very brim with crap Ignatieff will gobble it all up while grumbling incessantly. We will now have the waiting game in which Ignatieff and the Liberal crew wait for high tide in the polls because before that the Canadian people will not want an election. Ignatieff is fortunate that Dion went gracefully along with Rae as well.

Rae clears way for Ignatieff to take over Liberal helm
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 2:30 PM ET
CBC News
Toronto MP Bob Rae said Tuesday he is dropping out of the Liberal leadership race, putting aside his ambitions for the "greater interest of the country."Liberal MP Bob Rae, shown arriving at his Toronto office on Monday before speaking to reporters about the leadership selection process. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
The announcement, made at a press conference in Ottawa, paves the way for rival Michael Ignatieff to ascend to the party's top job, replacing St├ęphane Dion.
Rae said Canada has been through "quite an extraordinary time" since he joined the race two months ago and it's essential the party have a permanent leader in place before the House of Commons resumes on Jan. 26.
"In these circumstances, I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada requires a new permanent leader to be in place before Parliament returns at the end of January. And it also required me to make some decisions," Rae said.
"I am not a candidate for the interim leadership, nor shall I pursue my candidacy for the party leadership at the Vancouver convention."
The veteran politician and former Ontario NDP premier offered his "full and unqualified support" to Ignatieff, saying he would prove himself a "formidable leader."
"I know Michael Ignatieff to be a person of wisdom and to be a person of generosity. He will make a great prime minister," said Rae.
Rae said the decision was "easy and obvious" and dismissed suggestions he was upset by his second failed bid for the federal Liberal leadership.
"It's just politics. It's not the end of the world here, folks," he told reporters.
No talks with Ignatieff before decision
Rae has been under increasing pressure from inside the party, particularly in the past 24 hours, to bow out of the contest.
The Liberals are eager to install a new leader before Parliament resumes in January as the minority Conservative government faces key confidence motions that could result in either a general election or a Liberal-NDP coalition's rise to power.
Rae's departure leaves Ignatieff as the sole contender for the Liberal leadership. The only other candidate — New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc — announced Monday he was ending his campaign and throwing his support behind Ignatieff.
By bowing out, Rae said he hoped to ensure Ignatieff was the undisputed and unanimous choice of the party, dispelling talk that the party is divided.
Rae noted that he had not spoken to Ignatieff before his press conference, eliminating suggestions he orchestrated a backroom deal with his friend and leadership rival.
The party executive must now determine how to install Ignatieff in a way that meets with the approval of most party members.
They had decided Monday to broaden the leadership selection process to about 800 members, rather than leave it in the hands of the caucus.
But the widened process did not appease Rae, who had been adamantly against having a select few choose the leader, instead pushing for all rank-and-file Liberals to have a voice in the decision.
Coalition in jeopardy?
With Ignatieff poised to take the helm of the party, there were some concerns that the Liberal-NDP coalition could collapse.
CBC's Rosemary Barton reported that some NDP MPs are privately expressing concern about Ignatieff's expected rise to become leader, worried it could mark the demise of the coalition.
While Rae was supportive of the coalition set up to topple Stephen Harper's government, Ignatieff has been lukewarm to the pact.
Over the weekend, he summarized his position as "coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coalition," echoing former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's fence-sitting position on conscription.
NDP MP Olivia Chow insisted that it doesn't matter who ascends to the top Liberal job.
"What's necessary is that Mr. Harper cannot be trusted. We have a very good plan," she told CBC News.
"I hope that all of the Liberal caucus after tomorrow's caucus meeting can join with us to go across the country and say that we have a plan, the plan works and we must make sure that this plan is implemented."
The creation of the coalition was triggered by widespread frustration among opposition parties over the government's fiscal update.
In late November, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered a mini-budget that proposed to ditch per-vote public funding of political parties and freeze public servants' right to strike for three years. It didn't include a stimulus package for the slumping economy.

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