Bennett backs Rae as interim Grit leader

St. Paul's MP says former premier will rebuild Liberal Party

Carolyn Bennett has found a glimmer of hope on Parliament Hill.

On May 25, less than a month after the Liberal Party suffered extraordinary defeat at the ballot box, the St. Paul’s MP was happy to see colleague and fellow Toronto rep Bob Rae named interim leader.

The beleaguered party had been on the hunt since Michael Ignatieff lost his seat in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and resigned as leader.

Bennett says Rae, MP for Toronto Centre, will steer the party toward rejuvenation.

“It’s a great move in terms of somebody who’s got all the expertise, I think who can perform well in the House,” she said. “(Rae’s) probably got the sense of humour we need right now.”

Though there was some talk of Rae gunning for the permanent leadership role, Bennett says it isn’t happening, and she’s fine with that.

“I think he’s made it quite clear, and the party’s made it quite clear that the interim leader should not have aspirations to be the permanent leader because it’s too difficult to do both jobs,” she said. “So I think he feels he will have done his job if he can hand over the party in much better shape than he’s received it, onto the next leader.”

As for Bennett, she’s after the role of national caucus chair for the Liberal Party. As caucus chair, Bennett would preside over caucus meetings, and speak on behalf of caucus to the national executive and vice versa.

With others having thrown their hat into the ring for the position, Bennett’s a little concerned that Rae’s profile in the party would have an adverse effect on her run for national caucus chair.

“The problem at the moment is with Bob Rae as the leader, there probably is a bit of a disadvantage in being from the neighbouring riding in terms of a national perspective but I hope we can overcome that with a much better geographical and gender mix to the caucus executive.”

A chair was to be elected in June. The results were unknown at press time.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Jun 7 2011 4:53 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto