I’ve talked to a few Liberals in recent months, many of whom spoke glowing of Bob Rae’s interim leadership. The polls were actually pretty kind, Liberals looked strong under his guidance, in many ways we were outperforming the NDP, creating some optimism about a permanent run. However, Liberals are now recalibrating themselves as the realization of a permanent NDP leader comes into focus, one that is armed with a firmed up support in a region critical to future Liberal fortunes. Let’s call it sobering, and within that the "feel good" flavour surrounding Bob Rae is being re-examined.
If the Liberals stay around their 2011 election numbers, any sense of momentum under Rae is obliterated and this reality will force more bold thinking. In my view, the Liberals have ONE chance to beat back the electoral "squeeze" and this will be our open leadership process. The structure is set, which allows for a type of resonance rarely seen in politics, IF, and this is a big IF, Liberals somehow manage to find a vehicle capable of piercing the thick apathy. The Liberal leadership will be our best opportunity to mix up the new Canadian political order, squander it and the challenge is incredibly daunting, capitalize and room for some optimism.
Within that critical leadership frame, I think it works against Bob Rae moving forward. A coronation flavour leadership is political death in my estimation. As well, the pullback polling, the fight to remain relevant, get ink, all contribute to a sense that a dramatic turn of events is required. The Liberals well back in third doesn’t work for Bob Rae, it impacts him negatively, people may well embrace a more ambitious generational change. I was your interim leader for a year with no sense of rising fortunes, that doesn’t equate to wind in your sails. Let us not forget, the former mild uptick brought a rash of feel good Rae media, stands to reason a withering results in re-examination.
There was perhaps a false sense of the confidence, as a result of Liberals largely having opposition Ottawa to themselves, as the NDP were distracted with their leadership. I contend Mulcair was the least desirable outcome for the Liberals, and the regional breakdowns of polls are now revealing that perceived problem. Liberals will now go through another tough spot- Rae’s posture this week evidence of newfound desperation- and these challenges will force a more ambitious course moving forward. Again, I see recent events working decidedly against Bob Rae, not a preference, just an observation.
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