Rae gains support in Canadian Liberal leadership race

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae received a boost today in his bid to win the leadership of the federal Liberal Party of Canada when rival candidate Maurizio Bevilacqua announced he was dropping out of the race in order to back Rae.

"I'm convinced that Bob Rae is the best person to lead the Liberal Party to victory. He has the experience and the intelligence and the vision to lead Canada into the 21st century," Mr. Belivacqua said at a news conference, Monday.

Bevilacqua is a six-term Liberal MP representing the riding of Vaughan, Ontario and was seen as a centrist on economic issues.

His departure leaves 10 candidates who will vie for the position at the Liberal leadership convention being held this December in Montreal.

Bevilacqua, 46, had had trouble raising money in the campaign and was thought to be trailing the other candidates. He fell behind the front-runners in the race in terms of raising money and wooing support from senior Liberals. He now becomes national co-chair of Rae's campaign as well as his economic advisor.

Rae is considered a front-runner in the race to succeed Paul Martin along with Michael Ignatieff, Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion. Rae, a former leader of the provincial New Democratic Party joined the Liberals in April after months of speculation about his possible candidacy. The winner of the December convention becomes Leader of the Official Opposition to Stephen Harper's Conservative government.