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David McGuinty mulls Liberal leadership bid at convention

David McGuinty, M.P., Ottawa South on day two of the Liberal Convention in Ottawa on Jan. 14, 2011. There is speculation that he may throw his name into the hat at the next Liberal leadership race.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

There is now the distinct possibility of a McGuinty running a province and another running the Liberal Party.

David McGuinty, the younger brother of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ottawa South MP, told reporters Saturday, after they grabbed him as he was hovering around the media room at the Liberal's biennial convention, that he is seriously considering a bid to run for the federal leadership. But he needs a few more months to think about it.

"I'm reaching out to people right across the country and that's what I should be doing in a quiet way," said Mr. McGuinty. "This has been a really remarkable experience because I am looking mostly for the folks who have never been to a convention before."

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There are an estimated 3,000 delegates at the convention. Mr. McGuinty believes a large number of them are first-timers.

He is the first MP to openly muse about a run. Quebec MP Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, took himself out of the speculation a few weeks ago, saying his priority is his family and he's not interested in a bid now.

But the leadership is far off. Liberals are not deciding on their new leader at this weekend's convention. Rather, they are deciding on a process to elect the leader, which will not happen until the spring of 2013.

So far, however, all of the speculation has been about Bob Rae, the interim leader, seeking the permanent leadership – and that has been fraught with controversy as Mr. Rae had said when he took the interim post that he would not go for the permanent job.

And now there's some buzz around Premier McGuinty throwing his hat in the ring. That has been fuelled by the keynote address he gave to the convention Friday night that was punctuated with much applause as he reminded Liberals of what it means to be a Liberal.

He also preached patience, recalling that he spent seven years as opposition leader before forming the government.

"Listen, he may be premier but I can still take him, physically that is," joked Mr. McGuinty when asked about the possibility of running against his brother.

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He wouldn't answer the question as to whether he would even like to see his brother run.

"He's got a heck of a big job ahead of him right now," he said about his Premier brother who was just re-elected with a minority government last fall. "He's made it very plain he's got a big job and he's working on what he has to get done. He's wrestling a tough economic situation to the ground in Ontario and he's doing the right thing."

There is a strong view, meanwhile, that Mr. Rae would have to step aside as interim leader well before the leadership vote. Bu there are no clear rules about how this would exactly work.

Mr. McGuinty did not appear worried about that.

"I have every faith in the good faith of Bob Rae," he said. "Bob's a great guy. He's very talented, he's very experienced. He's a huge asset for Canada ... Bob will govern himself accordingly."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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