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Liberals to debate delaying leadership vote indefinitely

MIKE CASSESE/Reuters

The Liberal National Board is calling for an "extraordinary convention" to decide whether the party can delay choosing a new leader.

In a statement Saturday, Robert Hamish Jamieson, the national membership secretary, laid out the proposal for the June 18 teleconference in which delegates would vote on an amendment to delay the leadership vote.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's announcement May 3 to step aside triggered the countdown to a leadership convention. He announced his decision the morning after the election that saw the Grits reduced to historic lows.

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In his statement, Mr. Jamieson noted the party constitution requires that the leadership vote be held October 28 and 29; it is one member, one vote.

"However, so many members ... have called, written and emailed your board members, asking that the leadership vote be delayed," he wrote. "According to your feedback, the overwhelming reason to delay the leadership vote is to allow for meetings throughout our ridings, regions and provinces in the upcoming months so we may together discuss and decide upon our future as a party and focus on serious policy and organizational rebuilding work before we turn our attention to our leadership choices."

The extraordinary convention is a procedure allowed under the party's constitution, according to Mr. Jamieson.

Many Liberals had worried that having to hold a leadership vote within such a short time period after losing the election would just compound the party's problems, distracting from the rebuilding process.

The Liberals have had three leadership conventions since 2003.

An interim leader, meanwhile, is still to be chosen - Quebec Liberal MP Marc Garneau has now thrown his hat into the ring.

There is speculation that MPs Justin Trudeau, Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae will seek the leadership.

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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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