Former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae, backed by former prime minister Jean Chretien's right-hand man, will set the stage Monday for a likely Liberal leadership run with a speech in Winnipeg outlining challenges facing the country.
Rae, who will be the guest speaker at a Canadian Club luncheon, has yet to declare his intentions, but his name has come up frequently as a strong would-be contender in the race to replace former prime minister Paul Martin. Three high-ranking Liberal sources have told The Canadian Press that Eddie Goldenberg is in Rae's corner.
The former top man in Chretien's office acted as an emissary for Rae at a recent briefing provided by party executives for potential leadership teams.
Rae and Goldenberg share a friendship that dates back 30 years, and both Goldenberg and Chretien are close to Rae's brother, John Rae, an influential Liberal fundraiser and executive at Power Corp.
Together, the pair would give Rae some high-powered clout on both the policy and financial end of a leadership bid.
Rae, a lawyer with extensive experience in negotiation, mediation and arbitration, brings many attributes to the table, not the least of which is the fact he is bilingual.
However, his supporters are also acutely aware that Rae's poor record in Ontario from 1990-95, which included the largest deficit ever at that time followed by massive cost-cutting, would be a weakness.
They hope he could counter that by helping consolidate a left-of-centre coalition that would eventually squeeze out the NDP.
One gets the sense now that there's been a setup.
McKenna, Tobin, Manley and Rock dropped out so quickly because Power and Ti-Jean had tried them and found them wanting in loyalty and pliability.
Stronach and Brison have both been torpedoed--the first by her demands to "speak white", the second by his Blackberry.
Ignatieff spent too long out of the country.
And the other named contenders have been taking too long to test the waters.
Bob Rae, on the other hand, has been absolved for his spectacular incompetence as Ontario's only NDP premier with his conversion to fiscal responsbility, his yeoman's service on the Air India inquiry, and his denunciation of the NDP's captivity to the isolationist loony left.
He has remade himself into the very model of the modern Liberal.
Sound the trumpets for the coronation!