I think Bob Rae has to be the most interesting Liberal leadership candidate. It's remarkable that he has a pretty good chance of winning it.
I didn't believe him at first when he entered the Liberal race. He just came across as a former NDP opportunist. But he's done a convincing and believable job describing his conversion from the NDP ideology to the more pragmatic Liberal ways.
I was in Ontario when he was premier. It was pretty bad. There was a recession and a massive defecit. Yet he continued to spend and borrow recklessly. He deserved to be turfed after one term and he was. Rae may have learned some things from the hard nosed Mike Harris, who I always thought well of. Maybe he's trying to put a human face on the common sense revolution. What was a revolution in thought for Harris is now the Canadian way.
Can Rae win? This is one of the things what makes him interesting. He can win. Rae is interesting because he is the left wing version of Stephen Harper. Like Harper, he softened his ideological stances to move enough toward the centre to form a coalition to govern.
Will Canadians believe him and give him a chance based on his NDP past and the bad track record in Ontario 1990-1995. Based on recent experience, Canadians will be willing to give a chance. It only took Harper one election to shed any lingering Reform Party labels and be accepted by Canadians as a moderate. Even in the first Harper Conservative election campaign it was hardly an issue. So given that, Canadians will be able to accept Rae when he says he's a moderate now. So if Harper can reinvent himself and get past the Reform Party history, then certainly Rae can do the same coming from the left wing to the center.
The Ontario thing can be easily dealt with considering the brutal recession he inherited when he was premier, plus he was NDP then. Most people will accept Rae if he admits that mistakes were made in Ontario, and will accept he is wiser and more experienced now. A Rae vs. Harper election would be a very interesting battle and I think very much winnable for Rae. If Harper continues to do a good job then possibly Rae could hold Harper to a weak majority and then be in position to win the next time. If Harper falters on the economy or Afghanistan then Rae could surge and have a very good chance of winning the first time.