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Bob Rae accepts Liberal Party's interim leadership

Canada’s Liberal Party, pushed into third place in recent elections, has appointed as interim leader Bob Rae.

Rae was a prominent advocate of federalism who figured in the Norwegian-led peace process in Sri lanka between 2001 and 2006.

In June 2009 he was denied entry and deported by Sri Lanka’s hardline regime, which was angered by  Rae’s outspoken criticism of the mass killings of Tamil civilians in the preceding months.

The world can't just sit back and let this death and destruction happen,” Rae had said in April 2009 as Sri Lankan artillery continued to kill and wound hundreds of civilians every day.

“This is a humanitarian disaster and must be met with a concerted response.”

In accepting the interim leadership, Rae has effectively agreed to forfeit a run for the permanent party leadership.

His supporters have given him the nickname “Bob the Rebuilder,” saying he has done a lot of thinking since the recent election and believes he can contribute right now to the Liberal Party’s revamp.

His first act as interim leader was to appoint a new shadow cabinet.

“I think you are going to see us as a very feisty, very effective party in opposition. We accept the role that the Canadian people have given us. We’ve taken our lumps and our licks and we’re going to be back in the House."

(See this account of one visit to LTTE-held Vanni in 2003 by Bob Rae and a colleague to conduct seminars on federalism. See also his interview to Tamil Mirror in 2008)

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