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The Liberal Party sets up its gear ahead of Michael Ignatieff's election-night rally in Toronto on May 2, 2011. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The Liberal Party sets up its gear ahead of Michael Ignatieff's election-night rally in Toronto on May 2, 2011. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Liberal brass rejigs rules <br/>to delay naming Ignatieff's permanent successor Add to ...

The national board of the federal Liberal Party has established the rules for appointing an interim leader to replace Michael Ignatieff and says it will amend the party constitution to extend the race for permanent leader beyond the mandated time frame.

The board, which met Monday night, sent a statement Tuesday to the members of the Liberal caucus - 34 MPs and 46 senators - to inform them of the processes that will be followed in the leadership selection.

Party president Alf Apps issued a statement Tuesday saying those processes have been approved by all members of the national board as well as the presidents of every provincial and territorial Liberal association in Canada.

Mr. Apps also pointed out that members of the media had obtained a draft of the statement before it was put to the board on Monday night. "This is to advise that the Statement adopted last night at the meeting of the National Board was NOT the draft Statement in circulation," he wrote.

But it was not much different.

Like the original draft version, the final statement said any interim leader must have the support of the majority of elected MPs. The final version also said that person must have the approval of senators as well.

The original draft said the interim leader must state in writing that he or she will be bound by the party constitution, will not seek the permanent leadership of the party, and will not engage in negotiations that would significantly change the structure of the party - such a as merger with the NDP - without the approval of delegates at a party convention.

The final draft says the interim leader must be bilingual which eliminates top contender Ralph Goodale.

The original draft instead said any unilingual leader had to have a deputy leader who is a native francophone.

As to the selection of a permanent leader, the board is still planning to hold a virtual convention of delegates in June to put off the final vote until after the party has had time to rebuild. The constitution demands the leadership be decided within six months of the resignation of the existing leader - a span that many in the party had deemed to be too short.

But, while the original draft said that meeting would take place on June 12, the final said it would take place on June 18.

And while the original fee for delegates who plan to virtually attend that convention was $1, the final statement said they will have to pay $20.

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