strong>UPDATE: Bob Rae will not be running for the Liberal leadership.
OTTAWA - Bob Rae has waited a long time for his shot at redemption.
For the last year, he has almost single-handedly kept the Liberals from slipping into obscurity after getting reduced to a third-party rump in the last election.
When the NDP struggled under the sometimes shaky showings of their own interim leader, Nycole Turmel, Rae's virtuoso performance in the House of Commons arguably established him as the better foil to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
All along Rae has remained coy about whether he plans to run for permanent leadership of the party if Liberal brass allow him to do so, as most people expect they will on Wednesday.
"I don't know," Rae told reporters in French when asked about it on Tuesday. "It depends on the decision."
And so it is that on the same day when Rae will be told the crown may be his to lose, polls, the punditocracy and party members will tell him they would prefer Justin Trudeau.
The eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau has seen his popularity soar since he beat burly Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match. Some within the party think a second wave of Trudeaumania could revive the party's flagging fortunes.
Trudeau, who wants to devote time to his two young children, says he's not interested in the top job right now.
But with a recent poll giving him a two-to-one lead in popular support over the other presumed contenders — including Rae — and some Liberals urging him to run, the 40-year-old Montreal MP may rethink his decision to stay out of the fray.
A Trudeau run might be welcomed by a strong faction of Liberals who are dead-set against Rae, many of whom believe he simply carries too much baggage from his single turbulent term as NDP premier of a recession-ravaged Ontario during the early 1990s. They are desperately hoping a strong contender will emerge who can beat him.
Other names have been floated. Astronaut-turned-MP Marc Garneau, who is now the Liberal House leader, is said to be considering a bid. Others among the tiny group of Liberals who managed to get re-elected last year rumoured to be mulling over their chances are Ottawa MP David McGuinty, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray and New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc.
Beyond them, a host of defeated MPs and failed Liberal candidates — including Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, Mark Holland, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Martin Cauchon, Deborah Coyne and David Bertschi — are also thinking about running.
Other prospective candidates have been reluctant to make any final decisions about running until they know for sure whether Rae, a formidable contender who'd immediately be deemed the presumptive front-runner, will be in the race.
The Liberal party's national board of directors is holding a conference call Wednesday night to vote on timelines and rules for the coming leadership race.
Presuming the board of directors allows him to run for permanent leader, Rae has said he will make a decision before the parliamentary session wraps up on June 22. He might well announce his intentions next week at the final Liberal caucus meeting of the session.
Indeed, there have been signs that his campaign is already in gear, with at least one organizer, Toronto MP Jim Karygiannis, signing up supporters among ethnic communities across the country.
Rae ran third in the 2006 Liberal leadership race. He briefly threw his hat in the ring in 2008 but withdrew early after it became clear the party had rigged the rules to ensure a coronation for Michael Ignatieff, Rae's one-time college roommate.
Should Rae take the plunge, the Liberal caucus will have to choose a new interim leader to carry them through to the leadership convention, which is to be held some time between March 1 and June 30 next year.
Surprising Justin Trudeau Facts
With talk of Trudeau making a bid for the Liberal leadership reaching a fever pitch (again), HuffPost takes a look at some surprising facts about Canada's perpetual PM-in-waiting. (CP)
11. Politics On Mother's Side Too
Trudeau's maternal grandfather <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Sinclair_(politician)" target="_hplink">James Sinclair</a> was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in Louis St.-Laurent's government in the 1950s. (House of Commons) <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide incorrectly said Sinclair was a Progressive Conservative MP.</em>
10. Born In Office
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau was only the second child ever to be born while a parent was prime minister</a>. The first was John A. Macdonald's youngest daughter Margaret Mary Macdonald. Trudeau's younger brothers, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel were the third and fourth. (CP)
9. Educated Enough?
Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. He also studied engineering at the Université de Montréal and environmental geography at McGill, but never finished degrees in those fields.
8. Enemies To Friends
While fathers Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau were rivals, sons Justin and Ben are friends. Mulroney attended Trudeau's wedding to Sophie Grégoire. Grégoire has worked as Quebec correspondent for CTV's eTalk, which is hosted by Mulroney. (CP)
7. Let Them Eat Anything But Cake
Trudeau didn't have cake at his wedding, with <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Sophie arguing that people never eat it anyway</a>. (Shutterstock)
6. Born On Christmas
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau entered the world on December 25, 1971</a>.
5. Two Tattoos In One
Trudeau has a large tattoo on his left shoulder. <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/justinpjtrudeau/statuses/179973685136998400" target="_hplink">The planet Earth inside a Haida raven</a>. Trudeau got the globe tattoo when he was 23 and the raven when he turned 40. (Media Ball)
4. Keeping It In The Family
Trudeau and his wife Sophie have two children, Xavier James (4) and Ella-Grace Margaret (3). Both are partially named after family.<a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/4970--the-littlest-trudeau" target="_hplink"> Xavier James is named after Trudeau's maternal grandfather James Sinclair</a> (the politician) and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Gr%C3%A9goire" target="_hplink">Ella-Grace Margaret is named after Trudeau's mother Margaret and Grace Elliot, Trudeau's paternal grandmother</a>. Xavier also happens to share a birthday with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (CP)
3. Politician And Actor
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0846011/" target="_hplink">Trudeau played Talbot Mercer Papineau</a> in the 2007 CBC miniseries "The Great War."
2. .. And Video Game Star
<a href="http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/06/in-deus-ex-justin-trudeau-is-the-pm-and-canada-has-a-problem-with-illegal-immigrants-from-the-u-s/" target="_hplink">Trudeau is prime minister in the dystopian future portrayed in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution</a>. (CP)
1. Childhood Sweathearts
Sophie used to visit the Trudeau family home when she was a child. She was a classmate and friend of Trudeau's youngest brother Michel, who died tragically in a B.C. avalanche in 1998. Justin and Sophie made contact again at a fundraiser in 2003 and soon after began dating. <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Trudeau was so smitten</a> that he declared they would spend the rest of their lives together on the very first date. (CP)