Well, it's certainly not official, but all signs point to a Peter Tabuns NDP leadership campaign here in Ontario.
Although Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton recently announced that he was staying put, the general consensus is that he will retire after the next federal election in time for the 2009 Ontario NDP convention. I have blogged quite a bit about Tabuns and other would-be successors, but a Tabuns candidacy is almost a sure thing at this point.
1. Although the entire Ontario NDP caucus (minus Rosario Marchese) attended Hampton's speech to the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention in November, Tabuns was the only MPP to stick around for an extra day. This is significant because organized labour is an important stakeholder in the Ontario party and Tabuns has a few anti-union skeletons in his closet. He needs to work hard to mend fences with the labour movement.
2. Tabuns has embarked on a province-wide speaking tour called "Dialogue for a New Energy Economy" wherein he discusses an "exciting new plan to transform Ontario from a province dependent on diminishing reserves of imported non-renewable energy to a thriving economy with good jobs built on energy efficiency and renewable energy resources." Sounds like the theme to a leadership campaign to me....
3. As previously discussed, as a former Executive Director of Greenpeace and the NDP's current Environment critic, Tabuns' green credentials make him an attractive candidate in some circles. He's closer to Jack Layton than he is to Howard Hampton policy-wise and many of Layton's people will work for Tabuns.
4. Tabuns, elected in a 2006 by-election, is not tainted by the Rae years like Hampton was. As such, he can disavow the former NDP leader in a way that a former Rae cabinet minister could not. This plays into the theme of party renewal that the anti-Hampton crowd is trumpetting.