Fomer cabinet minister John Manley says he's thinking about running for the leadership of the federal Liberal party, but wants to test the waters and see if there's support for such a bid.

Manley, who has been out of parliament for four years, spoke about his leadership ambitions following a speech to business leaders at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Monday morning.

"I hear from a lot of people in different parts of the country that they would like me to run and quite frankly I'm assessing it from both a political and personal perspective," Manley told reporters.

Manley says he's not craving the job but wants to test the waters to determine his political and financial support.

The former Ottawa South MP held three different cabinet posts during the Chr�tien government, including deputy prime minister and finance minister. He ran for the leadership in 2003 but dropped out when it became apparent Paul Martin had enough delegates to win.

Manley angered some Liberals last year when Prime Minister Stephen Harper named him chair of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.

Among those expected to run in a bid to replace current Liberal Leader Stephane Dion include perceived front-runners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. Both men currently hold seats in the House of Commons.

The hunt for a new leader comes after Dion announced his decision to step down. The Liberals suffered one of their biggest election defeats in party history on Oct. 14, winning only 76 seats, a 27-seat decline from 2006.