Politics
Grits weigh pros and cons of vacuuming

Justin Trudeau participates in the Federal Liberal Leadership Debate in Winnipeg, Saturday, February 2, 2013.

Credits: Winnipeg Sun/Qmi Agency

MARK DUNN | QMI AGENCY

One can rightly prognosticate that more attention was paid to furry rodents poking their heads out of burrows Saturday than to Liberal leadership aspirants squeezed into comfy chairs panhandling for votes.

While Wiarton Willie was shadow watching in Ontario and his U.S. woodchuck rival Punxsutawney Phil doing the same in Pennsylvania, the nine contenders seeking to lead a rump Grit caucus were in Winnipeg for a non-debate.

Though billed as a debate, the get-to-know them session, a sleepy Oprah-like chat with an Alberta moderator who happened to be a failed Liberal candidate in a recent Calgary by-election, did not pit combatants against each other.

Missing were slippers, brandy snifters and a roaring fire.

And 400 supporters paid $20 a pop for the experience to listen to where the hopefuls stood on crime prevention and transportation to foreign ownership of resources and exporting commodities.

Agriculture and rural issues were also up for grabs as were opportunities to hammer the Conservatives for being too tough on crime and too right wing.

If you tuned in and were expecting fireworks, finger wagging, raised voices and "the moment" that can sometimes define a debate, raising the profile of a lesser candidate or crushing a front runner, you would have been grossly disappointed.

Nonetheless, the infomercial format did provide for some lighter insights into the wannabes, including Marc Garneau - Canada's first astronaut in space - who shared his love of cooking frittatas and household chores, especially vacuuming.

"There is nothing more satisfying than sucking out a dust buffalo with a vacuum cleaner," he said. "I've had many hours of enjoyment from doing it.

"I have to admit I'm not very big on dusting, although with the new Swiffer glove that you can put on you can do some pretty neat stuff."

Former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay said she hates vacuuming and can't cook very well and that she used to feed her kids Kraft dinner and cut up hot dogs. Justin Trudeau said he missed his children and promised to be home in time for his daughter's fourth birthday Tuesday.

Deborah Coyne, a constitutional lawyer, was the only candidate to acknowledge Groundhog Day.

"It is something that my children and I celebrate every year watching that brilliant movie with Bill Murray where you somehow have to avoid repeating the same terrible things over and over."

Like Saturday's format.

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