Trudeau main target for third Grit leadership debate

Justin Trudeau stopped in the Town of Bracebridge as part of his campaign for the leadership of the federal Liberal party on Feb. 15 2013.

Credits: Corey Wilkinson/QMI Agency


OTTAWA — Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau was pressured by challengers Saturday to show he has substance, not just sizzle.

Trudeau, who has raised more money than all other candidates combined, was the main target throughout the third debate in the Grit leadership race, held Saturday afternoon in Mississauga, Ont.

There will be five debates before a new party boss is named on April 14.

Trudeau’s main challenger, former astronaut Marc Garneau, took aim at the 41-year-old Quebec MP for his qualifications.

Garneau, 63, was the first Canadian in space. He has also been a naval officer, an electrical engineer, a university chancellor and the president of the Canadian Space Agency.

“Leadership is about much more than being a motivational speaker,” Garneau said to Trudeau. “Please tell us what in your resume qualifies you to be the leader of the country.”

Trudeau said he has unrolled a number of different policy ideas, including on education. He is certified teacher.

“We can’t lead from a podium … you can’t win over Canadians with a five-point plan,” he said. “You have to connect with them.”

Former MP Martha Hall Findlay also took a shot at Trudeau, questioning how he could relate to the middle class considering his privileged upbringing.

“You keep referring to the middle class. You, yourself, have admitted that you actually don’t belong to the middle class,” she said. “I don’t know how you would understand the problems facing real Canadians.”

Trudeau, who is the son of late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, said he has been "lucky" in his life and suggested he is trying to do something with it.

“What is important for me is to put everything I have received, like each of us wants to, in service of my community,” Trudeau said. “That is what is my identity is all about.”

Earlier this week, NDP MPs criticized Trudeau for collecting $277,000 through a number of public speaking engagements.

A QMI Agency examination of those engagements found that nine events for which he earned $147,000 were held on days the House of Commons was sitting.

Trudeau has said he set a “new bar for transparency” by releasing the figures to the Ottawa Citizen.
Garneau and fellow Grit MP Kirsty Duncan have also earned money through public speaking.

All three followed House of Commons guidelines and reported income to the federal ethics commissioner.

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