Trudeau unfazed by challenge from Cauchon
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:13PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 7:50PM EST
MONTREAL—With the cameras flashing, Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau was out campaigning Thursday morning in Repentigny. The MP for Papineau is considered the front-runner, but now faces additional competition from former Liberal MP Martin Cauchon.
Speaking with students, Trudeau didn’t seem fazed by the newcomer.
“I'm very excited that Martin has joined the race. I've been saying from the beginning that we're going to have a very strong and completive field of candidates,” said Trudeau.
Cauchon may be the latest candidate in the race, but he's no stranger to politics, having represented the riding of Outremont as an MP from 1993 to 2004, spending two years as Justice Minister.
“I have a lot of experience. I was president of the party for the Quebec wing, so I know the party very well. Being a former cabinet minister, I know government machinery as well,” said Cauchon.
There are now nine leadership candidates in the race, three from Quebec, including former astronaut and Westmount-Ville-Marie MP Marc Garneau. While Trudeau seems to grab most of the attention, Cauchon cautions that the leadership race isn't all about the young Papineau MP.
“I'm not running against Justin—I’m running to become leader of this party. I'll be speaking to the members and as well to Canadians during the race and in the end it's going to be for the people to decide,” said Cauchon.
While he might not have Cauchon’s institutional knowledge, Trudeau said his grassroots strategy has worked before and he believes it will work again.
“I think what's working to my advantage is the fact that my entire political story has been about fighting on the ground,” said Trudeau. “I work harder on the ground than just about anybody else.”
The Papineau riding had been considered a Bloc Quebecois seat before Trudeau was able to pry it away from Quebec’s separatist representatives in Ottawa.
“He can certainly take credit for that, but we're talking about somebody who was basically born on third base and talks as though he hit a triple,” said Don Macpherson, a political analyst with The Gazette.
Trudeau may be the favourite now. But there is a lot of campaigning to do before April and his opponents are hoping that he has nowhere to go but down.