The knives are out for Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau now that contenders have kicked off a debate in Mississauga, Ont.
Trudeau, who has raised more money than all the other candidates combined, is expected to be the main target throughout the third debate in the race. There will be five debates in total before a new leader is named on April 14.
Trudeau’s main challenger, former astronaut Marc Garneau, attacked the Quebec MP for being more sizzle than substance in the first question of the debate.
“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, who seemed visibly uncomfortable, said he has unrolled a number of different policy ideas including on areas including education. Trudeau is a 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.”
Nine Liberal leadership hopefuls are participating in the Saturday debate.
Earlier this week, Trudeau was criticized by a number of NDP MPs for collecting $277,000 for a number of public speaking engagements since 2008.
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 but he said he will not comment further.
The two other Liberal MPs to earn speaking fees are Garneau and Toronto-area MP Kirsty Duncan.
All three followed House of Commons guidelines and reported income from speaking events to the House of Commons ethics commissioner.
- with files from David Akin