Marc Garneau takes the gloves off in Liberal leader race, goes after front-runner Trudeau

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The gloves are finally off in the federal Liberal leadership race.

And Marc Garneau — the first one to take off his gloves — is going after front runner Justin Trudeau.

[ Related: Liberal leadership race hasn't helped the party, pollster says ]

In a curtly worded statement, posted on his website Wednesday, the former astronaut turned MP says that he's laid out his detailed platform and wants Trudeau to do the same.

"I am concerned by what I have heard from Justin since this leadership contest began. Justin says now is not the time to tell Liberals, to tell Canadians, where he stands and what his plan is for the country. He says he will do that after the Liberal leadership race — sometime before the next election in 2015. In my opinion, this is like asking Canadians to buy a new car without test-driving it," the statement reads.

"Monday, I announced my position on youth employment and student loans. And, I will continue to present my vision and positions, to be straight with Canadians on where I stand and where I want to lead, for the duration of this campaign. This is not the case with Justin.

"He has told Canadians that we need a “bold” plan and a “clear vision” without defining either. On Justin’s two clear priorities, the middle class and youth engagement, he has said nothing."

Sun News media personality and Trudeau supporter Warren Kinsella calls Garneau's comments "desperate."

"Coming from a guy whose last debate was notable for his lengthy discussion about vacuuming, it looks desperate," Kinsella told Yahoo! in reference to the Winnipeg leadership debate where he told moderator Harvey Locke that he enjoys vacuuming.

"If I were advising Trudeau, I would tell him to ignore it."

Many in the media have questioned Trudeau's political substance but Garneau is the first Liberal candidate to directly broach the subject.

Fellow leadership candidate George Takach says he won't be doing the same.

"I'm happy to debate the merits of any candidates ideas but I'm not going to be attacking anyone because they don't live up to my expectation of what a candidate should be," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"I think my mother taught me years ago, when you sling mud you tend to lose ground and I still live by that. At the end of the day, on April 16 — the day after the vote — this team has to work together to focus on who the real opposition is which is Harper and Mulcair."

For his part, Trudeau says that he won't be putting out a formal policy platform during the leadership.

Toronto Star journalist Susan Delacourt published excerpts from Trudeau's recent speech at Western University where he spoke about his approach in this campaign.

Many of my colleagues are very much emphasizing their strengths around policy and their specific ideas and I’m actually frustrating both media pundits and a lot of others -- not because I haven’t had a lot of very clear things to say, whether it be against the Northern Gateway pipeline, in favour of the legalization of marijuana, against strengthening the language laws in Quebec, various things that are ... difficult issues for politicians to deal with.

But because I’m not going to be putting forward a comprehensive platform over the course of this leadership. And that’s because the Liberal party has gotten far too much in the habit of generating a platform by the leader and some very smart people around them, that they then turn to Liberals across the country and say ‘now go and sell this door to door.’

This leadership is the beginning of a platform-development process, not the end of it.

[ Related: Liberal leadership candidate George Takach says he can beat Justin Trudeau with a ‘Geek Revolution’ ]

While Garneau's statement does seem like a desperate move, it might have been Garneau's only option. Trudeau is the clear front runner and the only way to stop him might be to attack him directly.

Whatever the case, the Liberal leadership race, which some to this point have described as a snooze fest, just got a lot more interesting.

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

Are you a politics junkie?
Follow @politicalpoints on Twitter!