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What Justin Trudeau has to prove in the Munk Debate

During tonight’s Munk Debate, the Liberal Leader will face lengthy head-to-head challenges on key foreign files


 
From left to right, NDP Leader Tom Muclair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper are seen at various points during the Globe and Mail leaders' debate, in this photo illustration, on Thursday, September 17, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

From left to right, NDP Leader Tom Muclair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper are seen at various points during the Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, in this photo illustration, on Thursday, September 17, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

TORONTO — For Justin Trudeau, Monday night’s debate on foreign affairs could be a key test as to whether the Liberal leader has the substance and depth his supporters say he does, or whether he is, as his critics say, more platitude than policy.

The format of the Munk debate will see the three main party leaders engage in lengthy head-to-head challenges on the one policy area. Any lack of knowledge or half-thought-out position could be quickly exposed.

Trudeau, who entered the campaign facing criticism he was a political lightweight — and, in the words of the Conservatives, “not ready” — has performed above expectations so far, according to Royce Koop, who teaches political science at the University of Manitoba.

Related: What Stephen Harper has to prove in the Munk Debate 

Koop points out the Liberals had little momentum in pubic opinion polls before the election campaign began, and were being hammered for supporting the Conservative’s anti-terror Bill C-51.

“He has turned it around,” Koop said. “Trudeau’s been doing good on policy lately. He’s been putting policies out there that seem to be grabbing … positive attention, in a way that I think people might not have expected.”

The format of tonight’s debate will require in-depth answers about what each leader would do on the world stage. Trudeau and Mulcair have consistently accused the Conservatives of ruining Canada’s reputation as a peacekeeper and humanitarian nation, but will be pressed to offer detailed plans on what should be done in the Middle East and other trouble spots.

The three debates so far have not seen any obvious knockout punches. Still, polling throughout the campaign suggests the Liberals have slowly edged up into the thick of the three-way race since the race officially began.

During the first two debates in particular, Trudeau often came across as the most energetic — a little too hyper, according to some critics.

Related: What Tom Mulcair has to prove in the Munk Debate 

His communications co-ordinator offered no sign that Trudeau will turn down the volume. “He is who he is, and … he is passionate about issues and that’s how he kind of approaches everything. That’s his style,” said Kate Purchase on Sunday.

Koop said Trudeau may want to strike a more serious, more mature tone this time around.

“There’s nothing wrong with being punchy and aggressive … but maybe the trick for him is to put these policy stances together with something that’s a little more statesman-like.”

 


 

What Justin Trudeau has to prove in the Munk Debate

  1. Trudeau’s main goal in the debate, is not to look like Harper and Mulcair, but go after Harper over the F-35 boondoggle and take it too him hard about his procurement debacle, Harper is weak on this, very weak. This is the time for Trudeau to step up his support, and push, if elected, to finally have a representative to have a seat at the security council in the United Nations, another sore spot for Harper. Mulcair is weak on military credentials, where are the stars and stripes in his party, not even a weekend warrior in their party, and no disrespect to weekend warriors. Like Paul Wells said on CTV power play, the dippers never ever had a defense minister in their party, so as far as foreign policy goes, they have very little credentials when it comes to foreign policy. With Mulcair and Harper, you two headed monster.

    • Just one other thing Trudeau needs to do in this debate, is go after Harper more than Mulcair, and eat up as much of his oxygen as you can, not with just talking points either, but substance, because Harper needs to be taken down a peg or two. Harper has the advantage over both parties because they have all the files on foreign policy, and both other parties have the disadvantage of not seeing these foreign policy files because of the strict secrecy in the conservative government, they, opposition parties have to come up with policy with the information that’s available to them, other than the governments.

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