Photo cred: Jean-Marc CarisseJustin Trudeau is now officially on the campaign trail for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.  Now that his much anticipated announcement has been made, there is speculation and talk about other potential candidates deciding to refrain from running in order to support Trudeau.

Shane Geschiere had considered running for the leadership but his less high-profile considerations have come to a decisive end with Trudeau’s announcement.  He has told the Winnipeg Free Press that he will bow out in order to support Trudeau.  He elaborated to say that Trudeau represents the kind of candidate Geschiere wanted to be, thereby lessening Geschiere’s need to run.

Dominic Leblanc has now officially said he will not run against Trudeau.  The two are long-time friends, even said to have vacationed together with their families this summer.  Leblanc announced Friday that he would not only refrain from running, but fully endorse Trudeau’s campaign.  LeBlanc indicated great optimism and confidence for Trudeau’s potential as the leader of the Liberal party and therefore a potential Prime Minister of Canada pending future elections.

Now officially on the campaign trail, Trudeau began in the West.  At a stop in Richmond, B.C and another in Calgary, Trudeau aimed to show Westerners, particularly Albertans, that he understood and respected their perspective.  He has said that he is open to developing the oil sands with the long-term focus of improving the science and respecting the environment.

The proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, however, is not something he showed great support for.  He indicated that the “extraordinarily vulnerable” forests it would pass through and potential tanker congestion near Kitimat, B.C. as concerns for him moving forward on the project.  He suggested that he has some skepticism the science will be able to alleviate these worries, but hopes that whatever answer the science points to, it will do so clearly.

A quick glance at many of the images of Trudeau presented alongside the growing number of articles detailing the early stages of his campaign show this: a happy, laughing, charismatic candidate, and crowds of supporters.  These images show a very positive impression of his campaign so far, and suggest great potential for the duration of his campaign. However, they are capable of misleading viewers.  Trudeau’s bid for leadership comes with criticism, with some people referring to him as “a kid,” insinuating, or explicitly stating that his 40 years of age are not enough.  There is an unmistakable side of the story which predicts Trudeau and his political career as too young to win.

However, Brian Mulroney warned that doubting Trudeau on his age could be a big mistake for opposition.  In an interview with CBC reporter Amanda Lang the former prime minister of Canada is quoted as saying, “This is not an untalented guy, I was Opposition leader when his father was prime minister.  And we didn’t agree on anything.  But I can tell you this, he was a very tough, able guy and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… if I were leading a political party up there I’d treat him with considerable respect.”

Arthur spoke with local Liberal MPP Jeff Leal about Trudeau’s bid for leadership. When asked what he thinks about critics who claim Trudeau is merely mooching off of his father’s reputation, Leal answered “Justin will be his own man in his own right. He certainly took on the Bloc Québécois to win the riding in Papineau in Montreal… and he is a tenacious worker on behalf of his constituents in that riding.”

Leal says Trudeau will bring a lot of enthusiasm to the leadership race, but he is also hopeful of other potential candidates.

“I hope half a dozen people enter the race in order to have a very thorough discussion on policy and where a prospective Liberal leader would like to take the country. I think that if more people run, it will be more healthier, not only for the federal Liberal Party, but for democracy in Canada.”

There are still MPs considering a campaign against Trudeau. It is said that Marc Garneau (from Westmount-Ville-Marie, Montreal), Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Montreal) and Joyce Murray (Quadra, British Columbia) are all laying groundwork for potential entry into the race.

Alex Burton, Deborah Coyne, and Jonathan Mousley are amongst Justin Trudeau in declaring candidacy for the leadership position.

The leadership race will end and the winner announced in Ottawa on April 14.