Can Justin Trudeau beat Harper? ‘Just watch me,’ he quips

Ottawa — The Globe and Mail

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau takes part in a debate in Vancouver, Jan. 20, 2013. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Justin Trudeau is following in his father’s footsteps in pursuit of the Liberal leadership, and now he’s using some of the former prime minister’s most famous words.

On a nearly empty flight from Halifax to Ottawa Tuesday night, one passenger sent him a note asking: “Justin, can you really beat Harper? Wishing you all the best! Mike.”

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Invoking his father, Mr. Trudeau replied: “Mike, Just watch me.”

The passenger, Michael Kydd, posted a picture and information about the encounter on Twitter. Mr. Trudeau later confirmed it.

The original phrase was uttered by then-prime-minister Pierre Trudeau when a CBC reporter asked him how far he would go in suspending civil liberties during the 1970 October Crisis.

Of course, in order to get a chance to beat Mr. Harper in an election, Justin Trudeau has to secure the Liberal leadership. Mr. Trudeau is the clear frontrunner in the race, according to internal polls made public by former leadership contender Marc Garneau when he left the race.

Though almost 300,000 members and supporters signed up to choose the new leader, less than half will be able to vote in the leadership election in April.