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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau introduces provincial Liberal byelection candidate Sandra Yeung Racco at her campaign office after speaking to supporters in Thornhill, Ont., on Thursday, January 16, 2014.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Of all the days for Justin Trudeau to lend his star power to their by-election candidate in Thornhill, the Ontario Liberals probably would have preferred it hadn't been one on which he was on the defensive about an embarrassing expense revelation.

Still, they're not about to complain. During the two local races currently underway, and more importantly in the run-up to a likely general election this spring, Kathleen Wynne's party will take as much of Mr. Trudeau as it can get.

The question, then, is how much of himself he's willing to give – something that will depend on the degree of mutual benefit that Mr. Trudeau and his team perceive in the relationship.

From the provincial crowd's perspective, it's pure upside. As evidenced by the support he offered the Nova Scotia Liberals leading up to their October election, Mr. Trudeau's current rock-star status can help other Liberals look more like change agents than they otherwise might. Such assistance is especially needed in Ontario, where Ms. Wynne needs help to try to make her government – currently in its 11th year in power – seem something other than stale.

For Mr. Trudeau, there is certainly some incentive as well. Despite the received wisdom that Ontarians prefer not to have the same party in power both federally and provincially, it would be to his organizational advantage to have the provincial Liberals remain strong in as many ridings as possible. Mr. Trudeau's campaign team is no doubt also aware that over the past couple of decades, strained relations between federal and provincial Liberals have at points prevented those resources from being shared as much as possible. So the more goodwill he can build, the better for all concerned.

Unlike for Ms. Wynne, however, there is at least some potential downside for Mr. Trudeau in forging a close affiliation.

Thus far, Mr. Trudeau and his strategists have been remarkably successful in building a brand around him – one that's all about being positive and fresh and a little different from other politicians.

Granted, it has not been tested by an election, nor even a competitive leadership campaign, and there are many good reasons to wonder how it will hold up to scrutiny. But in the meanwhile, he has to be strategic about protecting it and building it further.

If he's indiscriminate in who he lends it to, Mr. Trudeau could dilute that brand instead. So aligning himself with a government that has been in power for more than a decade and has spent the past couple of years mired in scandal runs some risk.

The fact that Ms. Wynne is relatively new to her job herself, and seems personally popular among many of the voters Mr. Trudeau will be targeting, might mitigate some of that danger. And in any event, the federal Liberal brain-trust could very reasonably decide that the importance of building up their party's infrastructure – virtually non-existent in many regards before Mr. Trudeau took over – merits making their leader available to virtually any Liberal who asks.

With Mr. Trudeau campaigning on Friday alongside the other Liberal by-election candidate in Niagara Falls, that latter consideration seems to be winning out for now. Ms. Wynne's party will hope it continues to do so for a few more months at least. A halo effect that somehow remains intact even on Mr. Trudeau's bad days looks mighty appealing to a government that struggles to win back Ontarians' affections even on its good ones.

Adam Radwanski is The Globe's columnist covering Ontario politics.

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