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Justin Trudeau speaks at the federal Liberal leadership showcase in Toronto on April 6, 2013. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Justin Trudeau speaks at the federal Liberal leadership showcase in Toronto on April 6, 2013. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

How Justin Trudeau plans to beat Stephen Harper Add to ...

What to do with party veterans Bob Rae and Ralph Goodale, especially if they plan to run again in the next election? Where to place supporters Dominic LeBlanc and Scott Brison? What happens to leadership rivals Joyce Murray and Marc Garneau? Which new faces to promote?

Mr. Trudeau will have lots of choices as he puts his stamp on his caucus, made up of 34 other MPs and 36 senators. He is currently slotted in the position of critic for amateur sport, so his eventual victory will not create a big hole to fill. Still, he will need to strike a careful balance between putting a new face on his parliamentary team and ensuring that veteran performers are put to good use and form a united front behind their new leader.

4. Develop an approach to Quebec to increase support there

He is a son of the province, but Mr. Trudeau is also an enemy of the Quebec sovereignty movement, putting him in a tight spot among the nationalist electorate that has a large sway in francophone ridings.

Mr. Trudeau supports the Constitution that was left behind by his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, leaving him a political outsider in many parts of the province, especially with elites. In that context, Mr. Trudeau will need to portray his overall values and priorities as being in touch and in sync with those of most Quebeckers. Any victory for Mr. Trudeau in 2015 will depend on his ability to increase the Liberal haul of seats in Quebec, where it currently holds eight ridings out of 75. His adversary on that front will be NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who is trying to position himself as the prime-minister-in-waiting. Expect Mr. Trudeau to continue to reach out to Quebeckers by saying he will continue to listen to their concerns and inviting them to participate in the federal government.

5. Flesh out Liberal policy after hearing from party members

The Liberal Party of Canada will organize a convention in 2014. The next meeting of the party will offer the perfect occasion for Mr. Trudeau to flesh out the thin policy offering that formed the heart of his leadership campaign. Mr. Trudeau has outlined a number of broad strokes and values that would guide him in office, namely a focus on education, free trade, improving the lot of the middle class and saving the environment.

However, the Trudeau camp made a deliberate calculation that it was best to avoid revealing his plan too early in the game, both to avoid opening himself up to attacks and to allow Liberals to get involved in the policy-making process. When Liberals gather in about a year’s time, they will be able to shape and approve the policy platform that will guide Mr. Trudeau’s first election campaign as Liberal leader, and try to put an end to the attacks against his supposedly lightweight agenda. However, the policy development process will be broader, with a full platform having to wait until closer to the election date.

6. Make sure riding associations are ready for open nominations

All 338 Liberal candidates in the next election campaign will be selected through open nomination processes, including Mr. Trudeau in the riding of Papineau and all other sitting Liberal MPs. Mr. Trudeau has pledged not to use his powers to appoint anyone, although he could well provide his support to star candidates whom he attracts to the party in key ridings.

The situation means that Mr. Trudeau needs to ensure that all riding associations are up and running across the country as soon as possible, and ready to select their standard-bearers for 2015. The job of attracting quality candidates will be easier if the party continues its strong performance in public-opinion polls, but the Liberals still face an uphill battle in many parts of the country.

7. Win two crucial by-elections, electoral tests for the party

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