Justin Trudeau is heading toward a convincing first-round victory in the Liberal leadership race, according to a poll of party supporters done by the newly retired candidate Marc Garneau.
Mr. Garneau announced on Wednesday that he is quitting the race, offering his support to the person that he said will no doubt win the crown on April 14.
During the race, Mr. Garneau frequently went on the offensive and denounced Mr. Trudeau's lack of experience and the dearth of policy proposals in his campaign. As he left the race, however, Mr. Garneau said that Mr. Trudeau had "risen to the occasion" and showed clear leadership skills.
Still, Mr. Garneau did not go out of his way to praise his chief rival's abilities.
"From a logic point of view, I came to the conclusion that I could not win, because Justin was going to win," he said. "I am, from a logic point of view, a loyal solider, and I will support the leader, and that leader will be Justin Trudeau."
Mr. Garneau said that he has polled 50,000 party supporters on their leadership preferences, and obtained answers from 6,000 of them. He said that the numbers showed that Mr. Trudeau was heading for 72-per-cent support, well ahead of himself (15 per cent), Liberal MP Joyce Murray (7.4 per cent) and former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay (5.2 per cent).
"Numbers don't lie," he said. "I believe in math. I'm not into denial."
Mr. Garneau said that financial issues were not a problem for his campaign. He said that he will continue to make policy proposals, including pushing initiatives dealing with the economy.
He did not back away from his past criticism of Mr. Trudeau's experience, saying that Liberal supporters have clearly expressed their views about the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Garneau added that his criticism was always constructive, and that as a Liberal, the time has arrived to rally around the party's next leader.
"I've always believed in a vigorous race," he said. "Justin has risen to the occasion, certainly from everything that I have read about how people viewed all that."