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Justin Trudeau plays ShamWow pitchman for indebted Liberals

Stephane Dion is congratulated by Justin Trudeau and Gerard Kennedy upon his election as Liberal leader in Montreal on Dec. 2, 2006.

Simon Hayter/Getty Images

Justin Trudeau is pitching a couple of Christmas gift ideas to help out some of his political pals.

The Montreal Liberal MP is asking friends and supporters for funds to pay off the 2006 leadership campaign debt of two of his colleagues - Ken Dryden and Gerard Kennedy.

And it can be done by buying these fabulous gifts: a skate with Mr. Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens superstar goalie, and/or a numbered personalized limited edition pencil sketch of Lester B. Pearson by Mr. Kennedy.

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Mr. Dryden still owes $285,000 from his leadership bid attempt and has until June 30, 2012 to pay it all off. Mr. Kennedy - who spent $1.4-million on his campaign - owes about $75,000, which he hopes to pay off within the next month or two.

"If you're still looking to find the perfect holiday gift for family and friends, look no further," Mr. Trudeau writes in an email circulated far and wide to Liberals. It was sanctioned by the party.

"Gerard Kennedy and Ken Dryden have a couple of gift offers your friends or loved ones will never forget," he adds. Mr. Trudeau had been one of Mr. Kennedy's key leadership delegates in 2006, at which point he had not yet entered politics himself.

But that's not all.

"What's more, by giving one of these unique gifts, you'll also be helping to retire the remaining leadership debt of two of my good friends and colleagues," Mr. Trudeau writes. So, for $1,000 you can buy a ticket to a "once in a lifetime experience," he says.

The former prime minister's son is tenacious in his pitch, noting that after the tax credit the ticket really only costs you $441.67. That "experience" involves skating with Ken Dryden and "friends" [former Habs teammates]at Montreal's Bell Centre on Feb. 20, 2011.

Mr. Trudeau notes that the only other time Mr. Dryden has skated at the Bell Centre was the evening of the Habs 100th anniversary game, when he wore goalie Carey Price's pads. Brunch is thrown in as is a tour of the Canadiens' Hall of Fame.

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A spokesman in Mr. Dryden's office says the Toronto MP has done numerous fundraisers for other colleagues, so it's his turn now.

And there's more.

For a contribution of $250 - with the tax credit it will only cost you $62.50 - you can receive a signed copy of the Pearson sketch. Mr. Kennedy says he will also "personalize" the inscription if you want.

He drew the image of the late prime minister during the 2006 campaign, while driving in a car through the La Mauricie national park. He said he was out of cellphone range so spent a couple of hours on the portrait; the original was auctioned to raise money for the party.

Mr. Kennedy told The Globe he has always doodled and drew political cartoons at university.

"It's kind of a Liberal unity thing," said Mr. Kennedy, who has done about 250 events for the party since the leadership. "The Pearson era was at a time when we were in a minority and there were ups and downs and I think most people would say ... we did fairly well at getting things done."

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"It's kind of a nice touchstone."

Adds Mr. Trudeau in his letter: "With either of these memorable gifts, you will make this holiday season one your family and friends will never forget."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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