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Justin Trudeau maintains a would-be candidate who was barred from running for the Liberal party has only herself to blame.

Christine Innes has launched a $1.5-million libel suit against the Liberal leader and his Ontario campaign co-chair, David MacNaughton, for alleging that bullying and intimidation tactics employed by her campaign were behind the decision to block her candidacy.

But in a statement of defence filed in court, lawyers for Trudeau and MacNaughton say any damage to Innes' reputation was "a direct result of her own conduct."

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They say Innes was repeatedly warned that aggressive campaign tactics used by her team – and specifically by her husband, former MP Tony Ianno – were unacceptable but she did nothing to rein them in.

Indeed, they argue that the bullying continued after Innes was barred from running, with one young volunteer who had complained to the party about Ianno's conduct being pressured to recant.

Innes' lawyer, David Sterns, says the statement of defence is "all muckraking," full of innuendo based on flimsy complaints from anonymous volunteers.

None of the allegations by Innes, Trudeau or MacNaughton have been tested in court.

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