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With voting under way, Trudeau expects 55 per cent support or more in Liberal leadership race

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau makes his way to the stage during the 2013 Liberal Leadership National Showcase in Toronto on Saturday, April 6, 2013.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justin Trudeau's team is expecting to win the Liberal leadership on the first ballot, attracting between 55 and 65 per cent of the vote.

Voting started Saturday after the six candidates, including front-runner Mr. Trudeau, delivered their final speeches at a national showcase held in Toronto.

The speeches and tribute to outgoing interim leader Bob Rae were the final event of a six-month campaign. The winner is to be announced in Ottawa on April 14.

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Nova Scotia MP Geoff Regan cast the first ballot at a kiosk at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He was one of 700 who have already cast their votes, of the 127,126 Liberals registered. In an effort to be open and transparent, the Liberal Party has the numbers up on its website, even showing the results by province.

Voters have until 3 p.m. ET on Sunday April 14, to cast their preferential ballot (ranking candidates in order of preference) by phone or on-line. About 1,000 supporters are expected to gather at a downtown Ottawa hotel for the results at 5 p.m. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who was not at the Toronto event, is slated to speak in Ottawa.

Mr. Trudeau is considered to be way out in front. But he's not taking it for granted - he plans to remain in Toronto for a few days to work the phones, calling potential voters and asking for support. He also will be calling campaign workers to encourage them to keep up the momentum. Other candidates will surely be doing the same.

This is the first time the national party has held a leadership this way. It's brand-new territory and there have been mixed reviews about Saturday's event, which was billed as a "mini-convention" with buttons, signs, t-shirts and other election swag.

But it didn't have quite the excitement and drama of the traditional delegated convention, nor were there the usual hospitality suites where plotting and strategizing go on well into the night. Instead, Mr. Trudeau and other candidates, such as Martha Hall Findlay, had a party after Saturday's event.

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