Canada Liberals set to crown Trudeau scion

OTTAWA, April 14 Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:17am EDT

OTTAWA, April 14 (Reuters) - Canada's glamorous rising political star, Justin Trudeau, was set to capture the leadership of the Liberal Party on Sunday and begin contesting seven years of Conservative rule.

The 41-year-old son of the swashbuckling former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin is the overwhelming favorite in the election, with results due on Sunday evening.

Trudeau campaigned largely on a message of hope, similar to that on which Barack Obama campaigned in the United States, and said detailed policy pronouncements will come later, ahead of a federal election due in 2015.

"What Justin Trudeau is benefiting from is probably having the right message at the right times in terms of a swing back to less hyperbole and negativism," said Nik Nanos of polling firm Nanos Research.

Trudeau will be the Liberals' seventh leader in the last decade, including two interim bosses, compared with just two leaders between 1919 and 1958.

That reflects the harder times facing the party, which ran Canada for two-thirds of the 20th century.

In the 2011 election, the Liberals fell to third place for the first time, behind the Conservatives on the right and the New Democrats on the left.

But opinion polls show a Liberal Party led by Trudeau would overtake both the NDP and the Conservatives, amid voter fatigue at the ruling party.

Trudeau, a former teacher, is 12 years younger than Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 17 years younger than Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP.

A Nanos survey distributed on Thursday had Trudeau eclipsing Mulcair on most leadership indicators and coming in within striking distance of Harper. And a Nanos poll released on Friday had the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives 35.4 percent to 31.3 percent.

Trudeau favors legalization of marijuana and some form of carbon pricing. He opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline to take oil from Alberta to British Columbia, on the grounds that it would cross pristine wilderness, but does not oppose the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States.

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