Former prime minister John Turner says the once-mighty Liberal Party must rebuild from the bottom up and the middle out – and he believes Justin Trudeau is a solid contender to lead the charge.
Turner, who served in various cabinet posts including the justice and finance portfolios, led the Liberals for six years and served briefly as prime minister in 1984. At 38 years old, he was younger than Justin Trudeau is now when he made his first run for the leadership against Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
"Justin Trudeau's a legitimate candidate," he told Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics, adding that the young politician will still need to prove his worth in a fair contest. "It's hard to evaluate. He'll have to prove himself in an open leadership convention – as will others."
Turner is optimistic the Liberals can reinvigorate and rebuild – despite past divisions and lingering scars from the sponsorship scandal.
"We as Liberals knew what we stood for: we were fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We were a party that embraced the middle of the political spectrum with very specific ideas," he said. "What we need now is a revitalized policy, a new generation in political ranks and in Parliament. We need a strengthening of our riding associations – at the riding level, not imposed by leadership."
His advice to the next leader?
"Build from the bottom up, not the top down," he told Solomon.
But as Turner remains hopeful for the future of the Liberal Party, he's less enthused about the state of parliamentary democracy in Canada. He's lashing out at an erosion of the system – most recently reflected in the government's omnibus budget implementation bill.
"This omnibus bill surrounded the budget – you couldn't even see the budget anymore. It was an attempt to smuggle a lot of legislation under the feature of the priority of the budget," he said.
"It wasn't parliamentary, it wasn't democratic. It didn't allow for good debate. It didn't allow for questions and answers. It was just demagoguery under the guise of a parliamentary institution called the budget."
The omnibus budget implementation bill, which raises the age of Old Age Security, revamps the rules for Employment Insurance and overhauls fisheries and environmental assessment regimes, is expected to go to the Senate Wednesday.
While Turner conceded the erosion of parliamentary democracy has evolved over time, he insists control has never been as strong or as centred as under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"It is not helpful to parliament – in fact it is harmful and therefore harmful to our democracy," he said.
Surprising Justin Trudeau Facts
With talk of Trudeau making a bid for the Liberal leadership reaching a fever pitch (again), HuffPost takes a look at some surprising facts about Canada's perpetual PM-in-waiting. (CP)
11. Politics On Mother's Side Too
Trudeau's maternal grandfather <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Sinclair_(politician)" target="_hplink">James Sinclair</a> was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in Louis St.-Laurent's government in the 1950s. (House of Commons) <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide incorrectly said Sinclair was a Progressive Conservative MP.</em>
10. Born In Office
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau was only the second child ever to be born while a parent was prime minister</a>. The first was John A. Macdonald's youngest daughter Margaret Mary Macdonald. Trudeau's younger brothers, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel were the third and fourth. (CP)
9. Educated Enough?
Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. He also studied engineering at the Université de Montréal and environmental geography at McGill, but never finished degrees in those fields.
8. Enemies To Friends
While fathers Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau were rivals, sons Justin and Ben are friends. Mulroney attended Trudeau's wedding to Sophie Grégoire. Grégoire has worked as Quebec correspondent for CTV's eTalk, which is hosted by Mulroney. (CP)
7. Let Them Eat Anything But Cake
Trudeau didn't have cake at his wedding, with <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Sophie arguing that people never eat it anyway</a>. (Shutterstock)
6. Born On Christmas
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau entered the world on December 25, 1971</a>.
5. Two Tattoos In One
Trudeau has a large tattoo on his left shoulder. <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/justinpjtrudeau/statuses/179973685136998400" target="_hplink">The planet Earth inside a Haida raven</a>. Trudeau got the globe tattoo when he was 23 and the raven when he turned 40. (Media Ball)
4. Keeping It In The Family
Trudeau and his wife Sophie have two children, Xavier James (4) and Ella-Grace Margaret (3). Both are partially named after family.<a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/4970--the-littlest-trudeau" target="_hplink"> Xavier James is named after Trudeau's maternal grandfather James Sinclair</a> (the politician) and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Gr%C3%A9goire" target="_hplink">Ella-Grace Margaret is named after Trudeau's mother Margaret and Grace Elliot, Trudeau's paternal grandmother</a>. Xavier also happens to share a birthday with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (CP)
3. Politician And Actor
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0846011/" target="_hplink">Trudeau played Talbot Mercer Papineau</a> in the 2007 CBC miniseries "The Great War."
2. .. And Video Game Star
<a href="http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/06/in-deus-ex-justin-trudeau-is-the-pm-and-canada-has-a-problem-with-illegal-immigrants-from-the-u-s/" target="_hplink">Trudeau is prime minister in the dystopian future portrayed in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution</a>. (CP)
1. Childhood Sweathearts
Sophie used to visit the Trudeau family home when she was a child. She was a classmate and friend of Trudeau's youngest brother Michel, who died tragically in a B.C. avalanche in 1998. Justin and Sophie made contact again at a fundraiser in 2003 and soon after began dating. <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Trudeau was so smitten</a> that he declared they would spend the rest of their lives together on the very first date. (CP)