Justin Trudeau is in, but who will take the plunge along with him?

Trudeau’s run for the Liberal leadership has whittled down the list of other interested candidates. At this stage, it appears unlikely that the 2013 leadership convention will have as impressive a line-up as the 2006 version. A poll released last week by Harris-Decima for The Canadian Press showed that Trudeau was head and shoulders above all other potential candidates, with 36 per cent of Canadians saying they would be certain or likely to vote Liberal with him at the helm.

Certainly, polls of all Canadians this early in the contest have only so much to say. But Thomas Mulcair led in every NDP leadership poll and went on to win.

Marc Garneau, Liberal MP for a Montreal riding and former astronaut, is likely to be the main adversary to Trudeau. He managed 18 per cent in the Harris-Decima poll. He has expressed his willingness to run despite Trudeau’s front-runner status. If the race does indeed end up being a face-off between Garneau and Trudeau it could be a boon to the Liberal Party’s fortunes in Quebec, though both have higher profiles nationwide than they do among francophones in the province.

While Garneau is unlikely to build the kind of momentum that Trudeau now enjoys, he could be a compromise candidate if Trudeau does not perform as some Liberals hope. Stéphane Dion and Dalton McGuinty both won their party’s leadership unexpectedly. Garneau could grow into the role as McGuinty did, but he does not seem to be the kind of leader who could pull the party out of its third-place position. He has the personality to instead run a principled, reasonable centrist party that could play a similar role to that of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom.

Mark Carney placed third in the Harris-Decima poll with 16 per cent of Canadians saying they would be certain or likely to vote for a Carney-led Liberal Party, but there is no real indication that he is actually interested in the job. If he did decide to run he would be a strong contender, but his low score in this poll suggests he is not the juggernaut that some have made him out to be.

Denis Coderre, at 15 per cent, placed fourth in the poll but is far more likely to be a candidate for the mayoralty of Montreal. A recent survey put him as the front-runner in the city’s next election, and with the problems that Gérald Tremblay is currently having with the Charbonneau corruption inquiry the timing is perfect for Coderre to swoop-in as the city’s saviour.

Behind these four was Gerard Kennedy, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 leadership race. He had a higher profile at the time, having just resigned as an up-and-coming cabinet minister in Ontario’s government. He is now a defeated MP with low visibility, but he could be another compromise candidate if he decides to run.

David McGuinty, Martha Hall Findlay, Martin Cauchon and Joyce Murray — all potential candidates — did more poorly in Harris-Decima’s poll and, if any of them do run, they will need to impress a lot of people to have a chance. But they are all capable of challenging Trudeau and giving members an alternative choice to Garneau.

More candidates may emerge from the woodwork as the official launch of the race in mid-November approaches. But with the list of quality candidates shrinking — not growing — the odds are very good that Trudeau will retain his front-runner status straight through to April.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

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  • Liberal Leadership Race 2013

    Here are the remaining candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

  • Justin Trudeau

    Age: 40 Occupation: MP for Montreal-area riding of Papineau <a href="http://justin.ca/en/">Website</a>

  • Joyce Murray

    Age: 58 Occupation: Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, former B.C. Liberal environment minister <a href="http://joycemurray.liberal.ca/">Website</a>

  • Martha Hall Findlay

    Age: 53 Occupation: Former Liberal MP for Willowdale and 2006 leadership candidate <a href="http://www.marthahallfindlay.ca/">Website</a>

  • Martin Cauchon

    Age: 50 Occupation: Lawyer, former Montreal Liberal MP <a href="http://martincauchon.ca/">Website</a>

  • Deborah Coyne

    Age: 57 Occupation: Lawyer, professor <a href="http://www.deborahcoyne.ca/">Website</a>

  • Karen McCrimmon

    Occupation: A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian forces and mediator. <a href="http://karenforcanada.ca/" target="_hplink">Website</a>

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  • 14. Canada's Paris Hilton

    "His resume is paper thin. He's truly the Paris Hilton. He was born into money, and a name, and that's about all he's done." - <a href="http://blogs.canoe.ca/lilleyspad/general/video-levant-and-lilley-on-trudeaumania-part-2/">Ezra Levant</a> (2:50 in video)

  • 13. Maygan Sensenberger?

    "Maybe Justin Trudeau won’t be Maygan Sensenberger to the Liberals’ Rod Zimmer. Maybe there’s a hidden depth beneath that glib exterior. Maybe he’s more mature than the MP with the Johnny Depp moustache who called the environment minister a 'piece of shit' during a heated moment in the House of Commons, and suggested that if Canada’s going to go the way of Stephen Harper 'maybe I would think about making Quebec a country.'" - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>

  • 12. Curious Attire

    "Nothing riles Liberals more than the accusation that Justin’s nothing more than an empty suit – or whatever you call his often curious attire." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>

  • 11. Adolescent Machismo

    "I found last March’s boxing match between Justin and a Conservative Senator to have been an embarrassing descent into adolescent machismo." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>

  • 10. Delicate Princeling

    <i>On a protest in Toronto against the anti-Islam film the "Innocence of Muslims."</i> "You’d have thought that if a vigorous objection would be coming from anywhere, it would be coming from the Liberal Party of Canada. It didn’t, and it is even less likely that it soon will, now that the delicate princeling Justin Trudeau has unofficially declared his odds-on-favourite candidacy for the party leadership." - <a href="http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/only+Canada+liberal+party/7304311/story.html">Terry Glavin</a>

  • 9. Dabbler

    "Justin Trudeau is a dabbler – he dabbled in teaching, dabbled in the arts, dabbled in acting, dabbled in activism. Now he’s dabbling in politics." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>

  • 8. Handsome Young Thing A Bad Thing?

    "After running the country for most of the 20th century it’s morphing into the Lindsay Lohan of Canadian politics, constantly vowing to clean up its act, only to wake up with a headache and another charge on its rap sheet. The Liberals aren’t into drugs that I know of, but after three failed marriages, a stint in rehab and with its overall health in decline, it pledged to undertake a serious effort to re-establish itself as a mature, dependable party. Instead it’s plunging shamelessly into an affair with the handsome young thing with the dynamite hair." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>

  • 7. Thin Résumé, Low Bar

    "Mr. Trudeau brings a thin résumé. He has youth, a storied name, decent smarts and a certain something that makes people like him. That this may be enough speaks volumes about how low the bar is set for the job of Liberal leader." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/if-trudeau-leads-will-liberals-follow/article4570953/">John Ibbitson</a>

  • 6. That Johnny Depp Beard Again

    "A high school teacher when he wore a cropped version of a Johnny Depp beard, Justin reached out to the country only once before, at his father’s funeral: voicing the most poignant of the elegies, ending his prayer with the heart-rending, 'Je t’aime, papa.' Prayers will come in handy should he be charged with rescuing the Liberals, who haven’t been the country’s Natural Governing Party since Noah launched his ark." - <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/18/trudeaus-big-leap/">Peter C. Newman</a>

  • 5. Going The Way Of Mulroney

    "Unless Justin as leader applies some harsh medicine to the remnants of the Liberal party, he will end up like Ben Mulroney, hosting entertainment shows. (Already the politician, Justin invited Ben to his wedding to glamorous CTV talk show correspondent Sophie Grégoire.)" - <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/18/trudeaus-big-leap/">Peter C. Newman</a>

  • 4. Cowboy Campaign Slogan?

    "What do you want me to be? A cowboy? I can do that! No? Something else? Name it? I was a drama teacher, so I can totally be what you need." - <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/26/post-approved-campaign-posters-slogans-for-justin-trudeaus-liberal-leadership-bid/">Steve Murray </a>

  • 3. Cut From The Same Cloth

    "Justin Trudeau and Justin Bieber have more in common than just a first name. Both guys are also adored by legions of love struck fans. Except in the case of Bieber the fans are teenage girls, whereas for Trudeau they are the Canadian media." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/27/gerry-nicholls-dear-media-will-you-and-justin-get-a-room-please/">Gerry Nicholls</a>

  • 2. The Shiny Pony Enters Horserace

    "Outside the Commons Wednesday, the son of Canada's most over-rated and historically-revised PM, the Shiny Pony, as Sun News Network refers to him mockingly, had his media fan club giggling like groupies at a Justin Bieber concert." - <a href="http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/27/the-shiny-pony-enters-horserace">Sun News</a>

  • 1. Eulogy Maudlin, Sappy, Contrived

    "Eulogies aren’t easy, especially when they’re deeply personal. But I was among many who found his to be maudlin and sappy, contrived, almost embarrassing, the opposite of those who felt it soared to the heavens." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>