CALGARY - Liberal MP Justin Trudeau looked very much like a man intent on seeking the leadership of the federal Liberal party as he donned a cowboy hat, boots and jeans and pressed the flesh at a Calgary Stampede pancake breakfast Saturday.
Trudeau worked his way down the long line of pancake enthusiasts at a Liberal breakfast, speaking to each individual and posing for photos.
But he told reporters it shouldn't be seen as campaigning and was something he does at all public events.
"If you guys had been to see me at any other Stampede breakfasts over the years I do the exact same thing because for me someone who chooses to be a Liberal in Calgary isn't doing it because it makes them popular," he said with a chuckle.
"They do it because they believe in it. And for me recognizing that and congratulating people for that is important to me."
That being said the Montreal MP and eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau acknowledges that running for the leadership is very much on his mind.
"I have to make sure I have the substance I bring forward and you guys will find out at the end of the summer, beginning of fall if I've decided and not before," Trudeau said.
A poll from The Canadian Press Harris-Decima released last month suggests 33 per cent of Canadians would be likely or certain to vote Liberal with Trudeau at the helm.
"I'm aware that there's a certain popularity factor out there but that's not the centre of any decision I have to make," he said.
"The centre I have to make is a very personal one. Can I manage to be a good father while being a good leader and eventually a good prime minister first and foremost and also am I the right person for the job? Do I have the capacity to lead in the way that people seem to think I do?"
Trudeau said a renewal of the party will centre on reminding Canadians that the Liberals have the ability to take the middle ground and speak on behalf of everyone. He called NDP Leader Tom Mulcair the "flipside" of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He said both leaders have polarized the country and are pitting region against region.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said he is comfortable with his decision not to seek the leadership.
"When I agreed to become the interim leader I said I wouldn't run and on reflection I felt that was the best path to take. It was important for the party to renew itself and move forward and look to others to fill the permanent job," said Rae.
A new leader will be chosen in the first half of 2013. Rae isn't planning to weigh in on what he wants to see in a new head of the party.
"There's not going to be any hidden messages from me about the leadership. The party has to make the decision in a completely independent way from me," he said.
"I think the approach that gives it some integrity is the fact that we don't know who's going to run, we don't know who's going to win."
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