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Trudeau promotes star Liberal recruits

Justin Trudeau has vowed that anyone who wants to run for the Liberal party in the next election, himself included, will have to win a fair, open nomination contest.

But that doesn't mean he won't try to influence the outcome of those contests.

Indeed, his marked preference for certain contenders has created murmurs of discontent at the Liberal convention, where the leader's hand-picked star recruits have been on prominent display.

Privately, some Liberals grumble that Trudeau is tipping the scales by promoting his favoured contenders.

Jeremy Broadhurst, the party's national director and a member of Trudeau's inner circle, doesn't deny it.

"A commitment to a fair and open process doesn't mean an indifference to the outcomes," he said in an interview Saturday.

Trudeau has gone to some effort to recruit potential star candidates, people of intellectual heft and sterling economic credentials whose presence on the Liberal team he hopes will dispel qualms about his fitness to be prime minister.

And he's making no secret that he'd like them to win their respective nominations.

"He is going out and recruiting people to be part of that team ... and I don't think it's unusual for him to say, 'I hope this person runs and I want that person in the caucus,'" said Broadhurst.

"But he's been exceedingly clear with all of them that there is a first step in the process and it's you go to your local community and you get their support to be the candidate."

"I don't think there is a problem with him having a preference," Broadhurst added, "as long as that preference doesn't in any way impact the way we run those (nomination) races."

He said no one is more committed to wide open, fair nomination contests than Trudeau.

Retired general Andrew Leslie, who is expected to run in Ottawa-Orleans and has been named a special adviser to Trudeau on military and foreign affairs, took his star turn with a well-received keynote speech Friday. When it was over, Trudeau mounted the stage to give him a big hug.

On Saturday, the lineup of speakers included Jim Carr, former president of the Business Council of Manitoba; Bill Morneau, Toronto-based head of the country's largest human resources consulting company and chair of the C.D. Howe Institute; and Jody Wilson-Raybould, Assembly of First Nations regional chief for British Columbia.

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