MONTEBELLO, Que. - As the federal Liberals ironed out rules Thursday for the contest that will see a new party leader picked by April 14, 2013, leadership hopefuls remained coy Thursday about their intentions.
Those intending to enter the race will have to pony up $75,000, and will be allowed to spend $950,000 on their campaign, according to new rules announced at the Liberal summer caucus on Thursday.
Candidates will also face a series of debates and a preferential vote, wrapping up at an Ottawa event on April 14.
Quebec MP Justin Trudeau, who has been skirting questions about his intentions until after campaign rules were set, continued to be uncommitted.
"My thought process (this summer) was spending a lot of time with my family and thinking about the kind of world I want to raise my kids in," Trudeau said.
The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau suggested he doesn't want to be portrayed as a possible saviour for the struggling Grits, who were overwhelmingly rejected in the last federal election.
"Liberals have always looked for the right leader that's going to fix everything for them," he said, but they don't understand "there is a tremendous amount of work" to rebuild the party.
When Liberals were reduced to third-party status in the 2011 election - its worst showing in its history - pundits questioned the party's survival and stressed the importance of selecting a solid leader.
Interim leader Bob Rae will stay on until April but he says he isn't ready to throw in the towel yet.
"My job is not over," he said. "Right now I'm not looking at the sunset yet."
Other potential leadership candidates include MPs Marc Garneau, David McGuinty and Daniel LeBlanc.
At the party's convention earlier this year, Liberals voted to determine that "supporters" of the Liberals can now cast a ballot but they will not be required to pay membership fees.
"We already have attracted more than 20,000 supporters ... We expect that number to increase substantially as leadership candidates get out there," party president Mike Crawley said.
In 2006, candidates had to shell out a refundable fee of $50,000 and had a spending cap of $3.4 million. As result, several hopefuls accumulated enormous debts and many have gone unpaid. An Ontario court nixed requests to extend the payback period for three failed candidates from the 2006 race this summer.