Liberal leadership candidates gear up for first debate

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau speaks in Sudbury, Ont. on December 20, 2012....

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau speaks in Sudbury, Ont. on December 20, 2012. (JOHN LAPPA/QMI Agency)

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 8:05 PM ET

OTTAWA - Nine federal Liberal leadership contestants brushed up on policies and sharpened their barbs as they readied for the race's first debate of five set for Sunday in Vancouver.

And the digs were being aimed at perceived front-runner Justin Trudeau even before the candidates crowded onto the stage.

Vancouver MP Joyce Murray and Kevin Chalmers, campaign manager for David Bertschi, were quick to underscore on Saturday the debate was about showing off policy chops -- and not a charm contest.

"This has to be about policy, not personality," Murray said, adding she expected a lively discussion between the candidates, especially about her proposal for a one-time agreement between the Grits and their NDP and Green Party rivals to put forward candidates with the best chance of beating Conservatives in the next election.


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