OTTAWA - It's no more Mr. Nice Guy.
With two months to go in the Liberal leadership race, Marc Garneau - known for his mild manner - went on the attack Wednesday against frontrunner Justin Trudeau.
And he took specific aim at Trudeau's weak spot - the charge the young politician is all charisma and no substance.
"As Liberals, we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for," he told reporters at in Ottawa.
"Justin has stated that now is not the time to tell Liberals, to tell Canadians, where he stands and what his plan is for the country. He has said he will do that after the Liberal leadership race - sometime before the next election in 2015. In my opinion, this is the same as asking Canadians to buy a new car without test-driving it first."
The son of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau is a clear frontrunner in terms of fundraising, social media reach, caucus support and media buzz.
In contrast, Garneau is widely viewed as a distant second-place contestant in the race to head the third-place party, but one with the gravitas and policy depth that Trudeau is seen to lack. His resume includes a stint as a navy officer, an astronaut and the head of the Canadian Space Agency.
During the campaign Trudeau has offered some insights into where he stands on topics like oilsands development, gun control, electoral reform and the Senate.
Garneau dismissed those comments as Trudeau chasing the topics of the day.
"I am doing the Liberal Party a big favour by bringing this up," he said.
"The last three leaders we picked, when they were elected as leader, they were ahead in the polls," he said, referring to Paul Martin, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.
"It didn't work. We can't make the same mistake again. We need to define where we stand."
The leadership hopeful denied that raising the "difficult questions" had anything to do with giving his own campaign a boost, though he took the time to underscore his policy planks on "the knowledge economy, trade, telecommunications, Western Canada and electoral reform."
Trudeau responded late Wednesday, saying he was "very proud of the campaign I've run" and he's "dropped a lot of substance and (will) continue to."
But his campaign is also about "involving Canadians and reinvigorating the relationship between Canadians and their politics in general."