OTTAWA (Reuters) - The son of former Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau will have a chance to punch a Conservative senator in the mouth on Saturday night and get away with it.
Justin Trudeau, an opposition Liberal member of Parliament, will go toe to toe in a boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, a pony-tailed Algonquin Indian who once served as national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
Trudeau had laid down the gauntlet to other members of the governing Conservative Party, including Defense Minister Peter MacKay, until finally Brazeau agreed to take him on.
“I was sort of surprised it was as difficult as it was to find a Conservative across the aisle in the House not willing to punch me in the face. I suspect that more of them would have wanted to,” Trudeau told CTV news.
Trudeau’s father, the flamboyant prime minister from 1968-79 and 1980-84, had arranged boxing lessons for his son, who is now 40. The boyish-looking MP - weighing in on Wednesday at 180 pounds (82 kg) and 6 feet 2 inches - looks somewhat scrawnier than the tale of the tape would suggest.
Brazeau, 37, is stockier with huge arms and thighs. Even his tattoo dwarfs Trudeau‘s, extending shoulder to elbow. He tipped the scales at 183 pounds (83 kg), not much more than Trudeau, but his weight is packed into a shorter, 5 foot 10 inch frame.
“If Justin has never been hit by an 18-wheel truck, when he wakes up on April 1, that’s how he’s going to feel,” Brazeau quipped on Sun News TV. A black belt in karate, he said he planned to work on what he called Trudeau’s “very feeble ribs.”
Trudeau acknowledges his underdog status but his superior height and long arms give him a reach advantage, and he is more of a strategic boxer who relies on speed.
“I’ve got a game plan I‘m going to stick to,” he said. “I hope to demonstrate that we Trudeaus are tougher than people think.”
The match - a fund-raiser for a cancer charity - will go for three rounds of two minutes each. The boxers will wear protective head gear, and under Olympic rules, they will win points on the basis of the number of clean blows each lands, rather than how hard punches are thrown.
The battle of the parliamentary pugilists has inevitably drawn the analogies of the Conservative right hook and the Liberal left jab. The winner will be obliged to wear a jersey bearing the logo of the opponent’s party.
Trudeau has often been touted as a future leader of the Liberal Party, which is now in third place in the House of Commons. He stirred up a hornet’s nest last month by speculating about backing Quebec separatism if Canada moved too far right.
Reporting by Randall Palmer