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Andrew Ikeman | News Editor

IF I WAS on Justin Trudeau’s campaign team, I would be worried for my job. This past weekend Trudeau made a stop in the riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell just outside of Ottawa. Trudeau then spoke words no one in the Liberal party, except those who want to see his leadership bid fail, wanted to hear.

“The long-gun registry, as it was, was a failure, and I’m not going to resuscitate that,” said Trudeau.

Come on, man, haven’t you learned anything from football? When you’re up big, just run the ball out and don’t do anything stupid. In politics, when you’re playing with a big lead, it’s tempting to want to introduce new ideas or say something controversial, but you just have to rein it in. If you want to come out against the gun registry, fine, but can you at least do it after you win? Or how about you don’t do it in Russell, while appearing to pander to rural voters. For Trudeau, who has historically supported the registry, this is a huge reversal on his previous stances, and it does not bode well for him.

Last week, comments Trudeau made about Alberta’s politicians in 2010 were brought up and cited as a possible reason why the Liberals finished second in the Calgary Centre byelection. Trudeau cannot afford any more major gaffes if his leadership contention is to be taken seriously.

Trudeau would have this race in the bag if it were not for these lapses in judgment. Most polls have him up by a significant margin, with approval for Trudeau higher than any other leader of a federal party.

I have a very simple solution for Trudeau’s foot-in-mouth problem: Shut up. You are playing with a lead; you are likely going to be crowned the next Liberal leader, so just shut up. I’m not saying stop campaigning, but stop making controversial statements about policy when what you should be doing is releasing one big policy manual—similar to the vaunted Liberal Red Book of the 1990s—and then just hyping it up. Talk about it. Talk about what’s in it. Don’t talk about things not contained in this policy manual.

You have to think before you speak on the campaign trail. Every single word out of the candidate’s mouth needs to be carefully crafted and thought out. Trudeau, who would have had strong support in Quebec, has likely lost that, and will unlikely gain any rural following. It’s funny: even though the latest polls suggest the Liberals would win the next election with Trudeau as the leader, his gaffes are making it harder and harder for him to even be elected leader of the party. While there have only been two slip-ups so far—the other statement about Alberta was made in 2010—the Trudeau campaign needs to batten down the hatches.

There are still five months remaining in the race, and that is a lot of time to campaign—but when it comes to announcements like the one you made last week, Trudeau, maybe it’s best if you just hold your tongue.