Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau,will run for the Liberalsin the Montreal riding of Papineau.

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Justin Trudeau celebrates the results of the vote to select the Liberal candidate for Montreal's Papineau riding on Sunday. ((Peter McCabe/Canadian Press))

Party members in the east-end Montreal riding gave Trudeau, 35,a slim victory on Sunday for the nomination over two rivals on the first ballot.

Needing 634 votes to win, he received 690 from voting members, or 54 per cent. His two opponents, Montreal city councillor Mary Deros and former city councillor Basilio Giordano received 350 and 220 respectively.

"For me, to represent people who represent the future of Canada and the great challenges we will face over the coming decades — this is where I wanted to start," Trudeau said after his victory.

His opponents had complained that Trudeau — whose first home was 24 Sussex Drive and who grew up in luxury — had no connection with the gritty, blue-collar Papineau district.

But the former drama teacher suspended his current university studies and spent several weeks hitting the pavement, selling memberships and getting to know local leaders.

Trudeau isattempting to begin his political career in a riding currently held by Bloc Québécois MP Vivian Barbot.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Sunday he called Trudeau to offer his congratulations. Dion said Trudeau will be an asset for the party.

In his victory speech, Trudeau invoked the legacy of his famous father,and drew parallels between his current fight and his father's career.

In the fall of 1965,he said,his father ran in the neighbouring Mount Royal riding, part ofwhich is now included in the Papineau district.

Trudeautold voting members that some of them helped nominate his father who eventually gave Canada one of the most evolved tools for human rights in the world — the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"What you were part of 40 years ago changed Canada forever," he said. "We are all children of the charter. You can understand how fiercely proud I am to be able to say that your prime minister was also my dad."

But Trudeau said his political dreams are based on ambitions, not nostalgia.

Tight race expected

Observers were expecting a tight three-way race among Trudeau and two political veterans Deros andGiordano, who is editor of an Italian-language newspaper.

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Justin Trudeau had to overcome criticism that he had no connection to the gritty blue-collar Papineau district. ((Peter McCabe/Canadian Press))

Various sources in the riding said the three candidates had each sold about 1,000 memberships.

Trudeau said a lot of people have mistaken impressions of what he's like from seeing him in the media. But since announcing his intentions in February, he has been meeting people on streets, trying to cultivate an image of someone who listens.

"I'm a teacher; I'm a convenor; I'm a gatherer; I'm someone who reaches out to people and is deeply interested in what they have to say," he said.

"And people see that I'm not faking it. I'm actually genuinely committed to this dialogue that we're opening up, and this understanding that needs to happen in order to be an effective MP."

Papineaua multicultural, working-class riding

For many in this ethnically diverse riding, Trudeau's father was a hero, and the two people running against his son are immigrants themselves, who say they have something important to contribute to Canada.

Basilio Giordano came from Italy as a young man and says immigrants idolized the late former prime minister.

"Having said that, it doesn't mean that today an immigrant cannot represent this riding," he said.

Mary Deros, the local city councillor, was born in Greece, but has lived most of her life in Papineau riding.

"I don't have the name, and in order for my name to be known today, it's because I've worked very hard to bring it there," she said. "I think that means something. It means something to every immigrant who came to Montreal, who came to Canada with hopes and dreams."

With files from the Canadian Press