Trudeau focused on governing, fighting right-wing populism following byelection loss | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Trudeau focused on governing, fighting right-wing populism following byelection loss

<p>Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's been taking calls from different members of his Liberal caucus following the party's historic byelection loss in a downtown Toronto riding last week. Trudeau attends a Canada Day community event inside the Glacier Arena in Mount Pearl, N.L. on Monday, July 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly</p>
Original Publication Date July 03, 2024 - 8:41 AM

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been taking calls from different members of his Liberal caucus following the party's historic byelection loss in a Toronto riding last week, but the prime minister said his focus remains on governing.

Trudeau won't say whether or not he will hold a national caucus meeting to discuss the fallout, which continues to reverberate through the party.

Some Liberal MPs have privately demanded such a meeting and others also want a cabinet shuffle, two options Trudeau and his office are staying quiet on.

Trudeau was in Montreal Wednesday to announce infrastructure funding for local community projects, the first time he held a press conference since the byelection. He was peppered with questions about the fallout and his next steps.

He was asked three times by reporters whether or not he'd hold an imminent national caucus meeting to hash out a plan going forward, but he dodged answering directly.

"Last week's byelection loss, not to sugar coat it, was challenging. Was something we need to take seriously, and we've been engaged in lots of important conversations," he said.

"I've had lots of calls with different members of caucus from across the country — not just in the (Greater Toronto Area) — to talk about how we make sure we're continuing our work connecting with Canadians, to make sure we're continuing to deliver for people."

He did say he met with caucus leaders on Tuesday and is continuing to talk to multiple MPs about how the party can improve.

The Liberals held Toronto-St. Paul's for more than 30 years before it flipped to the Conservatives last week in a stunning loss that the Tories say proves Canadians are tired of Trudeau and want an election now.

But Trudeau has rejected calls for him to step aside and is determined to stay on and lead the Liberals into the next election. A staunch supporter of democracy and the rules-based order around the world, he said he is presenting a positive vision against mounting right-wing populism. He said that includes Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

He said he had direct and frank conversations with MPs that take into account the challenges the party is facing following their loss. But the government's priority remains providing services, implementing affordability measures and making investments in housing, he said.

Most of Trudeau's cabinet ministers have backed the prime minister, saying he is the best leader to take on Poilievre in the next federal election, who they portray as a phoney career politician eager to usher in cuts to child care, education and climate change policies.

Trudeau is taking the appropriate action and is "doing what he needs to do," said Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in Calgary on Wednesday.

"I have great confidence that he is going to reflect on what voters are telling us in this context of the byelection, but is going to actually help us to move forward in a thoughtful way, both as a party and as a country," he said.

Trudeau said his focus is on governing.

"People are anxious in Canada and around the world, and the government needs to be stepping up to deliver for people," Trudeau said Wednesday.

"These are the things that actually matter for Canadians. These are the things that we are focused on as a team."

Far-right politicians are gaining momentum in the United States and France, two countries Trudeau pointed to as an example of an erosion of democratic principles and rights among world democracies.

"This is a really important time for governments to step up and deliver concretely for citizens, to restore and encourage faith in the institutions that are there to deliver" things such as more child care spaces, access to dental care, and more housing, Trudeau said, pointing to his party's recent signature policies.

Several former cabinet ministers including Jane Philpott, Wayne Easter and Catherine McKenna, have said it is time for Trudeau to go.

But to date most current Liberal MPs who have spoken publicly back the prime minister with some pointing to the fact that most incumbents are seeking re-election under the party banner.

"We are a solid team when it comes to the Liberal caucus. We hash out our problems in caucus, and we come out united," said Liberal MP Karina Gould said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

"So there isn't this overwhelming sentiment that we're hearing from some outside voices. We're still determined to fight for Canadians and demonstrate that we've got what it takes to be the governing parties and do a good job with Canadians."

New Brunswick Liberal MP Wayne Long has been the lone member to publicly call for Trudeau to step aside as leader and wrote an email to caucus last week about it.

Long, who isn't seeking re-election, has not responded to repeated requests for comment, but he told the Toronto Star he was surprised his other colleagues didn't join his call for Trudeau to step down.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024.

— With files Maura Forrest in Montreal and Amanda Stephenson in Calgary.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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