CanadaPolitics

Trudeau won’t commit to national caucus meeting, says he’s having calls with MPs

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MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 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, but 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 said he met with his caucus executive yesterday, and is continuing to talk to multiple MPs about how the party can improve.

Trudeau has rejected calls for him to step aside as his popularity plummets. 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.

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.

“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.”

He was asked three times by reporters whether or not he’d hold an imminent national caucus meeting, 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 said he had direct and frank conversations with MPs that take into account the challenges the party is facing following their loss. But he said the government’s priority remains providing services, implementing affordability measures and making investments in housing.

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.

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