Politics

Reversing the Liberals’ slide in the polls would take ‘somewhat of a miracle,’ Liberal MP says

Newfoundland Liberal MP Ken McDonald says he thinks it would take “somewhat of a miracle” to turn the Liberals’ electoral fortunes around before the next federal election.

Speaking with CBC’s Power & Politics, McDonald said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still enjoys a high amount of support within the Liberal caucus after the party’s surprising byelection loss in a Toronto-area riding.

“I think there’s a lot of caucus members who are nervous,” McDonald said. “Do I think a large number still stand with the prime minister? Yes I do.”

He also confirmed he won’t run again for the Liberals in the riding of Avalon, but added the steep challenge the Liberals are facing isn’t why he decided not to run.

McDonald, who was elected in 2015, said his decision not to run again was made “quite some time ago” and his original plan was to serve two terms and then “get out.”

In another interview on Power & Politics, deputy House leader Mark Gerretsen said “the majority of [the Liberal] caucus is behind the prime minister.”

WATCH: Liberal MPs call for caucus meeting as questions swirl around Trudeau’s leadership

Liberal MPs call for urgent caucus meeting as questions swirl around Trudeau’s leadership I Power & Politics

After at least nine Liberal MPs signed a letter calling for an in-person caucus meeting to discuss the party’s Toronto-St. Paul’s byelection loss, Newfoundland and Labrador MP Ken McDonald and deputy government House leader Mark Gerretsen share their views on Justin Trudeau’s leadership with Power & Politics.

The Conservative upset in the former Liberal stronghold riding of Toronto St-Paul’s is leading some MPs to question Trudeau’s leadership. One Liberal MP, Wayne Long of New Brunswick, has openly called on Trudeau to resign as Liberal leader.

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“For the future of our party and for the good of our country, we need new leadership and a new direction,” Long said in an email to the Liberal caucus that was obtained by CBC News.

McDonald responded to the email with, “Well said!”

When questioned about that response, McDonald did not say he agrees with Long. He added “there has to be a conversation” about the party’s leadership.

In January, McDonald told a Radio-Canada reporter that Prime Minister Trudeau should be subject to a leadership review. The next day, McDonald walked back his comments and said he would continue to support his caucus colleagues and Trudeau.

Multiple MPs demanding in-person caucus meeting

Several times during his interview with Power & Politics, McDonald called for an in-person caucus meeting. He said such a gathering would allow “everybody to speak their mind with no repercussions, because the conversations might be difficult at times.”

McDonald isn’t the only one calling for such a meeting. George Chahal, a Liberal MP for Calgary Skyview, informed colleagues on Friday by email that he co-signed a letter to Liberal national caucus chair Brenda Shanahan requesting an in-person meeting in Ottawa.

“This was a race the Liberal Party of Canada should not have lost,” Chahal’s message to Shanahan reads. “The residents of Toronto St. Paul were clear in sending a message.”

Chahal said eight other MPs co-signed the letter. He said he would leave it to them to identify themselves.

McDonald said he did not sign the letter.

Gerretsen said he doesn’t disagree “with the fact that we need to get together and talk” but added the Prime Minister’s Office doesn’t decide when caucus meetings are held.

A politician holds his hands in front of himself while speaking in a legislature.
Deputy House leader Mark Gerretsen said he doesn’t disagree the party needs to get together and talk, but added the Prime Minister’s Office does not decide when those meetings are held. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“I certainly think that having the opportunity to talk together and to share our ideas together in the private setting … is the best way to be having these discussions,” he said.

Gerretsen also pushed back on McDonald’s comments about the Liberal Party’s political prospects.

He said that when Canadians are presented with the alternative of a federal government led by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, they will “make their decisions wisely in terms of what they want moving into the future.”

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