ontario news watch

In email to caucus, Liberal MP says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should step down

OTTAWA — A Liberal MP who is not seeking re-election has sent an email to fellow caucus members calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step down as party leader.

Tension among some members of the caucus has increased since the Liberals lost the stronghold seat of Toronto—St. Paul’s to the Conservatives by about 600 votes on Monday.

Liberals had claimed the urban riding as theirs for about 30 years. Some Liberal MPs attribute the loss to the choice of candidate and insufficient campaigning, while others point to Trudeau as the problem.

“After reflecting on this week’s defeat in Toronto—St Paul’s and then seeing the response, I want you to know clearly and directly where I stand,” Long wrote to the caucus in the email, obtained by The Canadian Press.

“For the future of our party and for the good of our country we need new leadership and a new direction. The voters have spoken loud and clear they want change. I agree.”

Long did not respond to a request for comment.

A few Liberal MPs have said privately that they think Trudeau should go, but a larger group that includes several cabinet members has publicly backed the prime minister.

Some level of rebellion within the Liberal caucus isn’t unusual for the party since it began trailing in national opinion polls to the Conservatives, who have focused heavily on affordability concerns.

In January, Newfoundland Liberal MP Ken McDonald called for a leadership review, comments he later walked back.

But when Long’s email was sent to the caucus, McDonald replied “well said” according to a media report by Global News.

For months, rumours about Trudeau have swirled around the Ottawa bubble, but the prime minister maintains he will continue to lead until voters say otherwise.

Cabinet members say Trudeau remains the best possible leader to take on Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who they portray as a phoney career politician eager to usher in program cuts.

The next federal election is slated to happen by the fall of 2025, and this week Trudeau acknowledged there’s a lot for he and his team to do before then.

“These are not easy times. And it is clear, I and my entire team, have much more hard work to do to deliver tangible, real progress that Canadians can see and feel,” Trudeau said at a presentation in British Columbia where he did not take media questions.

“We will never stop working and fighting to make sure you have what you need to get through these tough times. My focus is on your success and that’s where it’s going to stay.”

Throughout the week, Liberal MPs have communicated with each other from across the country, as they attempt to chart a path forward and get a sampling of one another’s feelings about not only Trudeau but their party.

The Toronto Star reported that Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault was overheard in a train station this week discussing internal caucus matters.

Guilbeault responded to the story by issuing a statement that reiterated his loyalty to Trudeau and the party.

“One-sided conversations taken out of context do not reflect the open and honest exchanges that I routinely have with my caucus colleagues,” Guilbeault said in the statement Friday.

“As I have said publicly many times, Prime Minister Trudeau has my full support, and I will continue to work to support Canadians.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

Trudeau was set to attend a fundraising event Friday evening in the Toronto area.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2024.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press