ontario news watch

Liberal MPs in ‘solution mode’ as they talk cost-of-living, climate at caucus retreat

LONDON, Ont. — The Liberals are insisting they can reverse their slumping poll numbers as MPs gather for the last day of strategy planning ahead of Parliament’s return next week.

Most of the party’s 158 MPs are in London, Ont., for a three-day caucus retreat, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his focus is hearing what constituents are telling members.

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore says the talks have largely focused on affordability concerns and how the Liberals can better communicate what they’ve done to help with the cost of living.

He says climate change was a frequent topic in Wednesday’s meeting of MPs from all regions, with two more meetings of the national caucus planned for today.

The Liberals have seen slumping poll numbers that suggest Canadians believe the Conservatives would do a better job dealing with affordability and housing concerns.

Quebec MP Steve MacKinnon says the party is trying to stabilize the housing market after a drastic rise in costs and interest rates, but the provinces also need to help.

“We clearly have to make some adjustments,” said the MP for Gatineau.

Meanwhile, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne rejected the idea that the Liberals are responding late to mounting inflation concerns.

“It’s always a good time to fight,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly pushed back on reports that MPs have come to London to blast Trudeau over unflattering polls.

“There’s no dirty laundry,” she said in French, arguing the COVID-19 pandemic was a much bigger challenge for her government than slumping poll numbers.

“We are used to going through crises,” she said. “We are in solution mode, and we’ll earn the trust of Canadians.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press