Trudeau Says He’s ‘Eager’ to Continue Leading Liberals Amid Reported Discontent

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rebuffed the idea of stepping down amid reported discontent within his party
Trudeau Says He’s ‘Eager’ to Continue Leading Liberals Amid Reported Discontent
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the construction site of an affordable housing project in London, Ont. on Sept. 13, 2023. (Nicole Osborne/The Canadian Press)
Noé Chartier

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would continue leading his party through challenging times, as he prepared to meet his Liberal caucus for a cabinet retreat in London, Ont.

Liberal MPs have spoken with media outlets in recent days, on and off the record, to express discontent about the current fortunes of their party and its leader.

During a housing announcement in London on Sept. 13, reporters asked the prime minister several times whether he would consider stepping down and how he would address the internal discontent.

“We're two years away from the next election. I continue to do my job, and there's a lot of important work to be done, and to deliver for Canadians in these tough times,” said Mr. Trudeau.

"I remain enthusiastic and determined about this work.”

The prime minister said he would “spend a lot of time to listen” to MPs to attempt to alleviate the frustration within the ranks. He insisted that he’s had frank conversations with MPs during the summer and that challenges would be resolved by working together.

“I have a lot of ambitions for this country and I’m eager to continue the good work we’re doing together,” he said.

The Liberal retreat comes a few days after the federal Conservative Party held its convention in Quebec City.

The party led by Pierre Poilievre has gained steadily in the polls in recent months, reaching majority territory.

Since he began his bid for the leadership of the party, Mr. Poilievre has been speaking about affordability issues with a particular focus on housing. This has now become a top-of-mind issue for many Canadians, with high prices now compounded by high interest rates and average rental prices reaching record levels.

Liberal MPs have told some media outlets that their government hasn’t been communicating its accomplishments well enough and this could explain the drop in support.

Mr. Trudeau's housing announcement in London was related to the city being the first to be approved to receive money under the Accelerator Fund, a policy announced by the Liberals in Budget 2022.

The program aims to encourage cities to submit bids explaining how they can speed up the construction of new homes, by cutting red tape and modifying city bylaws on building permits.

Mr. Trudeau and Housing Minister Sean Fraser defended the program, saying it was only starting to get into gear.

“No one order of government can solve housing on its own,” said the prime minister.

Mr. Fraser said details of the policy had to be fleshed out and municipalities needed the time to make their submissions.

The Liberal caucus retreat will run until Sept. 14. MPs will then converge on Ottawa for the fall sitting of the House of Commons beginning on Sept. 18.