OTTAWA – As a new day dawned for a liberal government returning to Parliament without its desired majority, what do the results of Monday night’s elections mean for the party – and its leader – that made the political bet in the first place?
It was a question that the prime minister could not answer himself on Tuesday; Unlike other leaders, Justin Trudeau chose not to hold a press conference to answer questions about his party’s performance, although he found time to speak with US President Joe Biden about his victory and the shared priorities of the two countries.
Within the party, liberal sources told the Star that the fact that Trudeau managed to win 158 seats, a larger minority than some thought might have been possible early in the campaign, may have avoided internal pressure that would otherwise have it could have fallen on his leadership. .
On Tuesday, a liberal source said that the prime minister can win the trust of his group because he achieved a victory, even if it is a minority.
Another said Trudeau still has “the fire in his stomach” to get the job done and is looking forward to advancing his plan to aggressively address climate change.
However, liberal candidates have also told the Star throughout the campaign that they encountered what one described as “visceral” impatience or anger with Trudeau at the door as candidates went looking for votes.
At the Ottawa Center, the winning liberal candidate, Yasir Naqvi, was not one of those candidates who used to find disgust with Trudeau when they knocked on doors.
On Tuesday, he told the Star that despite the party’s minority result, the prime minister had done a “phenomenal job” in leading the Liberals and the country.
“He has been firm and determined in terms of fighting this pandemic,” Naqvi said. “I think that is a great reason why we were elected and returned as a government, because people feel confident in the response … taken by the prime minister, and they see that he is the best person to get us out of this pandemic.” .
The challenge now, Naqvi said, will be to usher in a new era of cross-party collaboration amid a pandemic, while working to deliver the ambitious platform on which the party developed.
“There will always be some differences of opinion and there will be responsibility, and that is an important role played by the opposition. But we also have to make sure that we are doing things that make Canadians, at the end of the day, winners. “
As for Trudeau personally, what follows may very well be about outlining his legacy, says Lori Turnbull, director of the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University.
“Even though he is now showing no sign of wanting to leave … what can he do in the next two or three years that would be a legacy for him, that would give stability to the minority Parliament and that would transition to the next leader as (gently) as possible? “Turnbull said.
Although Trudeau has said that he “is not done fighting for Canadians,” if this administration turns out to be the last, his focus should be on the key priorities he wants to address during his final term, Turnbull added.
“The platform is huge … Can you dig in and say, ‘I want to prioritize these two or three things’? Turnbull said. “If he can focus on that and build on that and deliver on that, that would be ideal.”
At the moment, some of the pressure could be off Trudeau, as all party leaders evaluate his victories and grapple with his defeats on election night.
Despite the party’s minority stake, the caucus should be happy with Trudeau’s performance, said Greg MacEachern, a former liberal strategist and senior vice president at Proof Strategies.
“You can rightly point to the fact that Justin Trudeau had a strong impact in terms of the fortunes of the election,” MacEachern said. “The question revolves around … the inability to give an answer on the reason for an election; that’s something that liberals are having a lot of questions about.”
And when it comes to Trudeau’s new caucus, it could be helpful for the prime minister to address those questions.
“Justin Trudeau needs to show his new liberal caucus that he is a leader who listens and is prepared to restructure his approach, his (Prime Minister’s Office), his administrator, in a way that makes his caucus feel included and heard.” said the former strategist.
“It has to be an approach that takes us beyond the end, hopefully the end, of the pandemic.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION