Winter storm forces NDP to move caucus retreat from Saguenay to Ottawa


OTTAWA — Federal New Democrats have been forced to relocate a planned caucus retreat to Ottawa after poor weather scuttled the party’s original plan to hold the meeting in Saguenay, Que.

The three-day gathering was supposed to start in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean on Tuesday, but a winter-storm warning led to the cancellation of several flights to the area, located about 200 kilometres north of Quebec City.

Environment Canada said it was expecting 25 to 40 centimetres of snow and blowing snow as well as freezing rain over parts of central and eastern Quebec through Wednesday.

The storm sent NDP officials scrambling to find an alternative venue before the party decided to have MPs fly to Ottawa.

The caucus retreat will kick off on Wednesday morning and run through Thursday.

The NDP had been hoping to use the Saguenay meeting to get the community — where the party was trounced in a byelection in October — and Quebecers as a whole better acquainted with new leader Jagmeet Singh.

“Unfortunately, the storm has had an impressive impact on the movement of our MPs in the rest of Canada,” Singh said.

“I am extremely disappointed that we have been forced to postpone our visit to Saguenay. I was really looking forward to coming back to the area, especially after being so well received in the fall.”

New Democrats placed a distant fourth in the Lac-Saint-Jean byelection after finishing a close second in the 2015 federal election.

The Canadian Press