OTTAWA — Re-elected, newly elected and defeated Liberal MPs are gathering on Parliament Hill to mull over the disappointing results of the Oct. 21 election and contemplate the best way forward in a challenging new world of minority government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s a day of celebrating wins and also mourning losses as the Liberals seek to chart a new course.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, who went down to defeat in his Saskatchewan riding after more than 25 years as an MP, says a majority of Canadians voted both for completing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline as well as for tougher action on climate change.
Goodale says he’s convinced those two things are not mutually exclusive, and that it’s up to the Liberal government to make that case to Canadians.
“There’s a very challenging circle to square here,” he acknowledged on his way into the meeting. “We have to demonstrate that it is” possible to simultaneously protect the environment and promote economic growth.
The Liberals won 157 seats — 13 shy of a majority in the House of Commons — and were shut out entirely in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Trudeau’s name is now political poison.
Goodale’s name has been floated by some Liberals as someone who could be tapped as a senior adviser to Trudeau on western issues. The veteran minister said he’s not yet had time to seriously reflect on his future but he said: “The first duty of every member of Parliament should be the unity and cohesion and success of the country and any way that I can make a contribution to that in my post-parliamentary life, I’m happy to do.”
Returning Liberal MPs do expect Trudeau to make some changes, including paying more attention to the views of caucus, diversifying his inner circle, adopting more positive messaging and communicating Liberal successes on the economic front.
Earlier Thursday, Trudeau met with P.E.I. Premier Dennis King, whom he said he hopes to learn from when it comes to working well with others in a minority government.
The meeting was just the first of several the prime minister has planned with the country’s premiers in the coming days.
Trudeau said it was opportune that King is the first premier he has met with post-election, given his success to date in leading a minority Progressive Conservative government and collaborating with the official Opposition in P.E.I. — the Green party.
“As I reflect on the need to work well with others, your example of how you’ve managed a minority government, working with the Greens in a very constructive, productive way, for Prince Edward Island, I look forward to picking your brain on how you’re working so well with others because that’s going to be important to me,” he said.
Such lessons would be good for everyone on Parliament Hill, King suggested.
“As one of the provinces who are leading the country in exports, I really hope we can export our style of politics,” he said, eliciting a chuckle from Trudeau. “I think it will actually be refreshing, maybe for you and all of the parties in Ottawa.”
— With files from Teresa Wright in Ottawa