As Liberal MPs began to trickle into London, Ont. for the party’s caucus retreat—ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arrival— the need to act on housing and better communicate their policies were the common themes that came up.
Those who stopped to speak with reporters at the retreat also largely dismissed concerns about the summer polling showing Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives ahead.
After being delayed in India, Trudeau is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday for the first full day of the caucus confab. On Tuesday, the Liberal women’s caucus, Indigenous caucus, and rural caucus all held meetings.
Here’s some of what’s being said in the halls:
ON A HOUSING PLAN
“I’m sort of sad that we’re still talking about the same things… Why has housing continued to be the most pressing issue? … I think it’s because there’s so many players that need to be at the table,” said London West, Ont. MP Arielle Kayabaga. “I’m 32 years old, I’m a member of Parliament. I haven’t been able to purchase a home. I came here to this country as a refugee, I’ve been a single mom for the last 14 years… So, it’s not just a fight of… politicking. These are personal fights for some people, and they matter, and we need to see more housing for Canadians.”
“The feeling that the government doesn’t have a plan and is perhaps legitimate in the sense that it’s difficult to explain a plan that is so comprehensive. The government does have a plan, a very solid one, to address all these issues. But it takes time to explain this and it’s not something that you do in a 30-second blurb, so that is a challenge,” said Brossard-Saint-Lambert, Que. MP Alexandra Mendes.
“I think the challenge is the affordability piece, and how are we going to ensure that people are able to not only afford comfortable living spaces, but also afford livelihoods, and be able to work. … I think childcare, the early learning childcare program has had a significant impact on families in my riding,” said Mississauga-Erin Mills, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid. “The reality is Canada is doing a lot better than… the majority of the world. But, that doesn’t mean that people are not suffering and I think we do need to address that.”
“We know that people are hurting… the fact that for first time homebuyers it is difficult. We know that. We have a new minister in charge … And of course, we’ll have important conversations here about this issue,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que. MP Melanie Joly.
ON THE POLLS AND POILIEVRE
“This is, I think, normal. I’ve travelled this summer, it’s not something that is only Canadian, this mood of dissatisfaction is, I’d say pervasive around the world. People are going through a lot of changes,” said Mendes. “So yes, people are unsatisfied with their governments, wherever we are. And it’s normal. It doesn’t mean that eventually, once we go into a campaign and you start putting people face to face with choices, they won’t choose what actually proves to be not just the known quantity, but the government that has been there for them.”
“I don’t put too much weight on the polls. I mean, some people do for sure, but it’s just about what’s happening locally,” said Fredericton, N.B. MP Jenica Atwin. “I think he’s [Poilievre] simplifying his message, which is an issue for me because these are not simple issues… And so we need to do better about laying out the facts and speaking about the progress that we’ve made in key areas… It’s about kind of rallying the team right now… We just try to stay positive and counteract.”
“This government has gone through a lot of things over the past eight years. And we know things move fast, and people expect good government and that’s what we’ll do. We’ll be a good government working on delivering for Canadians… making sure that we are there for their needs,” said Joly. “We’ve done a lot in the past budget, but we need to do more… I think we’ll be also focusing on reminding Canadians, what is Pierre Poilievre about? Because we know that we can’t go back.”
“When it comes to what I’m responsible for, and how I speak across this country, that is something that I consider very deeply. Especially from where I came from, making sure that Canadians understand where we are, that we are listening, that we hear them, and we’re doing all that we can to serve them,” said Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Toronto Centre, Ont. MP Marci Ien.
“Of course communicating with Canadians is very, very important. We’ve sort of failed at being very aggressive in promoting what the government has done, and has realized for Canadians,” said Mendes.
With files from CTV News’ Judy Trinh