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Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc answers a question during a news conference in February.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

A senior federal cabinet minister and close ally of Justin Trudeau says he supports the Prime Minister, but did not rule out a leadership bid if the top Liberal Party post becomes vacant.

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail reported that Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc held a meeting with a former Liberal cabinet minister to lay the groundwork for a leadership campaign should Mr. Trudeau step down.

Mr. LeBlanc was asked about the report on Parliament Hill on Thursday and didn’t deny it.

Asked by a reporter, “do you plan to run for Liberal Leader?” Mr. LeBlanc replied: “No, I plan to be a candidate in the next election under Prime Minister Trudeau’s leadership. I’m very happy. I’m excited about that. I’m focused on the responsibilities he gave me.”

“I’m optimistic that our team and the Prime Minister will make the case to Canadians as to why we should be re-elected.”

However, he refused to answer a question about whether he’s had talks about a potential run in the future and walked away from reporters when they asked if he thought Mr. Trudeau should resign. He also did not answer a question about whether he is organizing a leadership bid.

His office did not respond to a Globe request for more clarity and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

Mr. LeBlanc is a lifelong friend of Mr. Trudeau. His father was a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet and Mr. LeBlanc used to babysit the current Prime Minister. In 2013, Mr. LeBlanc declined to run for the Liberal leadership and instead threw his support behind Mr. Trudeau.

In government since 2015, the Liberals have been trailing badly in public-opinion polling since last summer. The party is behind the Conservative Party by double-digits and Mr. Trudeau’s personal popularity has also taken a significant hit. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre far outperforms Mr. Trudeau on the preferred prime minister question in polls, according to Nanos Research.

Despite that, Mr. Trudeau has repeatedly said that he will stay on as leader and try to win his party a fourth mandate. Such a win would be a rare achievement in Canadian politics, something no other prime minister has done in more than a century.

Still none of the potential leadership successors has made a public move to push out Mr. Trudeau.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Treasury Board President Anita Anand, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Housing Minister Sean Fraser are all believed to be considering future leadership bids. Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney also hasn’t ruled it out and regularly appears at Liberal Party events.

In Question Period on Thursday, the Official Opposition jumped on the leadership rumours swirling around Mr. LeBlanc, with Ontario MP Michael Barrett referring to him as “the latest candidate to be the next leader of the Liberal Party.”

The Public Safety Minister previously ran for leader in 2008 but dropped out of the race to back Michael Ignatieff.

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