Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his minority government is still assessing how to navigate the regional divisions that developed out of last month’s election but the results won’t dissuade his government from pushing for more policies to address climate change.
The Prime Minister was in Ottawa on Thursday for his first meeting with defeated and elected Liberal MPs since last month’s general election.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Trudeau said he’s reached out to premiers, mayors and business leaders since the election to find the proper way to address Western alienation.
“There’s a lot of work to do to make sure that we’re governing for the entire country,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau will hold individual meetings with opposition leaders next week and unveil his cabinet on Nov. 20. He is facing pressure to find a way to represent the interests of Saskatchewan and Alberta, where the Liberals were shut out, and to give a stronger voice to Quebec after the Bloc Québécois more than tripled its seat count in the province.
The Liberals’ diminished election result has emboldened premiers who will meet on Dec. 2 in Toronto to try to form a common front in their dealings with the federal government.
The election results revealed fault lines between Canada’s main regions, as well as a continuing debate over the development of Canada’s oil resources and the fight against climate change.
“There’s a very challenging circle to square here,” said long-time Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who lost his seat in Saskatchewan. Mr. Goodale served in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet as well as those of former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government has a mandate to continue working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We went through a very divisive election but it’s incumbent on us to make Canada work and to tackle one of the biggest challenges – the biggest challenge – we face. Which isn’t really just climate change, it’s how do you transition to a cleaner future,” she said.
Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the government will have to fight climate change “in a way that is sensitive to the needs of all regions of the country."
“Certainly we need to ensure that we are being thoughtful about how we are addressing some of the concerns that are raised on the Prairies,” said Mr. Wilkinson, who grew up and worked in Saskatchewan before moving to British Columbia.
Mr. Trudeau is also under pressure to appoint a Quebec lieutenant in his cabinet to improve the Liberal Party’s ability to communicate its message in the province.
Before the meeting, some of the Liberal MPs pointed to the need for their party to find a better way to connect with voters in the next election.
“There are definitely things that need to be done differently," said Ramez Ayoub, who lost his seat north of Montreal. “We did great things over the last four years for citizens, and sometimes the message didn’t get through."
Anthony Rota, who was re-elected in Nipissing-Timiskaming, said the party needs to find new ways to showcase its achievements across the country.
“Maybe we need to better promote ourselves and promote what we have done. We are maybe too humble at times," he said.
Despite losing the popular vote and getting knocked down to a minority government, Mr. Trudeau said he plans to lead his party into the next election.
“That is certainly my plan, yes,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Trade Minister Jim Carr, who announced after the election that he is suffering from cancer, said he is feeling well and would be available to serve in cabinet.