Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing to meet with opposition leaders as the Liberals start to map out how they will govern in a minority Parliament and identify a legislative agenda that other parties will support.
The Liberal Leader has kept a low profile since the election two weeks ago where he lost his majority government but hung onto the prime minister’s job. Behind the scenes, the Liberals have been working on the transition to a minority government, where they will need the support of either the Conservatives, NDP or Bloc Québécois to pass legislation.
Mr. Trudeau’s office reached out to all four opposition leaders, spokesperson Chantal Gagnon said Sunday. The Conservatives, NDP and Greens all confirmed their leaders will meet with the Prime Minister some time in the week of Nov. 11.
The meetings between Mr. Trudeau and the other leaders will likely make it clear to the Prime Minister who wants to work with the government and who doesn’t, said Michele Cadario, who was deputy chief of staff to former prime minister Paul Martin.
The timing of the gatherings, a week before Mr. Trudeau unveils his new cabinet, means his office will have had the time to go through all of the parties’ platforms to find commonalities, Ms. Cadario said.
The face-to-face sessions will “open up lines of communications” but it’s unlikely any deals will be struck right off the bat, she added.
The NDP are the only party so far to outline its policy priorities, the top two being universal pharmacare and the government dropping its legal challenge of a human rights tribunal decision involving Indigenous children.
However, those aren’t red lines, but rather an opening pitch. “I’m focused on making parliament work," Jagmeet Singh said in a statement Sunday.
Ahead of those meetings, Mr. Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer are expected to meet with their new caucuses this week, although the two are walking into very different gatherings.
While the Liberals lost their majority government, MPs Mark Holland and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told The Globe and Mail on Sunday that they are not expecting Mr. Trudeau to face any leadership unrest. “I haven’t heard a whiff of that,” Mr. Erskine-Smith said.
The same can’t be said for Mr. Scheer, who, since losing the election, has faced public calls for his ouster with few Conservatives coming to his defence. The election loss triggered an automatic leadership review at the party’s April convention.
By hanging on to the prime minister’s post, Mr. Trudeau does not face a similar vote.
Mr. Scheer will meet with his MPs on Wednesday. Rachel Curran, the director of policy under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, said it will be an important meeting where “Mr. Scheer is going to be having a pretty serious discussion with caucus members about the future of the party, [and] about his own future.”
Ahead of the meeting with MPs, Mr. Scheer has held a slate of other meetings including with his inner circle and defeated candidates in the Greater Toronto Area. However, one Conservative MP, granted anonymity to discuss internal party matters, said the Leader has not yet contacted all MPs who were re-elected. Mr. Scheer’s office did not respond to a question about who he has spoken with.
Defeated MP and outgoing deputy-leader Lisa Raitt attended meetings with Mr. Scheer in Ottawa and Toronto last week and said Sunday she expects Mr. Scheer to present MPs with a plan for the next six months and a “process to come up with a better way forward for our party.”
Ms. Curran echoed the need for a plan and urged Mr. Scheer to take the concerns seriously. He “can’t simply say we’re just going to keep going in the same way as we were," she said.
The Liberals, who are holding what Mr. Holland said is an informal meeting on Thursday, will debrief on the election result and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of their defeated colleagues. Mr. Holland said he expects Liberals will be in a “reflective mood."
Mr. Erskine-Smith said he hopes the Liberals show “a more collaborative and co-operative approach and maybe a little bit more humility" in the new Parliament.
He pointed to the Liberal’s handling of the medical-aid-in-dying legislation as an example of where the government could have shown more humility, instead it “pressed forward” in 2016 against the concerns of experts and some MPs.
During the election, part of the bill was struck down and Mr. Trudeau said the government will change the law.
On policies, Mr. Erskine-Smith said he wants to see the government make climate change its top priority.
The Green Party’s three MPs had their first meeting on Sunday.
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