Former Trudeau minister Catherine McKenna says Liberals need a new leader

28 June 2024
Former Trudeau minister Catherine McKenna says Liberals need a new leader

Catherine McKenna, who served as a prominent Liberal cabinet minister under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from 2015 to 2021, says it’s time for the Liberal Party to seek a “new leader.”

“The Liberal Party isn’t about one person. It’s about the values it stands for and it’s about improving the lives of Canadians,” McKenna said in a media statement.

“The prime minister has a legacy to be proud of, but it’s time for new ideas, new energy and a new leader. There’s too much at stake in this election, especially on the economy and the climate.”

McKenna is the first person who served in Trudeau’s cabinet to call for a change in leadership since the Liberals’ surprising loss this week in the Toronto-St. Paul’s byelection.

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The Liberal Party had held the riding since 1993 and won it by nearly 13,000 votes just three years ago in the general election. Conservative candidate Don Stewart won a narrow victory there on Monday.

While the Liberals have trailed the Conservatives by a wide margin in opinion polls over the past year and a half, their loss of Toronto-St. Paul’s has revived questions about Trudeau’s leadership and the direction of the government. The prime minister has said repeatedly that he intends to lead the party into the next election.

David Herle, chief campaign strategist for the Liberals under former prime minister Paul Martin, told Power & Politics Thursday that Justin Trudeau should be asking himself, ‘What’s the risk of me leaving, what’s the risk of me staying?’ as some Liberal MPs are questioning Trudeau’s leadership following the party’s shocking byelection loss in Toronto-St. Paul’s.

Trudeau appointed McKenna, who represented the riding of Ottawa Centre, as his first minister of the environment and climate change in 2015. She held that portfolio until 2019.

During those four years, the Liberal government negotiated a national framework on climate change and energy policy, the centrepiece of which was a national price on carbon.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna after she was officially sworn in following the 2015 election. (CBC News)

After the 2019 election, she was appointed minister of infrastructure and communities, a post she held until she left federal politics in 2021.

A year later, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres named her chair of an expert panel studying net-zero commitments from “non-state actors” such as businesses and financial institutions.

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Sources have told CBC News that the loss in Toronto-St. Paul’s is driving debate within the Liberal caucus about the future prospects of the party and Trudeau’s leadership, and the effectiveness of the political team that surrounds the prime minister.

On Thursday, Liberal MP Sophie Chatel dodged a question about whether she thinks Trudeau should stay on as leader.

“It’s not something that I feel comfortable to share. I think it’s discussions that are being done internally. I think ultimately it’s his decision, and I respect that,” she told CBC News during a media availability.

Sophie Chatel, Liberal MP for the Quebec riding of Pontiac, would not say whether she thinks Justin Trudeau should stay on as the leader of the Liberal Party when asked by CBC News on Wednesday.

But behind the scenes, a number of Liberal MPs have told CBC News that the national caucus needs to meet as soon as possible to discuss the fallout from the byelection loss, and are arguing the gathering can’t wait until the caucus retreat scheduled for the end of the summer. Those MPs spoke to CBC on the condition they not be named.

At least one Liberal MP has spoken publicly about a desire within the caucus for a meeting with the prime minister before the House of Commons returns in September.

“It’s almost a shame that we’re not gathering as a caucus until after the summer, but I think the focus right now is on our community members,” MP Jenica Atwin told CBC News during a media availability Wednesday.

Source: cbc

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