Senator Percy Downe, who was chief of staff to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, says it is time for the Liberal Party of Canada to have a discussion about who will lead them into the next election.
In an opinion piece published in National Newswatch, the senator from Prince Edward Island said Liberals owed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a debt of gratitude for leading the party from third party status to government, but given declining support in each successive election and poor polling numbers, it may be time for someone else to lead.
“The prudent course of action is for another Liberal leader to rise from the impressive Liberal caucus and safeguard those policies he was actually able to accomplish,” wrote Downe.
“If the new Liberal leader is able to bring the party back to the centre of the political spectrum, Liberals have a chance of being re-elected.”
He went on to list possible successors: Sean Fraser, Anita Anand, Mélanie Joly, François-Philippe Champagne and Jonathan Wilkinson. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre took note of the op-ed, quoting from it during question period Wednesday. Asked about it during a scrum, Trudeau was dismissive.
“Oh well,” Trudeau said. “I wish him all the best in the work that he’s doing.”
Poll aggregator 338 Canada suggests the Conservative Party has a 14-point lead nationwide over the Liberal Party as of Oct. 29, with CPC support surging in much of the country.
Discussions to replace Trudeau have started In an interview on CBC’s Power and Politics Thursday, Downe took a softer approach to the question of whether Trudeau should step aside.
“I just think we should have a discussion about it,” he said. “If he decides to go, then we’re on a new course. Certainly the prime minister has earned the right to make his own decision.”
Downe said there’s still time before the next election to move the Liberal Party forward with a new leader, and that’s why it’s important to have this discussion now. It is a discussion, he added, that is already underway among some Liberal MPs, and that is one of the reasons he chose to bring it up.
“It’s just easier for me to do it than for people who have to have their nomination papers signed by the leader of the party,” he said.
Downe said he is not working with any potential leadership candidate, and added he likely would not support one.
“Other people in the party can participate, but I’ve had my day in that area,” he said.
Downe said should Trudeau decide to contest another election, he still has time to address the concerns Canadians have about his government, adding that he believes Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives are beatable.
But if Trudeau decides to go, that decision should be made in the next few months, he said.
Source: CBC News