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Liberal MPs voice support for Trudeau after caucus member suggests a 'leadership review'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A number of Liberal MPs are saying they still have confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after one of their caucus colleagues publicly questioned whether he should lead the party into the next election.

MP Ken McDonald, who represents the riding of Avalon in Newfoundland, recently told Radio-Canada that he has heard from constituents who have expressed frustration or even "hatred" regarding Trudeau. He suggested the Liberal Party should hold a leadership review.

"As a party, let's clear the air and if people are still intent on having the leader we have now, fine. But at least give people the opportunity to have their say in what they think the direction the party is going," he said.

Liberal MP Ken McDonald speaks with Radio-Canada at an arena in his riding.
Liberal MP Ken McDonald speaks with Radio-Canada at an arena in his riding.

Liberal MP Ken McDonald speaks with Radio-Canada at an arena in his riding. (Benoît Roussel/Radio-Canada)

The Liberal caucus is meeting in Ottawa ahead of the House of Commons' return from its winter break next week.

A number of MPs and ministers told reporters on Parliament Hill that they still support Trudeau, despite McDonald's concerns.

Liberal House Leader Steve MacKinnon said he believes Trudeau maintains the support of his caucus.

"Mr. McDonald could not be more wrong about this one," he told reporters.

"We are going to get results for Canadians in this session of Parliament and the prime minister is the right man to be leading us through."

While a number of MPs ignored reporters' questions about McDonald's comments, most members of Trudeau's cabinet, including Filomena Tassi, Pascale St-Onge, Rechie Valdez, Ya'ara Saks and Mary Ng, expressed support for Trudeau.

Yvonne Jones, one of McDonald's fellow Newfoundland and Labrador MPs, said McDonald's comments were "disappointing."

"There's always going to be differences of opinion and issues. But the Liberal Party is the party that's grounded in values and principles for Canadians that I support, and because of that I stand by the leader," she said.

Jones said the Liberal government has done "great work" for her province, citing its financial backing for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Liberal MP Yvonne Jones speaks to reporters before a meeting of the Liberal Women's Caucus, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.
Liberal MP Yvonne Jones speaks to reporters before a meeting of the Liberal Women's Caucus, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.

Liberal MP Yvonne Jones speaks to reporters before a meeting of the Liberal Women's Caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

"So am I disappointed in Ken? Yes I am. Because there's days that as a politician, when you're representing your constituents, you don't always 100 per cent agree with everything, but you work harder to change the result," she said.

The Liberal Party doesn't technically have a leadership review mechanism built into its constitution. It does allow for "leadership endorsement" ballots, which allow registered Liberals to vote on whether they still support the current leader. Such votes occur only after the party loses a general election.

Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod said that while he still supports Trudeau, he would support the idea of the party having some sort of leadership review following a election, at least within caucus.

"I'm good with the prime minister running again. I'm good if he wants to stay, but I'm also open to the prospect of having a review," McLeod said. "If there is people in our caucus that feel that there should be a review, I have no problem with that."