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The Liberal Party’s plan to win back public support: Attack Poilievre and Get rid of Trudeau

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Facing declining public support for the Liberal Party and mishap after mishap, Liberals are in such a panic that they are beginning to turn against Trudeau’s leadership. It’s clear Trudeau’s time is up as major voices within the Liberal party have become deeply critical of his policies and are at last calling for him to step down.

With polls consistently putting the Conservatives well ahead, Liberals are clearly losing faith in Trudeau. 

Desperate to turnaround their political situation, Liberals are aggressively targeting Poilievre on social media while scoping out possible replacements for Trudeau as party leader. 

Is this the end for Trudeau? Or will the Liberal Party stoop so low as to plaster attack ads against Poilievre in a last ditch effort to save themselves?

The Liberal Party appears to be taking an increasingly aggressive approach in attacking Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre through online videos in an effort to undermine his growing public support. They have recently begun posting videos on X attacking Poilievre, one of which compares him to former U.S president Donald Trump in an attempt to paint Poilievre as following Trump’s confrontational political style. Other newly released videos by the Liberals highlight past positions taken by Poilievre, such as support for raising the retirement age. 

This online campaign and the increased aggression shown in the Liberal Party’s online attacks against Poilievre is reflective of growing panic within the party’s ranks as public support continues to decline under Trudeau’s leadership. Fearing that they cannot defeat Poilievre in legitimate debate on the issues, Libera ls are launching counter attacks hoping to hurt public perception of him. 

But this is far from an overreaction on the Liberal’s part. They have every right to be scared. After all, David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data presented polling data to the Liberal party over the summer indicating the lowest polling numbers that the Trudeau government has faced up to that point. A poll released on September 14th also found that the Conservatives held a sizable 15-point lead over the Liberals, with 41% support compared to just 26% for the Liberals. This represents some of the lowest numbers  the Trudeau government has seen since first taking office in 2015. 

In a telephone interview with The Hill Times last month, Coletto talked about presenting the polls to the Liberal Party: “I feel like a physician giving bad news to a patient, because it isn’t great news, but they aren’t shocked, (…)They need to do something to reset and get the public looking at them, and their decisions, and their plan in a new way.”

It seems the party has taken Coletto’s words to heart. Besides launching a smear campaign against Poilievre, they are considering dropping Trudeau altogether in the hope that this could “reset” the public’s view of them.  

Liberal party stalwart, Senator Percy Downe, who served as chief of staff to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, is calling for new Liberal leadership. In his op-ed, Downe writes that Liberals owe Trudeau a debt of gratitude for pulling the party out of third place and winning government in 2015, but he blames the Trudeau government for creating the conditions that could lead to its own defeat to the Conservatives. 

As Downe wrote, “The opportunity for a Poilievre government was created by a lack of fiscal responsibility in the Trudeau government, and the damage it caused our economy is now showing up in the opinion poll numbers.” Downe also said that centrist Liberals were reluctant to support the party anymore after realizing their hopes of educating Trudeau and his inner circle about economics were dashed.   

In a scathing review of Trudeau’s leadership, Downe wrote “That naiveté was replaced with the realization that they were not a serious government when it came to the economy, that they simply didn’t care and would throw money at anything that crossed their mind. The resulting interest rate hikes, increasing cost of living, and huge debt didn’t seem to concern them.” 

Similarly, Downe wrote that other Liberals had given up on the Trudeau government “who expected government announcements to be followed by government action,” noting that “Inaction on delivery and lack of fiscal prudence have now returned with a vengeance to haunt this government.” He also stated that “If the next Liberal Leader is able to bring the party back to the center of the political spectrum, Liberals have a chance of being reelected.” 

While Downe still holds out hope for the next election, whoever potentially takes over for Trudeau has their work cut out for them. However, his list of potential successors from within the Liberal caucus include Sean Fraser, Anita Anand, Mélanie Joly, François-Philippe Champagne and Jonathan Wilkinson. 

In a separate interview, Downe told the Hill Times that he believes Trudeau could make the decision to resign by February, noting that February will mark the 40th anniversary of Pierre Trudeau’s “walk in the snow” when he decided not to run again for prime minister in 1984.

The question Downe poses to Trudeau is an important one. He notes that while it’s possible that Trudeau and the NDP could squeeze enough seats to form a minority government, the question is whether it should. In his Op-Ed, Downe writes, “The questions for Justin Trudeau are: given the divisions in our country, is that the best result for Canada, and is it the best result for Justin personally?”

In a phone interview, Downe has stated that the discussion within the Party of whether  Trudeau is the best fit to continue Liberal leadership should be over the next 16 weeks.

When Trudeau was asked about Downe’s statements, he laughed it off and dismissed it by simply saying “I wish him all the best” before quickly changing the subject. But Former Conservative Cabinet Minister James Moore, noted that whether Trudeau dismisses Downe’s comments, it’s over for him either way. 

As the turmoil within the Liberal Party becomes more and more apparent, others are sensing opportunity. Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said he is even considering the possibility of running for the federal leadership of the Liberal Party.

Now, Carney’s comments about potentially running have added fuel to the speculative fire. It seems Carney is using the imminent climate crisis and criticism of Trudeau’s policy inconsistencies, such as pausing the carbon tax, to position himself in contrast to both Poilievre and Trudeau’s approaches.

Carney took shots at Trudeau by slamming the government’s carbon tax pause and without mentioning him directly, he criticized Poilievre’s approach to climate change, stating “You have to have a plan, not slogans. We need to continue to raise the bar here in Canada and if you know a party is coming in front of Canadians, whenever the next election is, without a plan, with just slogans, that’s irresponsible.”

It appears Carney is feeling out public opinion before a possible leadership bid. But  Trudeau has so far dismissed calls to resign and despite Carney’s criticism of Poilievre’s climate policy – a policy which he does have, contrary to Carney’s opinion – Canadians will be the ones to make the final decision on what is best for Canada. 

Setting aside Carney’s potential bid for a leadership position and Downe’s brutally honest assessment of Trudeau’s time in office, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many within the Liberal party have lost faith in Trudeau. 

With the Liberals lagging so far behind in the polls and Conservative momentum only building, some might say it’s too late to turn things around. However, judging the narrative Liberals are building, it’s clear that Trudeau is a headache not only for Conservatives, but his own Party as well. 

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