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Trudeau asks for calm at Liberal caucus meeting as troubles swirl at home and abroad

Trudeau asks for calm at Liberal caucus meeting as troubles swirl at home and abroad
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rallied the Liberal ranks on Sunday with a speech that preached calm and focus in the face of worries at home and abroad.

With the House of Commons due to resume sitting on Jan. 28, Trudeau told a Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa that they have to again offer a “hopeful vision” of Canada this year.

“People across the country, and really, around the world, are anxious about what they see happening on the news, and in their communities,” he said during an approximately eight-minute public speech.

“Once-stable jobs are being written out by automation and A.I. (artificial intelligence),” Trudeau told the caucus gathering. “Climate change is an increasingly dire threat, with floods and fires destroying whole towns at a blistering pace. The world’s two largest economies are at odds, and our two founding European nations are going through unprecedented political turmoil.”

With all this swirling about, the Liberal leader said the Grits have to stay focused, and vowed that they would fight on and address the various challenges.

“Canadians are counting on us to keep our heads and be ourselves,” he added.

Trudeau’s remarks come as his Liberal government is facing challenges of its own, such as spats with China and Saudi Arabia, struggles over building pipelines and a byelection in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South that turned messy for the Liberals.

The next federal election is also set for October, with polls suggesting that the Conservatives and their leader, Andrew Scheer, have made considerable headway with Canadians. A poll published in December by Forum Research, for example, found the Tories leading the Grits in support, 43 per cent to 34 per cent.

Scheer has likewise been holding town halls ahead of Parliament’s scheduled return next week, including one on Saturday in Toronto.

“I heard in North York what I’ve been hearing across the country: Life is getting more expensive and people are looking for relief,” the Tory leader tweeted Saturday night. “And Justin Trudeau is only making things worse.”

Moreover, public opinion data released last week by the Angus Reid Institute showed that 58 per cent of people the firm surveyed agreed that a lack of new oil pipeline capacity is a “crisis.” Fifty per cent also said that the Trudeau government has been doing “too little” to build new pipeline capacity.

Trudeau, however, took a few shots of his own at the Conservative opposition on Sunday, accusing the Tories of lacking plans for the economy and environment.

“But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an agenda,” the prime minister claimed, citing Conservative votes against Liberal policies, such as increasing Canada Pension Plan premiums and future benefits. 

“Make no mistake,” Trudeau added, “the Conservatives pretend to be for the people, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

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