Politics

Trudeau rules out coalition, promises gender equity in new cabinet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today ruled out forming a coalition and said his minority government's new cabinet will have gender balance when it's sworn in on Nov. 20.

PM says he will do more to address western 'frustration,' regrets 'divisiveness' of campaign messaging

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct. 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today ruled out a governing coalition and said his minority government's new cabinet will have gender balance when it's sworn in on Nov. 20.

Holding his first news conference at the National Press Theatre since winning a minority government in Monday's election, Trudeau said he will work with other parties, including the Bloc Québécois, to advance shared goals.

In the coming weeks, Trudeau said, he plans to sit down with each of the party leaders to discuss their priorities and how they can work together.

"They will be various and varied conversations, but I can tell you it is not in our plans at all to form any sort of formal coalition — formal or informal coalition," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his first post-election news conference, says that he will have do a lot more listening to try and bridge the divide with western Canadians. 1:26

He also said his government will continue with plans to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which he said is "in Canada's best interests." The NDP opposes the pipeline expansion project.

The Liberals did not elect any MPs in Alberta or Saskatchewan Monday, presenting Trudeau with a pressing problem of regional representation. Trudeau said today he has spoken already with the premiers of both provinces and will work to see the concerns of Western Canadians are addressed by his government.

Reaching out to the West

"It's extremely important that the government works for all Canadians, and as I have endeavoured to do over the past years and as I will do even more now, deliberately, I will be reaching out to leaders across the country, reaching out specifically to westerners to hear from them," he said.

Trudeau noted that Canadian governments have operated without regional representation in the past. He said he has worked to address the interests of Western Canadians, citing the government's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, but recognizes now that there's much more to be done.

"We recognize that there is a frustration with the economic challenges being faced by Albertans," he said. "My focus as a government is going to be on responding to those preoccupations, the way we're going to be working to make life more affordable for all Canadians.

"But we need to recognize that different parts of the country go through different challenges and making sure we're really listening to them is something that's going to be key for me."

In terms of the top priorities for the minority government's first few months in office, Trudeau said he will focus on measures to tackle climate change and make life more affordable for Canadians.

He said he will put the introduction of a universal tax cut and legislation to expand medical assistance in dying on the front burner.

13 seats short of majority

The Liberals won 157 seats in the House of Commons, falling well short of the 170 seats needed for a majority government. The Liberals won 184 seats in the 2015 election.

The Conservatives took 121 seats this time, while the Bloc Québécois won 32 and the New Democrats have a caucus of 24. The Green Party won three seats and former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was re-elected in her Vancouver Granville riding as an Independent.

Trudeau faces challenges in working with provincial and territorial leaders; several of them are strongly opposed to the government's carbon tax. He also has to contend with the bad blood he stirred up during the campaign by directly attacking several Conservative premiers over budget cuts, and claiming that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer would do the same.

Nasty 40-day campaign

The 40-day election campaign saw the two main parties push their campaign messages with an aggressive tone and personal attacks, with both Trudeau and Scheer ginning up fears about their opponents' plans and how they would harm Canadians.

Trudeau acknowledged today that the tone and substance of the debates during the campaign was lacking, and took some personal responsibility for it.

"I think many of us regret the tone and the divisiveness and the disinformation that were all too present features of this past election campaign. I think Canadians expect us to work together, to listen to each other, to figure out a way to move forward that isn't as divisive and challenging as this election was," he said.

"I think there were a lot of issues that weren't properly addressed. I think there were big, substantive ideas that weren't fully debated in this election campaign and I regret that. And I recognize that much of this campaign tended to be around me, and I do hold a bit of responsibility for that."

Scheer reviews campaign

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer took questions during a live Facebook event today. He said he's meeting with key campaign officials to do a "thorough review" of the party's election performance.

"We made some great progress but we need to do better next time," he said. "This is really the first step, the first important step, in replacing Justin Trudeau's Liberal government."

Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer held a Facebook Live Wednesday afternoon, saying he is disappointed with the results of Monday's election but sees them as a 'first step' in defeating Justin Trudeau. 2:17

Scheer said the Conservatives made "incredible gains" in reducing the Liberals to a minority and winning the popular vote. He said the "second step" is to work even harder in the coming months to ensure the Liberals are ousted next time.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted this afternoon that he had just spoken with his caucus members.

"Just got off a call with our new NDP caucus & we're excited to continue fighting for the things Canadians desperately need action on. We're going to make sure that Ottawa is working for people, not the ultra-rich and powerful. Let's keep this going," he tweeted.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday, along with her two caucus colleagues, to announce the party's "terms in the minority Parliament."

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