Federal Liberal caucus regroups as polls show decline in popularity

The federal Liberal caucus is gathering in London, Ontario this week to regroup after a summer in which the party’s popularity declined among voters concerned about inflation and a housing shortage. The three-day retreat will take place a week before the House of Commons returns from its summer recess.

Polling by Abacus Data suggests that the Liberal government is faring worse than ever before, with perceptions of the government’s performance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal favorability rating, the desire for change among Canadians, and vote intentions all declining. If an election were held this month, recent polling from Abacus shows that 40% of respondents would vote for the Conservatives, compared to just 26% for the Liberals.

Respondents believe that the government has either no plan or a bad plan for managing the cost of living, growing the economy, and building more housing. The online survey conducted from Aug. 29 to Sept. 4 included 3,595 respondents.

Liberal MPs are divided over how much the government needs to change and how seriously to take the polls since the next election is not scheduled for another two years. However, some MPs acknowledged that their constituents are facing acute affordability and housing concerns.

Brendan Hanley, the Liberal MP for Yukon and the party’s caucus chair for the Prairies and the North, said Canadians are frustrated and struggling, with affordability and housing as their top concerns. He believes that past federal investments have made a difference, but there is still more for the government to catch up on.

Kody Blois, a Nova Scotia MP and the Liberal Party’s Atlantic caucus chair, hopes the government focuses on affordability, housing, the economy, and climate change as it returns to the House of Commons. He suggested removing the carbon tax from home-heating fuel and increasing the carbon tax rebate for rural residents.

George Chahal, the Liberals’ only MP from Calgary, said housing is a key priority, and Ottawa could help municipalities by ensuring faster timelines for project approvals. Overall, he believes the government has time to execute its housing plans and show progress before the next election.

James Maloney, a Toronto Liberal MP and the party’s Ontario caucus chair, is optimistic about the government’s prospects but recognizes a communication gap between its housing efforts and public awareness. He believes the polls reflect tough times but not bad policy on the part of the federal government.