Liberal MP Ken McDonald has done an about-face after saying a leadership review was needed and that his party is past its expiry date. He now says he is not calling for a leadership review.
Avalon MP now says he’s not calling for a review, says prime minister is a ‘great campaigner’
Ryan Cooke · CBC News
· Posted: Jan 25, 2024 9:36 AM EST | Last Updated: January 25
After saying in a recent interview that the Liberals should have a leadership review, Avalon MP Ken McDonald, pictured here in a file image, said in a statement Thursday that he’s not calling for one. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)Liberal MP Ken McDonald has done an about-face on comments to a Radio-Canada reporter this week when he said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be subject to a leadership review.
In a statement sent Thursday morning, McDonald walked back his comments, insisting he wasn’t calling for a leadership review.
“The intent of my recent public comments was not to personally call for a leadership review, and I am not calling for one now,” said McDonald, the member of Parliament for Newfoundland’s Avalon riding.
Despite his statement Thursday, McDonald was clear in his comments to Radio-Canada reporter Laurence Martin in a recent interview that he wanted to see a leadership review, and that he wasn’t sure if Trudeau was the right leader for the party heading into the next election.
WATCH | Ken McDonald’s full comments on a leadership review:
Liberal MP Ken McDonald wants leadership review, says there’s ‘hatred’ for Trudeau in Atlantic CanadaWhile he stopped short of saying the prime minister should step down, Liberal MP Ken McDonald — who represents the Avalon riding — tells Radio-Canada’s Laurence Martin a change is needed and he anticipates the Conservatives making major inroads in the Atlantic provinces. McDonald has been on the outs with his Liberal party before, voting with the Conservatives on a motion to abolish carbon pricing.
“The government now of today is getting to be an old government,” McDonald said in the interview, published Wednesday. “People are thinking maybe it’s time for a change. I tell everybody: every leader, every party has a best-before date. Our best-before date is here. So we either have to change things up in a way to make people think we’re new again, or we’re able to do better going forward. But that’s not something I have control of.”
“You seem to suggest that there needs to be some sort of a shakeup, like maybe a leadership shakeup or something?” Martin asked.
“Even a leadership review, right? Like—” said McDonald.
“You want a leadership review?” asked Martin.
“A leadership review,” continued McDonald. “Normally, in most circumstances in politics and especially in the federal government, if you go from a majority government to a minority government, there’s supposed to be a leadership review. That hasn’t happened. And we went in a minority in 2019 … and then we went to another minority in ’21.”
“So you think at least there should be a leadership review in the Liberal party?” Martin asked.
“Yes,” he responded. “Let’s clear the air. Let’s, you know, 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 of the direction the party is going.”
“And if there were a review like that, would you continue supporting Justin Trudeau or would you look for somebody else?” Martin asked.
“I would want to see the slate of candidates that would come forward and hear from them individually and then I would make up my mind,” McDonald said.
“So it’s not clear for you right now whether Justin Trudeau is the right leader for the Liberal party?”
“No. It’s not clear.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in power since 2015 but has faced declining popularity and questions about his leadership as a fourth election looms. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)Other Atlantic MPs silentCBC/Radio-Canada asked 15 Liberal MPs throughout Atlantic Canada to respond to McDonald’s comments on Wednesday. Zero responded.
While McDonald stopped short of calling for Trudeau to step down during the interview, he was unequivocal in saying he wasn’t sure if he would support Trudeau in the coming election.
On Thursday, McDonald took a much different tone.
“As I said, I believe that the prime minister is a smart politician, a great campaigner, and I know he still has the best interest of Canadians at heart,” the statement reads.
“I will continue to support my caucus colleagues and the prime minister as I’ve done since 2015.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Cooke is a multiplatform journalist with CBC News in St. John’s. His work often takes a deeper look at social issues and the human impact of public policy. Originally from rural Newfoundland, he attended the University of Prince Edward Island and worked for newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada before joining CBC in 2016. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from Laurence Martin, Patrick Butler, Radio-Canada