Liberal stalwart calls for new party leader, predicts Trudeau will decide soon whether to quit  

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A Liberal stalwart and a former prime minister’s chief of staff is calling on the party to find a new leader to replace Justin Trudeau.

In a blunt and at times stinging opinon piece for National Newswatch published Wednesday, Sen. Percy Downe wrote that the party should replace Trudeau as Liberal leader before the next election.

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“The prudent course of action is for another Liberal Leader to rise from the impressive Liberal caucus and safeguard those policies (Trudeau) was actually able to accomplish,” wrote Downe, who was prime minister Jean Chrétien’s chief of staff and served in many other senior positions.

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“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.”

Downe also told the Hill Times in an interview published Wednesday that he believes that Trudeau could make the decision by February whether to stay on for the next election or step down before then.

That month will be the 40th anniversary of when Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, went for his famous “walk in the snow” in which he decided he would not run again for prime minister in February 1984.

Downe was appointed as senator for Prince Edward Island by Chrétien in 2003 after serving as his chief of staff from 2001 to 2003. Prior to that he had served in various ministries in the Chrétien government.

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 blamed the Trudeau government for creating the conditions that could lead to its own defeat to the Conservatives, led by Pierre Poilievre.

“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 wrote.

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He 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.

“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.”

He said other Liberals had given up on the Trudeau government “who expected government announcements to be followed by government action.”

“Inaction on delivery and lack of fiscal prudence have now returned with a vengeance to haunt this government,” Downe wrote.

Downe said it was critical for Liberals to revamp because the party was the only one who could beat the Conservatives, who would “change Canada” based on an agenda that “all progressives will oppose.”

Downe said it might be possible for the Trudeau and the NDP to pull together to hold up a minority government until the next election, which must be held by October 2025.

“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?” he wrote.

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