Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Economy, Middle-Class, Bonding on the Agenda as Liberal MPs Prepare for Fall

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Economy, Middle-Class, Bonding on the Agenda as Liberal MPs Prepare for Fall

Article excerpt

Liberal MPs in Saguenay for caucus retreat


SAGUENAY, Que. - Liberal MPs began catching up on vacation stories and other tales from outside the political bubble Wednesday evening as they began arriving for a summer retreat to get ready for a year of tough choices as the government figures out how to deliver on its long list of promises.

"It's good for all of us to get together, talk about what issues are coming up in our constituencies, so we can filter it in to the fall agenda," Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said as he greeted his Liberal caucus colleagues in the lobby of a hotel in Saguenay, Que., about 210 kilometres north of Quebec City.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to arrive here Thursday morning, when the meetings begin in earnest, where he will address the national caucus after they have gathered in smaller regional groups.

The Liberals are being encouraged to spend their free time in the area, with a community event promising a chance for local residents to mingle with Trudeau and the MPs scheduled for Thursday evening.

The details of what will take precedence on the fall legislative agenda -- beyond vague assertions the middle class will remain a priority -- have yet to be shared, but Liberal MPs headed into two days of closed-door meetings said they hope for substantial discussions on everything from electoral reform to a review of anti-terror legislation.

Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, the national caucus chair, rhymed off his list of expected topics: the economy, the environment, national security, health care -- "the big issues that Canadians are expecting us to continue to move forward on."

The summer caucus meeting comes on the heels of a cabinet retreat in Sudbury, Ont., where the stagnant economy provided the context for a message that the second year in power will require some patience and acceptance of the fact that the government cannot please everyone all of the time.

Status of Women Minister Patricia Hajdu said she thinks the wider caucus will understand the message.

"I think our job is to do the best that we can to advocate for what we think are the best interests of our constituents, or what the evidence says, and then understand that we won't win every argument," Hajdu said Wednesday evening before joining the women's Liberal caucus for a meeting. …

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