OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged a room of top Liberal donors Monday evening to be friendly with their neighbours as his team navigates a “very politically challenging minority government” situation in Parliament.
Trudeau shared his message to a crowd of “Laurier Club” supporters — the name given to donors who give more than $1,500 to the party in a year. Approximately 600 people attended the donor appreciation event at the National Arts Centre, according to organizers.
“Say hi to your friends and neighbours and rest up for the years ahead — because we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” the prime minister advised the noisy room. People milled around the cavernous space, nibbling on the catered sliders, tacos, and sushi while Trudeau listed statistics.
The party recruited the help of 90,000 volunteers during the recent election campaign, he said, adding they helped to make 21 million calls and door knocks.
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He repeated the party’s main election planks. Trudeau pledged to move forward on climate action, to amend gun laws, support the middle class, and to make progress on reconciliation, calling them “big, ambitious challenges.”
Another challenge ahead for the party is national unity. Voters shut Liberals out of Alberta and Saskatchewan on election night. The new minority mandate “means a lot of listening — a lot of politicking — and a lot of staying connected with your neighbours,” Trudeau said.
Liberal Party president Suzanne Cowan was in the crowd as well as election campaign director Jeremy Broadhurst. Ministers and MPs also attended the event, including John McKay, who at one point held onto his beef slider with one hand while using the other to help a seated woman to her feet.
After the prime minister finished his remarks a cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” played while donors organized themselves into a line for photos with Trudeau.
With the politics of a minority Parliament and the chance of suddenly being thrown into an election looming overhead, all federal leaders have said they are ready for another campaign should the government fall.
But some parties’ coffers may be healthier than others after this year’s 40-day campaign.
Conservatives led the pack with $10.1 million collected from 62,000 donors between July 1 and September 30, according to third-quarter filings submitted to Elections Canada.
Liberals raised $7.3 million from 53,000 donors during the same period. The NDP were well behind, hauling $2.65 million from almost 21,000 donors.
Detailed breakdowns of election spending have yet to be finalized. Candidate expense returns are due Feb. 21, 2020.