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House of Commons to break for the holidays, return in January

Trudeau brushes past Singh health statements, Poilievre talks transforming hurt to hope
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre addresses caucus during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended the fall sitting of the House of Commons by saying he shares the New Democrats’ concerns around health care, as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre instructed his members of Parliament to stand on the side of “common people.”

Members of Parliament agreed to a motion that would see them rising on Wednesday for a holiday break. They are not scheduled to return until the end of January.

Trudeau, speaking to reporters before he entered the House of Commons for question period, brushed off NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s recent statements that he was willing to pull his party’s support from its confidence-and-supply agreement over his government’s approach to health care.

“The reality is we’re ambitious parties that are progressive in our values in trying to get things done for Canadians.”

In a speech to his party’s caucus earlier in the day, Poilievre painted a picture of a Canada that is hurting and told his MPs it’s their job as the official Opposition to transform that hurt into hope.

“To inspire people that a real improvement in their lives is possible, that the dream that brought them here as immigrants, or the dream with which they were raised when they were born here, can be rekindled,” he said.

He repeated his attacks on Liberal government spending, which he said is driving up inflation, and its efforts to ban “assault-style” weapons. The Conservatives have said that list of weapons includes popular hunting firearms.

Poilievre’s meeting with his caucus came two days after the party lost a byelection in the Greater Toronto Area to the Liberals.

The government is heading into the Christmas break buoyed by that unexpectedly large win in Mississauga-Lakeshore, a riding in the vote-rich 905 district around Toronto where many analysts say elections are now won and lost.

Charles Sousa, a former provincial Liberal finance minister in Ontario, took more than 51 per cent of the vote in a seat the Conservatives targeted heavily in the last general election.

The Tories are downplaying the loss given that they have only won in the riding once in the last 20 years, but it is still the kind of seat the Conservatives need to hold if they want to form government.

The Liberals’ explanation for the win gives a glimpse into what their strategy may be against the Conservatives going into 2023: to paint Poilievre as sowing seeds of anger and supporting anti-government movements, such as the “Freedom Convoy.”

Trudeau has recently said good government policy doesn’t “fit on a bumper sticker.”

On his way into his first Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sousa said the message from voters in his riding is that they want their representatives “to be positive, to show some unity, to work together for the ultimate goal of serving them effectively.”

“They’re not into the reckless stuff or the gimmicks, or the sowing of division or feeding of anger,” he said.

—Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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