HALIFAX -- As the federal Liberals head into the next campaign, the advice they heard from a former top U.S. Democrat operative was “you have to be prepared to push back hard.”

That was the message former U.S. president Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod brought to the Liberal Party of Canada convention, during a sit-down talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts.

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Asked what his advice for the room was, as the Liberals get ready to campaign against what Butts called “a very aggressive” opponent, Axelrod said reinforcing positive politics won’t be enough.

“I appreciate, because I was part of a campaign like it, how positive your campaign was in 2015… but the world is a tough, competitive place, and people will do anything to recapture it,” Axelrod said.

“Particularly opponents who don’t feel a stake in government, who don’t feel a stake in the notion of a society that’s unified.”

It's the last convention before the 2019 federal election, and the coming campaign was a key topic of conversation throughout the sessions on Friday, including from a panel of Liberal MPs who won seats in byelections, and during a panel on encouraging more women to run.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived at the convention Friday evening and was in the main hall to hear Axelrod’s advice.

Trudeau is scheduled to address the convention Saturday afternoon, after delegates finalize debate and vote on the policy priorities party members want to see reflected in the next election platform.

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