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'Swimming into the tide': Liberal MPs talk summer strategy as they prepare to hit the doors down in the polls

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Heading back to their ridings for the summer, Liberal MPs say while it's "not a happy time," they're gearing up to hit the doorsteps to try and connect with Canadians directly in an effort to turn the tide for their party that's been persistently down in the polls.

Setting out on the all-important barbecue circuit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and their caucuses will be using the summer break from Parliament to pitch their parties' policies and plans to make the country better, all in an effort to shore-up voter support ahead of the next election.

Asked on their way in to their final Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa before the parliamentary break about how they're feeling amid fresh polling showing the Liberals and Trudeau are further trailing Poilievre's Conservatives, MPs acknowledged the work ahead.

"We're swimming into the tide. It's tough. No good deed goes unpunished. We have to be resolute, we have to have faith in our constituents, we have to have faith in what we're doing, and we do," Liberal MP Sean Casey said.

Asked about the tone as MPs are about to wrap up their work in Ottawa, Casey described it as "not a happy time," citing the hyper-partisanship that he worries will only worsen the longer the electorate doesn't push back at what he called Poilievre's "bad behaviour."

"He is emboldened, as is his caucus, it's a bad look," Casey said. He said he's not sure what the Liberals should do, "except continue to do good things," and hope the electorate tunes back in as the next campaign gets closer.

The Conservatives, pushing a message of bringing home "common sense," have seen a surge in support across the country over the last year, and are starting their summer leader's tour in Quebec, where the party is hoping to make further gains. Throughout, Trudeau has remained resolute in his leadership of the party and the vision it's presenting.

Casey said that while it's "frustrating" for his party to be in the political position it's in, that won't change his strategy this summer.

"I'll be knocking on doors two or three days a week, and being in the riding as much as possible," he said.

"The more one-on-one conversations we can have with people about what we're doing, the better chance we have of breaking through and getting people to pay better attention. I don't know of any other way to do it," Casey said.

'Get the word out'

"Just work harder. And just make sure that you get the word out on the work that you are doing," was Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan's advice to his peers. "You know, there's no magic formula to this. Be in your riding, be present in your riding. Talk about what people are talking about, be where they are."

Tourism Minister and Liberal national campaign co-chair Soraya Martinez Ferrada said Canadians' frustrations are not dissimilar from other countries where the cost of living challenges are also being felt, but her message is to be wary of people offering easy solutions to complex problems.

"We need to talk to people, and we need to go and see Canadians, and knock on doors and talk to people. That's what I'm planning to do," she said.

Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden was among the MPs who said they aren't focused on the polls, and instead remains focused on his community and connecting with his constituents. He's optimistic that with interest rates coming down, Canadians will start to notice related affordability improvements.

"Policy and ideas are way more important than slogans… If it's not good policy, it's not going to improve people's lives," van Koeverden said.

Liberal MP Francis Drouin said that while it may be "tougher to communicate" after nine years, he is still satisfied with the direction the party is headed.

"This summer will be time to connect back with constituents more on a more consistent basis. Yeah, we're going through some tough times, but I think that's normal," Drouin said.

"I'm working for a country and party that I believe in… I'm going to be convincing my constituents they should still be voting for me. You vote for a person on the ballot, not a party," said Liberal MP Anthony Housefather.

The House of Commons will adjourn for a nearly three-month hiatus on Wednesday afternoon, clearing the schedules of MPs who are now descending on their hometowns, after debating often late into the night, and passing more than two dozen bills in as many weeks. 

When they return in the fall, Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon said the Liberals plan to be "pretty ruthlessly focused on making lives better for Canadians in their daily life."

"When Canadians take stock, as they will, over the summer over a good barbecue, of how their lives have been positively impacted, couples saving tens of thousands of dollars on child-care costs, seniors getting dental care … people able to make ends meet … they will understand that this is a government focused on their needs," he said.

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