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'We need to regroup,' says Liberal minister and Ontario campaign co-chair in light of byelection loss

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A member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet and the party's Ontario co-chair for the next campaign says the Liberals "need to regroup" after a shocking overnight byelection loss to Pierre Poilievre's Conservatives.

In an interview on CTV News Channel's Power Play with Vassy Kapelos, Minister Karina Gould said the Liberals now need to spend the summer recalibrating and reconnecting with Canadians. 

Though, she doesn't think this disappointing defeat means Trudeau's leadership is in peril, nor should an early election be called to allow Canadians across the country to have their say as Poilievre is pushing for.

"The election is 16 months away, and that's a lifetime in politics, many different things can happen," Gould said. "We need to regroup." 

Her comments come as some of her caucus colleagues quietly expressed more acute concern about the fate and state of the party under Trudeau's continued leadership, given it now appears any current Liberal riding could be in play.

Gould said that while the Liberals did not expect to lose one of the party's longest-held and safest seats to kick off months of the barbecue circuit, the message received is they "need to listen more closely to what the voters – not just in Toronto-St. Paul's, but right across the country – are telling us."

"But no, I don't think it means that the prime minister needs to resign."

She said there will be "lots of conversations that happen over the course of the summer amongst caucus, about how we reflect on the results." That will include hearing from their defeated candidate and former staffer Leslie Church, about what issues came up most on the doorstep.

What the Liberals do with that information, whether it's a policy change or other course corrections, remains to be seen.

"It's a bit early to say what we're going to do because we just got the results early this morning," Gould said.

"It's going to be important for caucus members to get out, talk to their communities, talk to their constituents, hear what they have to say, and then for us to come back and, you know, really think about what our plan is moving forward," she said.

Asked whether her fellow cabinet colleague Chrystia Freeland's election-day remark, describing Conservatives as "cold, and cruel, and small," tracks with the party's pledge now to listen to those who voted against them, Gould said the Liberals also need to stay positive and true to their values.

She said she does not believe people who voted for the Conservatives are cold, cruel, or small.

"I believe that Canadians make decisions based on, you know, the best information that they have. And I genuinely believe that every Canadian is making a decision because they believe that they're doing it in the best interests of Canada," Gould said. "They just have a different idea of how to get there." 

You can watch Gould's full interview in the video player at the top of this article.

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