A disappointing setback is how proponents feel now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has abandoned a Liberal commitment to champion electoral reform.
“Canadians have been very clear on this, we want some form of proportional representation,” said Kelowna electoral reform advocate Wayne Broughton.
“But that is not what Justin Trudeau wants it seems. He has chosen his party over Canadians.”
Trudeau’s long-held promise the way Canadians vote in federal elections was made public in a mandate letter to newly appointed Demcratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.
In the letter, Trudeau writes: “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”
Brought called Trudeau’s response a political smokescreen for the Liberals.
“It is a broken promise but I’m not sure where we go from here. Nothing will change for the 2019 federal election, beyond that I’m not sure what the next step will be.”
Kelly Carmichael, spokesperson for Fair Vote Canada, said throughout a process that has involved a House of Commons special committee on electoral reform, town hall meetings hosted by local MPs from all parties and a heavily-criticized online survey, the message has been clear from Canadians calling for change.
“This has come out of left field as we expected electoral reform legislation to be introduced in May, and all signs pointed to proportional representation, but I guess the Liberals just didn’t like what they were hearing,” Carmichael said.
“Trudeau’s announcement is all about politics and has nothing to do with democracy.”
Carmichael pointed out what she feels is the failure of the current voting system, the Liberals forming a majority government with 39 per cent of the popular vote which translated into 4.6 million votes.
“Essentially, it means that the vote from half the country doesn’t matter and it must continues to further make people feel cynical about the voting process, about politicians not following through on what they say.”
Stephen Fuhr, Liberal MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, has not yet released his own statement on Trudeau’s decision, but during the last election campaign, like his party at the time, he was a vocal supporter of bringing reform to our national voting system.