Toronto – February 7, 2017 – “2015 will be the last election held under our first-past-the-post electoral system.” So Liberal leader Justin Trudeau proudly proclaimed during the last federal election campaign. When he was elected Prime Minister, he repeated the promise in his speech from the throne. In a December 2016 interview with the Toronto Star, he once again repeated this promise.
Many Canadians, especially young voters, were anxious to be rid of Stephen Harper and his majority government, which received only 39.7 percent of the popular vote in 2011. They were drawn to Trudeau’s promise out of a desire to feel like their votes really counted. But now voters see that Trudeau was all talk and no action. After winning his own majority government with only 39.6 percent of the popular vote, Trudeau is keeping the status quo because it is works for Liberals.
Trudeau is contributing to the growing cynicism felt by many voters – a sentiment fueled by politicians always doing what is in their own interest rather than looking out for the public interest. His claim that there was no consensus on electoral reform doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Almost 90 percent of experts and 88 percent of citizens who testified at committee hearings on voting reform called on the government to adopt a proportional voting system. In the 2015 Federal Election, two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties promising electoral reform.
The world is facing uncertain times. Misogyny, racism, homophobia, and Islamaphobia are rearing their ugly heads south of the border and here in Canada as well. If ever there was a time to move ahead with changes to our electoral system – in order to increase the diversity of our parliament, improve the representation of women in politics, ensure that young people’s voices are heard, and encourage politicians of all political stripes to work together for the common good – that time is now.
Starting today, we must keep up the fight for a proportional electoral system, and we must let Trudeau know that we expect him to live up to his promises. You can do your part by sending a message to the Prime Minister here.