Rallies held across Canada to protest Trudeau’s change of heart on electoral reform
Published Saturday, February 11, 2017 7:09PM AST
There was a show of anger at rallies across the country on Saturday as thousands protested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s broken promise on electoral reform.
Trudeau made the commitment during his 2015 campaign. Demonstrators at Fredericton City Hall say they’ve been lied to.
“We had a crystal clear promise and so many Canadians voted for the government because of this promise,” said Andrew MacLean of Fair Vote Canada. “Disappointment is probably not a strong enough word to describe how we feel.”
The prime minister explained his decision at a Town Hall in Yellowknife on Friday.
“I felt that it was not in the best interest of our country or of our future that I turned my back on that promise, and I know people will be disappointed,” Trudeau said.
Demonstrations were also held in Antigonish and Windsor.
“I was just crushed because I’ve been counting on this so I wouldn't have to do strategic voting,” said one protester. “I voted my heart last time, but there was a lot of pressure on me not to put Harper back in.”
“I thought maybe this time it would be different, but unfortunately, as we see now, politicians will be politicians. Promises will be broken, and it’s disgusting,’ said another protester.
On Thursday, the prime minister namedropped Conservative leadership candidate Kelly Leitch as a reason to avoid electoral reform.
But electoral reform supporters disagree.
“Under proportional representative, virtually every country that uses it has a threshold of between three or five per cent,” said Andrew MacLean. “You don't get representation if you don't get that, so it does keep out a lot of fringe voices.”
Those rallying Saturday say the discussion isn't over.
“The key thing for being an activist is to just tell them you're not going away. You’re staying there and you'll be there the day after and the day after and the day after,” said one participant.
Trudeau says a referendum on the issue is not the way to go, saying that national unity would be threatened if electoral reform went any further.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.