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Trudeau backs away from promise of electoral reform

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be backing away from his pledge of electoral reform.

CTV reports, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suggesting electoral reform might not happen after all, despite an election promise that last year’s vote would be the last one under the existing system. And he also suggested there’s less need for electoral reform now that the Conservatives are out of power.”

In an interview with Le Devoir today, Trudeau commented, “Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people who were unhappy with the government and his approach that people said, ‘We need electoral reform in order to stop having governments we don’t like’. However, under the current system, they now have a government with which they are more satisfied. And the thirst to change the electoral system is less striking.”

The Globe and Mail notes, “Recent polls suggest that the Liberals would do at least as well – and possibly better – if an election was held under first-past-the-post system today. A Forum Research Inc. survey released this week suggests that Mr. Trudeau’s party could win 240 seats under the existing system.”

That article also notes, “[Trudeau’s comments] come as the government ends months of riding-by-riding consultations with Canadians about the changes they would like to see made to the way federal elections are constructed. A Commons committee is now tasked with the job of sorting through the findings and making recommendations about what type of system would best suit this country.”

The CTV article adds, “The government set up a special committee last spring to study electoral reform options, listening to expert witnesses and hearing from Canadians. Liberal officials say the committee heard a range of views during a series of cross-country committee meetings and townhall events.”

The Fredericton, Prince Albert and NWT chapters presented their arguments in support of proportional representation to this parliamentary committee. The NWT, Peterborough, Quill Plains (Wynyard), Regina, Thunder Bay, and Montreal chapters also attended consultations held by the federal Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef. The Calgary chapter attended a town hall held by their MP on this issue, while the Brandon-Westman and Comox Valley chapters organized their own events. Immediately following the October 19, 2015 election, the Guelph, Nelson, Penticton, London, Peel and Peterborough chapters met with their newly-elected MPs on this issue.

The Special Committee on Electoral Reform closed its public consultation period on October 7 and will be presenting its report to the House of Commons on December 1. The Liberals had set a deadline of May 2017 to introduce legislation on electoral reform.

The Council of Canadians has long endorsed proportional representation.