OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is backing away from a promise on electoral reform by claiming they didn’t get enough votes in the past federal election to reform the current first-past-the-post system.
“I think we need to remember that as a result of our first-past-the-post system, only 39.5% of people voted for us,” explained Trudeau in an interview with Le Devoir. “This simply isn’t a sufficient mandate to reform the system that produced this outcome.”
“Now I did say that the 2015 federal election would be the last election that uses first-past-the-post, but I was expecting at least half or two-thirds of Canadians to vote for me and my party. I should have crushed Saskatchewan and Alberta with 75% of the vote, but – again, due to factors out of our control at the time – could only muster five seats.”
Trudeau also noted that many of his MPs didn’t receive a majority of votes in their riding as a justification for backing away from his promise.
“Just look at Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef. She only won her riding by less that 44% of the vote! How can a Minister have the legitimacy of leading the change of our electoral system when 56% of her constituents voted against her?”
The Prime Minister added that the only way for his government to gain legitimacy to carry out a new voting system, such as proportional representation or preferential balloting, would to re-elect a Liberal government using the current system several times over.
“But voters shouldn’t think that voter reform will never happen; we’ll be strongly committed to the idea next time we’re in opposition.”