Canadians protest Liberals' broken electoral reform promise across the country

By The Canadian Press
February 11, 2017 - 4:04pm

TORONTO — Protesters staged demonstrations across Canada Saturday to attack the governing Liberals' decision to abandon their promise of electoral reform.

Hundreds of people turned out to the Toronto protest, some holding signs critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demanding proportional representation.

Trudeau repeatedly promised to get rid of the first-past-the-post voting system in time for the 2019 election, both during his campaign in the last election and again as prime minister.

But earlier this month, he announced that electoral reform would not be part of the mandate of newly-appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

Erich Vogt said he comes from Germany — a country that's had proportional representation for decades. He said he had hoped to see Trudeau bring in a similar system in Canada.

"I wanted to believe him, and I did," he said. "I am very disappointed."

"People feel that they have been cheated. Politicians walk back on their words," Vogt added. "And Mr. Trudeau should know that we will not take this sitting down. That we will stand up, and we will march, and we will be visible and we will be loud. And we will remind him that promises are to be kept."

Sharon Bider of Toronto said she was devastated when Trudeau reneged on his promise to change the electoral system.

"I understand that there's a lot of turmoil right now, but that didn't justify shutting the system down and shutting the options down," she said.

She says she believed the prime minister when he said that 2015 would be the last election that used the first-past-the-post system.

But Trudeau has defended his decision by saying that Canadians haven't expressed a clear preference for electoral reform — let alone a consensus.

Toronto's protest was one of more than 20 planned for Saturday across Canada, from Antigonish, N.S., to Victoria.

In Vancouver, dozens of people gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, chanting "we want PR."

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