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News

Trudeau Called ‘Liar’ for Breaking Electoral Reform Promise

PM says lack of consensus on replacement system means change can’t go ahead.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall 1 Feb 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee’s reader-funded Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was branded a liar by New Democrat democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen in Ottawa today for abandoning a campaign promise to reform the electoral system.

Trudeau released a new set of mandate letters for cabinet ministers this morning, one of which killed the Liberals’ promised plan to change the way Canadians vote.

During the 2015 campaign, Trudeau promised it would be the last election to take place under the first-past-the-post system in Canada, a system many say is unfair.

The government would explore replacement options, with the ranked ballot system and proportional representation as possibilities.

But Trudeau’s mandate letter to new Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said there is no longer a need for electoral reform.

“A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged,” Trudeau wrote. “Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

The NDP however contends not only has there been a clear desire for voting reform, but it came despite Liberal attempts to dampen enthusiasm.

Cullen said the Trudeau is acting arrogantly.

“What Mr. Trudeau proved himself today was to be a liar, to be the most cynical variety of politician, saying whatever it takes to get elected, then once elected seeking any excuse however weak, however absent, to justify that lie to Canadians,” he told reporters.

Last May, Cullen told The Tyee he was concerned by the Liberals’ lack of urgency on electoral reform, arguing even then that they were running out of time to get a new system in place in time for 2019.

The Liberals were also sharply criticized for their consultation process, with critics saying the only consultation was too broad and appeared designed to fail.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair, heading into Question Period, also said Trudeau lied. Inside, he said the Liberals had made the electoral reform promise 1,813 times before betraying Canadians.

Inside the House, NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice said the Liberals lied and was censured by Speaker Geoff Regan.

Trudeau responded to criticism in Question Period by saying no consensus on reform had been reached during consultations. He then began talking about growing the middle class.

The Liberal government has been criticized for breaking other campaign promises, including a broken commitment to a new process for the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The government also eased restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker program after Trudeau had said it should be scaled back.  [Tyee]

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