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Tyee Readers Outraged, Disappointed about Trudeau’s Flip on Electoral Reform

Here’s how readers felt when they heard that a campaign promise had been thrown out.

Sharon J. Riley 10 Feb

Sharon is a journalist and researcher from Alberta. She is a regular contributor to the Harper’s Weekly Review, and her writing has been published by Maisonneuve, The Walrus and Harper’s, among others.

It’s clear that many Canadians were surprised — if not filled with seething rage — by Justin Trudeau’s announcement last week that electoral reform was no longer in the mandate for Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.

Having made the promise 1,813 times (at least by NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s count), Trudeau’s abrupt about-face came as a shock to those who truly believed that “2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.”

We asked our readers what they thought about Trudeau’s decision to scrap electoral reform. Over 1,500 responded — and roughly 65 pe rcent declared sheer outrage, plain and simple. Fifteen per cent responded they were disappointed, and another 15 per cent lamented they weren’t surprised — the latter, it seems, had been sceptical of Trudeau’s intentions from the beginning.

Will Trudeau be able to regain voters’ trust, or was this an unredeemable reversal of priorities? For many readers, it seems this was a deafening blow from a leader they had trusted to be a man of his word:

Even though I’m an NDP supporter, I had great hope for Trudeau and was willing to believe his promises. I thought we had seen a generational shift in the Liberal Party.

I had such high hopes that B.C. residents votes would truly count in federal elections. I am furious!

I actively worked to unseat Harper in my riding via Leadnow. My objective was a Conservative defeat and a minority government - NDP or Liberal. When Mulcair committed to a balanced budget, the Liberals became the option. My riding went Liberal, although with the weakest candidate in the race - but she defeated a Cabinet Minister. I believed that if the Conservatives were defeated, we would have a revised voting system next time and I could vote my heart.

One of the reasons, besides getting rid of Harper, I voted for him. I feel totally betrayed.

Others wondered if Trudeau could be trusted to act on other major issues.

His pretend protections for the environment are easily overpowered by more development of the tar sands. If he can’t keep the little promises, like electoral reform, why would we believe him on big issues? His credibility is gone.

[I’m] increasingly disappointed at how many election “promises” have been dropped or very poorly done (timely and serious reconciliation efforts for First Nations, maintaining Paris Accord efforts & environmental efforts in general - Site C, Kinder Morgan approval, etc.) and now he is totally dropping electoral reform.

[I’m] outraged at the sheer number of election promises he made and had no intention of honouring.

[He’s] flip flopped on climate policy, first nations reconciliation, and now electoral reform.

For some readers, the Liberals seem more and more like the Harper Conservatives:

I always figured the Liberals for “Conservatives in Liberal clothing” and I was right. These two parties just keep giving the voting public the “old one two”.... they’re double teaming us and double-crossing us at the same time.

This government is pursuing most of the same policies of the Harper government that it replaced, except that instead of presenting those policies openly, the Liberals are doing it by deceit.

Trudeau’s Liberals during the election were a shining beacon of hope for all Canadians and signalled an end to the dark days of Harper. But that’s not what we’re getting.

I see Harper policies with a veneer of smarter public relations. Pipelines, abrogation of rights, and dishonesty.

The new boss is the same as the old boss.

Readers noted time and time again that not only was this a breaking of a key campaign promise, but that it had larger implications. Namely, readers pointed out that this decision would disillusion young voters who had supported Trudeau’s Liberals.

I really believed that after the 2015 election, I would not have to vote strategically ever again. What a way to let down all those young people who voted for the first time because they believed Trudeau was different from other politicians.

Having every vote count is basic to democracy. The Liberals totally bungled this opportunity to change the electoral system. Where is their proof that there is not enough support? A high percentage of witnesses and people consulted by the special parliamentary committee were in favour of changing to some form of electoral representation. The committee working together and reaching a consensus was a good example of how proportional representation works. What a terrible missed opportunity! What a disincentive for young people to vote.

I think it’s terrible, both because it is time for proportional representation and also because those who believed Trudeau, especially youth, will now feel that they can’t believe any politicians.

A significant portion of readers noted that abandoning electoral reform had cost Trudeau their vote in the next election:

To me, electoral reform was the Liberals’ most important promise. In the next election I will vote NDP or Green.

He really seemed honest and trustworthy, but it would seem I was fooled again by another politician who will lie and say whatever it takes to get elected. I am so disappointed in Mr. Trudeau. I will not be voting for liberals in the next election.

This is why I voted for Trudeau. I see a one term Prime Minister. He is failing us miserably.

He lied. There is nothing more to say, but I will never vote for him again.

And at least one reader wished some karmic ill will on Trudeau himself.

I really hope Trudeau’s hair falls out!!

The Tyee Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather is intended to get the pulse of Tyee readers and the wider community.  [Tyee]

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