Whitehorse Daily Star

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SHATTERED HEARTS ON VALENTINE’S DAY – Yukoners expecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would keep his 2015 promise to reform Canada’s electoral system protest Tuesday afternoon outside Yukon MP Larry Bagnell’s constituency office. The MP was not on hand.

Yukoners protest Liberals’ broken promise

Roses are red, violets are blue, these protesters say that Trudeau lied to you.

By Sidney Cohen on February 15, 2017

Roses are red, violets are blue, these protesters say that Trudeau lied to you.

On an unseasonably warm Valentine’s Day, dozens of disheartened Yukoners gathered outside Yukon MP Larry Bagnell’s office on Black Street to voice their displeasure over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to abandon electoral reform.

Tuesday’s demonstration, organized by Lead Now Yukon, followed similar protests across the country last Saturday.

Protesters charged Trudeau with breaking the hearts of Canadians by going against his word.

Speakers, including Gerald Haase, the federal Green Party’s Yukon riding president, called for a system of proportional representation – “one that fosters inclusion and greater consensus.”

Trudeau campaigned on the promise that 2015 would be the last year an election would be decided using first-past-the-post.

Months of consultations followed with experts and the public through government-led town halls, community gatherings and an online survey. After that, Trudeau concluded that no particular voting system had emerged as the popular choice, and that a referendum “would not be in Canada’s best interest.”

In his mandate to Karina Gould, the new minister of Democratic Institutions who was appointed last month, Trudeau wrote, “Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

Lead Now Yukon member Julia Duchesne said she felt “extreme disappointment” to learn Trudeau is scrapping electoral reform.

Though she wasn’t shocked by his apparent change of heart, she said the prime minister can’t expect to get away with breaking this key campaign pledge.

In Iqualuit last week, Trudeau suggested that a system of proportional representation would allow “fringe voices” to “hold the balance of power” in the House of Commons.

In Duchesne’s view, Trudeau was playing on Canadians’ unease over “extremist” and “alt-politics” – the kind of rhetoric that has come to define the U.S. Trump administration, that permeated Brexit, and inspired far-right movements in France and Germany.

“It’s fear mongering,” she said.

“From a centrist, moderate party like the Liberals, we’re always going to hear that fringe parties are dangerous, but I don’t consider the Green Party to be a dangerous fringe party.”

Duchesne believes Canada is low-risk for the ascendancy of extremism.

“I don’t think it’s a danger in Canada and it’s worth it to balance out the power in parliament a little bit more,” she said.

Erik Miller, another protester, said he wants fringe voices in Parliament.

“Far-right voices are already in the House of Commons,” he said.

“We need to see Green voices beyond just Elizabeth (May). We need to see more orange voices, we need to see people voicing dissent, raising issues that aren’t being raised.”

He predicted Trudeau would abandon electoral reform the moment a Liberal majority was called on election night in October 2015.

A lot of Canadians voted Liberal because the party echoed the NDP’s promise to reform the voting system, said Miller, and they were afraid of another Stephen Harper mandate.

He is in favour of a referendum on how voting happens in Canada.

One argument against a referendum is that not enough Canadians are engaged in the issue of electoral reform to draw significant voter turnout.

Prince Edward Island’s non-binding plebiscite on changing the province’s first-past-the-post voting system yielded a low turnout – 36 per cent.

By contrast, 85.9 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in the province’s 2015 general election.

While more than 52 per cent of the plebiscite votes were in favour of a mixed-member proportional representation system, P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan said there was not a strong enough showing of support at the polls to commit to a voting system change.

Rejecting a referendum on the presumption that Canadian’s won’t get out and vote, “doesn’t give enough credit to Canadians,” said Miller.

“With the way this year is going, people are reading a lot, people are willing to learn, we’ve got more access to media than we’ve had ever in history and I think Canadians can make an informed decision.”

Maintaining the status quo is a “betrayal and an insult” to the experts and citizens who participated in consultations on electoral reform, said Jason LaChappelle, who helped organize Tuesday’s demonstration.

LaChappelle is not in favour of a referendum.

“It’s a fairly divisive thing,” he said.

Canadians elected the Liberals based, in part, on the promise of electoral reform, he said. Couple that with the cross-Canada consultations and there should be a sufficient indication of what citizens want.

Bagnell, who apologized in the press to Yukoners hoping for electoral reform, was out of town during Tuesday’s demonstration.

However Susan Moorhead Mooney, his constituency office manager, was outside, handing out donuts on his behalf.

“He’s sorry he’s not here,” she said.

Comments (22)

Up 0 Down 0

Arlette King on Apr 4, 2017 at 8:07 pm

If you are upset with the way Canada is being ​run, ​please sign ​The Parliament of Canada e-petition ​and ​forward on​ to anyone​,​ that may be interested​ ​. https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-980

Up 1 Down 0

Willard on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

@June Jackson
Dear June what are you using as a reference point to decide the intelligence level of the Prime Minister please. You must have outsourced.

Up 0 Down 0

graftngrit on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Politician's promises are like pie crust.

Up 5 Down 2

Max Mack on Feb 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Electoral reform in Canada seems to mean a representative balance of political parties with some allocation for fringe parties.
This system would work against Trudeau, as it would minimize his majority party status. So, out goes electoral reform.

Anyway . . . I recently have begun to appreciate the beauty of the US system of choosing the governing executive. The electoral college system ensures that the big cities or big states do not dominate the vote. Perhaps we should consider the same in Canada. I, for one, am tired of the country being dictated by Ontario or Quebec.

Up 13 Down 5

this is news? on Feb 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I'm not sure why politicians breaking promises is news and why people would protest. They ALL do it.

Up 9 Down 6

DRUM on Feb 19, 2017 at 5:47 pm

This just shows us that we cannot believe what politicians promise before getting elected. They will promise us the heavens and the stars. So we, the masses are so stupid to fall for it every time. When are we going to wake up and actually keep them accountable for what they promise. Or are we so used to lies in politics we just lie down and accept it. It is supposed to be a democratic country, or at least what is what I was told!!!!!!

Up 1 Down 15

Gordon on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:30 am

What your last name? Tell Yukoners who you are.

Up 16 Down 6

Jonathan Colby on Feb 16, 2017 at 10:04 pm

We could use a little of the old communism party. They fought like hell for the rights of workers and industry. They'd keep some of the Bay Street influence down even if they had 1 seat.

Not these days, though. I saw the party platform in Red Deer. The leader was a smart fellow, but the follow up speakers were just the worst kind of people. Wonh wonh

Up 26 Down 16

June Jackson on Feb 16, 2017 at 6:53 pm

I voted Harper out.. not necessarily Junior in.. I had read quite a bit about him, and nothing ever said we would be getting an intelligent leader..and we didn't.. but, at that time, I thought more experienced politicians would advise and keep him in check, at the very least shut his mouth..but that did not happen, the instant he got elected he dispensed with nearly all of his advisers and his mouth lead to 536,000 pages on 'stupid'.

Had that election come just 3 weeks later, I would be saying Good Morning Mr. Harper. It is not a surprise that Trudeau is not even paying the lip service that we have all come to expect from politicians. His arrogance is second only to his narcissism.

Up 14 Down 8

Jonathan Colby on Feb 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Done and done, days ago. My cousin had a run in with US border cops years ago, and on the most specious of premises, she was held with no food or water for hours, with her hands ziptied behind her back. She said when the RCMP officers came in, they immediately cut the tie and got them to a waiting room where there were refreshments. And I usually have a rougher time with Canadian guards, but there you are. Anecdotal, but telling.

Pity about the reform, though. Pretty pathetic excuse for calling it quits, but I knew when the majority was called it probably wouldn't happen. I would have at least liked to seen PR run for one election. Theory is all well and good, but you can't say quite how it will work until it's done in earnest.

Up 12 Down 14

Gordon of Riverdale on Feb 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

When are Wilf Carter and Ryan Leef going to tell us what THEY think about this ?

Up 24 Down 7

Elmer Vasko on Feb 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm

In their glory years the Communist Party of Canada got 3% of the National vote.
That translates to 10 or so guaranteed seats in the House of Commons.
Not what Canada needs these days methinks.

Up 34 Down 8

Dean Larue on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:02 pm

"Erik Miller, another protester, said he wants fringe voices in Parliament."
We've got enough clowns in the Canadian Senate - don't need to be adding any to the HOC

Up 34 Down 15

Alex Gandler on Feb 15, 2017 at 10:31 pm

It's going to be a HOOT when the Marxist-Leninists and Rhinoceros Party hold the balance of power in the never ending minority government that these clueless people seem to want.

Up 16 Down 17

Arnold on Feb 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Who among us has never made a mistake before?

Up 35 Down 20

jc on Feb 15, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Well, most of them I'm sure voted for Bagnell and Trudeau. Serves them right. Next time, do some genuine research on the candidates before you vote.

Up 20 Down 41

Duane Gastant' Aucoin on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:28 pm

As a strategic voter I'm very disillusioned over the Liberals failed promise of electoral reform...among other failed commitments. I believed that 2015 would be as Trudeau declared, "the last election using First Past the Post" & I looked forward to finally being able to vote with my heart in the next federal election. Apparently this is now not going to happen. Do I now regret voting strategically...surprisingly no. Because even though the Liberals are turning out to be Conservatives Light...they are still way better than another Harper Government. Have I now given up on strategic voting...unfortunately no. If the next election is using First Past the Post then the goal of us Strategic Voters will be to make sure the Liberals do not get another majority. A Liberal minority government will force them to work with the other parties. So next election I'll be putting 3 signs up in my yard...Liberal, NDP & Green!

Up 31 Down 20

BnR on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Electoral reform is an issue to what, 50 people? I voted for the Libs the last election, and electoral reform was not on my radar at all.
Now C-23 is a different beast. It gives US border agents on our soil some pretty frightening powers. Write our MP, check it out.

Up 43 Down 17

Nile on Feb 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Hahaha. All you suckers who voted for the Libs, mostly NDP supporters, who actually expected them to keep their word. I'll give it to the Yukon Libs. They really didn't promise anything other than good feelings when they ran the last election so there really are no promises to hold them to. Smart. And again Larry is nowhere to be found. Must not have been any free food at the event.

Up 36 Down 15

Don't be fooled. on Feb 15, 2017 at 3:41 pm

PR will lead to minority governments and pandering to fringe parties to pass bills and we'll be left to be represented by a southerner with no vision for us. FPTP must go but PR is not the answer.

Up 47 Down 41

ProScience Greenie on Feb 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Trudeau makes a valid point about the dangers of the far right/left, deep green and other fringe elements having potential and serious undue influence. It is too big of an issue to rush. So ya, it is good news that the Libs bailed on this promise.

Up 58 Down 37

Looks Good On 'Em on Feb 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm

I hate to say I told you so to all you Liberal voters, but you got so carried up in your little ABC tantrum that you bought what 'Lil Tater was selling hook, line, and sinker. Frankly it looks good on everyone who thought you were voting strategically, it turns out you were to smart for your own good.

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