Justin Trudeau has lost some friends in Nelson.
A group of protestors met Saturday on Baker Street to voice their displeasure with the Prime Minister’s decision to scrap electoral reform.
Nelson resident Ann Remnant, a representative for Fair Vote Canada, said she thought the crowd turnout showed the issue matters to local voters. “I’m really thrilled,” she said. “It’s just so exciting, and like [one of the speakers] said, this is what democracy looks like.”
Similar protests were held across Canada after Trudeau’s Liberals backtracked Feb. 1 on an election promise that they would replace the first-past-the-post system within the first 18 months of being in office.
Remnant said the decision betrayed the voters who put the Liberal Party in government, albeit with just 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, in 2015. She’d hoped Trudeau’s election would mean a form of proportional representation.
“I’m sick and tired of having to do strategic voting,” she said. “I think it’s so negative and it helps to break down what we call our democracy. Voting strategically is one of the inevitabilities of first-past-the-post because we can only elect one person, but it makes people really sick to do it and it doesn’t seem to fix it.
“We’ve been doing this for a long, long time and it’s not getting better. We’re not getting what we want. We need something different.”
A committee of representatives from the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, Green Party and Conservative Party recommended in November that a referendum be held asking voters to choose between the first-past-the-post or proportional representation. Exactly what form of proportional representation that would be wasn’t made clear.
Some Liberal MPs didn’t agree with that recommendation, and then Minister of Democratic Reform Maryam Monsef was criticized for slamming the committee’s work. Trudeau later replaced Monsef with Karina Gould.
“The Liberals were the ones who took themselves out of it and said, ‘No, no, no, too radical, too fast,'” said Remnant. “Well, we’ve been doing this for a century. It’s not too fast. We’ve had [a lot] of studies now and every time it comes back proportional representation.
“Clearly people have had enough [stalling].”