More than 100 people gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery to voice their anger at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for breaking his promise on electoral reform.
The backlash, part of a series of protests across the country, comes after the PM reneged on a repeated pledge that 2015 would be the last election under the current “First past the post” voting system.
Many in the crowd said they’re fed up with a system where they feel their votes don’t count.
“I think it’s time where we have a system where we can vote for the party we want, instead of voting for the party we don’t want. I think people strategic vote in Canada against the party they don’t want instead of voting for the party they actually want to vote for,” said Scott Anderson.
Others said they felt the move was a betrayal.
“I’m very concerned about a broken promise, and how that can make especially young people feel cynical about politics,” said another demonstrator.
The backpedalling was enough to even draw some Liberal voters, like Crystal Laycock who says she’s never been to a protest before.
“I’m here today because of such a blatant breaking of a promise with such a terrible excuse,” she said, though added she wasn’t sure if it would be a deal breaker come next election.
“I’ve always thought electoral reform was a good idea, but it’s something altogether different when you’re promised somebody’s going to look into it, or they were going to do something about it, and then decide not to.”
In December, an all-party committee on reform recommended a proportional voting system (in which the percentage of power a party wins is linked to the percentage of votes it wins) and a referendum on whether Canadians should make the switch.
The following month, Ottawa followed up with a widely panned online survey on electoral reform which many critics complained was vague and tilted towards the Liberals preferred outcome, a ranked ballot system.
Earlier this month Trudeau officially pulled the plug on his pledge, claiming a lack of consensus on the issue, but has since claimed a proportional voting system would favour radical fringe parties.
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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.
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.
“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.
Toronto’s protest was one of more than 20 planned for Saturday across Canada, from Antigonish, N.S., to Victoria.
With files from Canadian Press