Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion bad for Canada: Trudeau

Elec­toral re­form ad­vo­cates in P.E.I. hope prime min­is­ter will change his mind

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY TERESA WRIGHT AND RYAN ROSS

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says he has never be­lieved that pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion would work for Canada.

Dur­ing a visit to Prince Ed­ward Is­land Thurs­day, Trudeau once again de­fended his de­ci­sion to re­verse course on his elec­toral prom­ise that the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion would be “the last fed­eral elec­tion us­ing first-past-the­p­ost.”

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved that I don’t think pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion suits Canada,” Trudeau told The Guardian in the only in­ter­view he granted dur­ing his visit to P.E.I.

He said he be­lieves pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion leads to “frag­men­ta­tion” of po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“I think the cre­ation of re­gional or niche par­ties is not nec­es­sar­ily in keep­ing with the best way to gov­ern a coun­try that has fig­ured out a way to make diversity a source of strength and not a source of weak­ness.”

Ear­lier in the week, Trudeau crit­i­cized the Op­po­si­tion par­ties in Ot­tawa for be­ing too en­trenched in their own po­si­tions on elec­toral re­form and not sup­port­ing his own pref­er­ence for a ranked bal­lot. With such a “log­jam” he said he could not see a path for­ward for elec­toral change.

“I didn’t think that hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum on this is­sue would be in the in­ter­est of the coun­try ei­ther,” he said Tues­day.

“So I made the de­ci­sion that we were go­ing to put that prom­ise aside and we were go­ing to fo­cus on the things that re­ally mat­ter to Cana­di­ans.”

Prince Ed­ward Is­lan­ders did cast bal­lots in a non-bind­ing plebiscite on elec­toral re­form last year. In Novem­ber 2016, Mixed Mem­ber Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion emerged the win­ning choice out of five elec­toral op­tions, which Is­lan­ders voted on us­ing a ranked bal­lot.

It won with 52.42 per cent of the vote.

First-Past-the-Post was the sec­ond most pop­u­lar op­tion with 42.84 per cent of the vote.

But Pre­mier Wade MacLauch­lan has said a sec­ond, bind­ing ref­er­en­dum is needed be­cause he be­lieves the voter turnout of just 36.5 per cent was not high enough to im­ple­ment elec­toral change.

Jor­dan Bober, a mem­ber of the P.E.I. Coali­tion for Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion, was on the Char­lot­te­town wa­ter­front Thurs­day to de­liver a let­ter with 300 sig­na­tures in sup­port of elec­toral re­form to Trudeau.

Bober said one of the rea­sons Trudeau was in P.E.I. was to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary.

“We be­lieve that it would be an amaz­ing le­gacy pro­ject for Canada to move for­ward with pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion as the prime min­is­ter had promised when he was cam­paign­ing and af­ter he be­came prime min­is­ter.”

When Trudeau worked the crowd gath­ered to see him, Bober gave him the let­ter. But it doesn’t look likely the prime min­is­ter will change his mind.

“I’ve been open to it, but I have never been able to be con­vinced by any­one want­ing pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion that it would end up with a bet­ter path for Canada,” Trudeau said.

Jor­dan Bober of the P.E.I. Coali­tion for Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion, was on the Char­lot­te­town wa­ter­front Thurs­day to de­liver a let­ter with 300 sig­na­tures in sup­port of elec­toral re­form to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

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