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-the-post.”
“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 this 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.
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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.