A group of Yellowknifers demonstrated outside Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod’s office Tuesday to say that they want the prime minister to honour his commitment to electoral reform.
Yellowknife joined over 50 communities across Canada for ‘Make Every Vote Count’, a national day of action.
It was organized for community members to deliver the message to local Liberal MPs that they want to see the country’s first-past-the-post voting system changed.
“We’re one of the only countries left in the world that still uses this system,” said Andrew Robinson.
Robinson is a representative from Alternatives North, which organized Yellowknife’s demonstration.
“It’s a ridiculous way to run a country,” he said. “It ends up that less than half the people vote for the person who actually gets all of the power, and there’s better ways to do it.”
In the 2015 federal election, the Liberals received 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, yet won 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.
Robinson says that representation isn’t proportional to how Canadians voted.
“We want proportional representation,” he said. “Under a different system it would be more balanced out.
“The Liberals might have 40 per cent and they’d maybe have to make a coalition (with other parties) … that way we’d all get to have our opinions heard.
“It’s a much more Canadian way of doing things rather than just letting 40 per cent of the people decide how we run the whole show.”
‘Politicians should keep their promises’
Justin Trudeau has been criticized recently for not moving forward with electoral reform.
In June, he committed to changing Canada’s voting system, saying: “We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted on the first-past-the-post voting system.”
On Tuesday, Robinson left a framed poster of that commitment in McLeod’s office.
“Politicians should keep their promises, especially when they’re the prime minister,” Robinson said. “Otherwise what’s the point of them making promises in the first place?”
Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly agrees. He was part of the demonstration, and voiced his desire to see Trudeau honour his promise around democratic renewal.
“Proportional representation I think would result in a very different kind of government than what we have gotten over the last decade or so,” said O’Reilly.
“We’ve seen the results of what happens when one party gets into power and is able to radically and fundamentally change this country, and not for the better.”
O’Reilly encourages residents to express their views to move Canada towards proportional representation of some sort.
MP McLeod is in Ottawa this week. Moose FM has reached out to him for comment, but was unable to get a response.