Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says the time of year and a prevailing cynicism among Canadians when it comes to politics are to blame for his slide down in the polls, that now has his party below even the Bloc Quebecois in his home province of Quebec.
“You know what? We’re at a point where Canadians … are cynical about politics and not paying an awful lot of attention to what’s going on in the federal scene right now. People are getting ready for the end of school, for beginning summer vacations and going off with the family,” Trudeau said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.
“It’s only around Labour Day that people are going to start saying, ‘OK, we’ve got a decision to make in a couple of months about what our future’s going to look like.'”
Trudeau’s popularity, as well as that of the Liberals, has been tumbling in recent polls.
A CROP poll conducted for Quebec newspaper La Presse released Saturday showed the Bloc Quebecois gaining 12 percentage points in popularity rankings — enough for the party to jump past the Liberals into second place with 25 per cent. The Bloc are behind the NDP’s 36 per cent, while the Liberals fell to third place with 22 per cent.
“As I said many times when the polls were saying something different, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the polls or put much stake in them,” Trudeau said. “What I see is a desire for change that’s manifesting itself right across the country, an openness to not voting the way they used to.”
Part of that change Trudeau envisions includes a decisive shift in the way Canadians elect their federal government.
Last week, the Liberal leader told a crowd of supporters in Ottawa that, if elected, this would be the last election in which the government is selected using the first-past-the-post voting system.
This is the system Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and other respected democracies use.
Basically, the candidate who gets the most votes – doesn’t have to be a majority — in a riding wins.
It is often criticised, however, for distorting voters’ choices, allowing a party to win a majority of seats with less than 40 per cent of the vote.
WATCH: The West Block Primer this week looks at electoral reform in Canada
Canada, in fact, is living that right now; once all the ballots were counted in the 2011 federal election, the Conservatives came away with 39.6 per cent of the popular vote. Still, the party won a majority government.
“We have to start valuing Canadians voices again. We have to start valuing Canadians votes again, ” he said.
Trudeau said that, through a multi-partisan committee of experts, his government would explore options such as proportional representation and preferential voting.
Although he won’t commit to holding a cross-country referendum on any major overhaul to the national voting system, Trudeau said it’s important that no single party make the decision.
“Any party that proposes a single solution is going to, probably justifiably, be looked at with a little bit of suspicion by Canadians who are saying, ‘Well, you’re pocking the option that will suit your party and its political nature.'”