Within minutes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to abandon his pledge to change the country’s electoral system, criticism flooded in from opposition MPs on Parliament Hill and from Canadians on social media.
The NDP’s Nathan Cullen described the move as “perhaps the most cynical display of self-serving politics.”
WATCH: Liberals break promise, abandon electoral reform. Vassy Kapelos reports.
Trudeau repeatedly promised – both as a campaigning Liberal leader and as prime minister in a speech from the throne – to get rid of the current first-past-the-post voting system in time for the 2019 federal election.
“Rather than keep his word to the millions of Canadians who voted for him and the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who engaged in good faith with Mr. Trudeau over this question … Mr. Trudeau chose today instead to spit in their face,” said Cullen, who sat on the special committee tasked with studying alternative electoral systems and consulting with Canadians.
In the months following the Liberal win in 2015, they massaged their position on electoral reform, taking the softer stance that they would change the way Canadians elect their federal government only if the public’s appetite for doing so was strong enough.
WATCH: Bailing on electoral reform a ‘spit’ in the face of voters: NDP
Today, the Liberals are saying there was no consensus among Canadians on how — or even whether — to reform the elections system. To change it now would be irresponsible, Trudeau told the House of Commons Wednesday.
“What Mr. Trudeau proved himself today was to be a liar, was to be of the most cynical variety of politician, to say whatever it takes to get elected,” Cullen told reporters.
Green Leader Elizabeth May, who also sat on the special committee, blasted the prime minister, saying Trudeau’s pledge to reform the electoral system was never contingent on anything.
“The promise was crystal clear,” she said Wednesday. “The Liberal promise was not to consult and see what they’d find.”
For the record, here is the Liberal promise from their election platform:
“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system … Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”
WATCH: Elizabeth May ‘betrayed’ by Liberals abandonment of electoral reform
Late Tuesday afternoon, NDP staff said Cullen and his caucus colleague Alexandre Boulerice were meeting with the Liberals’ new Democratic Reform Minister Karina Gould.
“Hoping for a recommitment to electoral reform,” NDP press secretary James Smith wrote on Twitter.
Elsewhere on social media, Canadians voiced their displeasure with Trudeau’s backpedaling, calling the move “a disgrace” and “disappointing,” and his promise a “lie.”
Others suggested the Liberals had lost their vote.