New Democrats are accusing the prime minister of spreading his own “alternative facts” when it comes to the abandoned Liberal pledge to reform Canada’s voting system.
NDP House Leader Murray Rankin used the phrase, coined by an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, in question period Friday. Rankin was responding to comments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the night before in Iqaluit that appeared to place some blame on New Democrats for his about-face on electoral reform.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a town hall meeting in Yellowknife on Feb. 10, 2017. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Trudeau told a woman there that the NDP was “absolutely locked into proportional representation, no matter what, at any cost,” and unwilling to compromise. The prime minister warned such a system would elevate “fringe voices” in the House of Commons.
Rankin called Trudeau’s remarks a “desperate” pivot.
“Do the Liberals not understand that blaming everyone else for their broken promises is exactly what breeds cynicism in politics?” he asked.
Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould did not address her boss’ comments directly, but said it was her job to improve, enhance and secure Canada’s democracy.
It’s the job of members of Parliament, she suggested, to “combat cynicism” and encourage participation.
Rankin: Was PM asleep for 10 years?
Moments earlier, Rankin also accused the prime minister of suggesting proportional representation would lead to a more right-wing government.
“My question is simple: was the prime minister asleep during the 10 years Stephen Harper was in power?” he asked.
Trudeau had actually warned a party led by the likes of controversial Tory leadership contender Kellie Leitch could, under a PR system, hold the balance of power with about 20 seats.
While Tories have largely fallen silent on the electoral reform file — an issue destined to be overshadowed next week by Trudeau’s first visit with Trump — New Democrats have raised the issue in question periods all week.
NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen got heated with Trudeau in question period Monday while reminding the prime minister how, mere weeks before scrapping the pledge, he said that walking away would not reflect how he was raised.
"You’d think the prime minister would at least have the decency to blush when he's breaking his promise to Canadians so blatantly, and he could at least take that slightly smug look off his face,” Cullen said.
Cullen was not in question period Friday but shared his thoughts on Facebook.
“Trudeau's excuse for breaking his promise on electoral reform is absolute garbage,” Cullen wrote.
“Donald Trump got elected under first-past-the-post so Trudeau's fear-mongering about 'fringe' or extreme groups winning under PR is bunk.”
With files from The Canadian Press
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