Toronto part of National Day of Action

Hundreds at Nathan Phillips Square protest electoral reform decision

Protesters march to Dundas Square
Demonstrators march down Yonge Street on Saturday to protest the federal Liberals' recent electoral reform decision. Jordan Barrera/Toronto Observer

Protest signs calling Prime Minster Justin Trudeau a liar and comparing him to a long-nosed Pinocchio were paraded in downtown Toronto.

Protesters gathered at Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday to protest the Liberal government’s decision to abandon their promise to change the first-past-the-post voting system.

Event organizer Alex Lavasidis said that this was one of over 25 demonstrations taking place across Canada. About 500 people attended the rally in Toronto, according to organizers.

“Clearly people do care and clearly this is not an issue that’s motivated only by special interest groups, which is sort of how it gets written off,” Lavasidis said

Protester David Macmillan said he was excited when the Liberals first said they were going to change Canada’s voting system. He said he wants to see these protests motivate the government to keep their original promise.

Marilyn and David Macmillan came to Nathan Philips Square on Saturday to protest the electoral reform decision.  (Jordan Barrera/Toronto Observer)

“It’s got to engage more people,” Macmillan said of Canada’s voting system. “Not enough people vote now and I think young people just say, ‘My vote doesn’t mean anything, so I won’t bother voting.’”

Speakers praised proportional representation as an alternative voting system. With this system, the percentage of seats a party has would be a direct reflection of the percent of votes the party received during an election.

Activist Dave Meslin told the rally that proportional representation gives us “diversity, equality, stability, civility and simplicity.”

Dennis Pilon, an associate professor of political science at York University, told the crowd to “keep up the work, keep up the pressure,” in regards to keeping governments accountable.

Once all speakers addressed the crowd, protesters marched to Dundas Square. Traffic stopped as the crowd travelled north on Yonge Street, chanting slogans like “fair elections, no exceptions”.

The crowd chanted at Dundas Square before a rendition of Canada’s national anthem signified the end of the protest.

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Posted: Feb 14 2017 1:20 pm
Filed under: News