Abandoning a major campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government dropped plans on Wednesday to overhaul the country’s electoral system. The move, which prompted one opposition member of parliament to call Trudeau “a liar,” adds to pressure the Liberal Party prime minister is already facing for controversies surrounding cash-for-access fundraisers as well as an ethics probe into a vacation at a private island over the New Year’s holiday. Trudeau had promised during the 2015 election campaign that Canada would have a new voting system in place by the 2019 election, a reform expected to benefit smaller parties, such as the left-leaning Green Party, which holds only one seat in parliament.
Momentum for reform waned last December after the minister in charge dismissed an official report that recommended having a referendum before changes were made, something the Liberals had said was not necessary.
The government’s decision to abandon the plan came in a letter from Trudeau to recently appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould that said changing the electoral system would not be in her mandate. The letter also ruled out a referendum.
Trudeau said later there was no consensus among Canadians over whether the system should be changed or what should be used instead. “There is no clear path forward,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons. “It would be irresponsible for us to do something that harms Canada’s stability.”