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Trudeau ‘s Broken Vows Come Back to Haunt Him


Justin Trudeau stands on the precipice of an inglorious political demise largely of his own making. From broken promises to mounting ethics scandals, the prime minister’s past deeds are coming back to haunt him. 

Trudeau is now facing a reckoning for years of controversial decisions that have bred disillusionment and a craving for change. His time in office has been defined by cynical calculations of political advantage rather than principled leadership. 

The most damaging was Trudeau’s betrayal of electoral reform – a foundational pledge that encapsulated the hopes of Canadians seeking democratic renewal. By abandoning this promise and putting partisan interests first, Trudeau shattered public trust. 

Now his government is crumbling under the weight of past missteps and controversies. The chickens have come home to roost on Trudeau’s tenure as the next election approaches. 

His legacy may be that of a prime minister undone by his own compromises, half-measures, and breaches of faith with voters.

Trudeau is now facing a reckoning for controversial decisions and scandals that have piled up over his time in office, with his past quite literally coming back to haunt him.

The decision by Trudeau to abandon his 2015 campaign pledge to reform Canada’s electoral system stands as a defining moment of his time in office. It was a promise that captured the imagination of voters and spoke to a deep desire for democratic renewal.

Yet in February 2017, Trudeau announced that electoral reform would not proceed due to a supposed lack of consensus. This broken promise has had profound political consequences for Trudeau and the Liberal Party.

Trudeau’s rationale for discarding electoral reform has rightly been met with skepticism. The all-party parliamentary committee on electoral reform did substantial work and recommended a proportional voting system be put to a referendum. 

This can hardly be described as a lack of consensus. Trudeau’s true motivations appeared to be a preference for a ranked ballot system that would benefit the Liberals, and an unwillingness to relinquish his majority power.

The abandonment of electoral reform meant that the 2019 and 2021 federal elections took place under the same first-past-the-post system as before. 

This system has long been criticized as unrepresentative of the popular vote and cementing the dominance of mainstream parties at the expense of smaller ones. Trudeau’s decision to maintain the status quo contradicted his supposed commitment to real change and democratic renewal.

The impacts of this broken promise have been far-reaching. Most tangibly, it has directly contributed to the decline in Liberal support over two subsequent elections. 

Recent polls paint a bleak picture for the governing Liberals. The Conservatives have surged into a dominant lead, while Liberal support has cratered to just 25%. Seat projections show the Conservatives would easily win a majority government if an election were held today. 

 Under a proportional system, the Liberals would not be facing such dire electoral oblivion despite their low polling numbers. This demonstrates how the broken promise of electoral reform may directly deliver Trudeau’s party from government to opposition.

Beyond the partisan impacts, failing to implement reforms has damaged Canadian democracy. Voter turnout continues to decline election after election, showing public disillusionment with the system. 

A proportional model would have given voters more meaningful choices and incentives to participate. Canada now lags behind other advanced democracies in voter turnout due to the status quo being maintained.

This broken promise will forever be remembered as one of the most cynical in Canadian political history. Trudeau deliberately misled progressive voters into thinking he would fix long-standing democratic deficiencies, only to trash those hopes once safely in power. The sense of betrayal has opened a gulf of cynicism between many left-leaning voters and the Liberal Party that will not easily be repaired.

Trudeau’s vague platitudes that electoral reform could not proceed without “consensus” fooled no one. This was never an honest commitment. He prioritized partisan advantage over following through on a reform that Canadians were clearly demanding.

The legacy of this betrayal now hangs over Trudeau and his party. He faces losing the next election due to not having the foresight to implement reforms when he had the chance. The Liberal movement risks being crippled for a generation, having been deserted by so many of its most natural supporters.

This was an entirely avoidable political disaster had Trudeau respected voters enough to deliver on his promise. Perhaps the greatest irony is that electoral reform would have also moderated the rise of extreme populism that the Liberals now fear. 

By abandoning reform and protecting a system that benefits established parties, Trudeau created the very conditions for a dominant Conservative victory that now threatens.

The window for implementing electoral reform may now be closed for the foreseeable future. Even if Liberals return to power, they will lack the political capital to revisit changes that require constitutional amendments. The chance has been squandered.

Canada’s democracy will continue to suffer from declining turnout, uncompetitive elections in safe seats, and discontent with the disproportionate election results first-past-the-post regularly delivers. This stagnation can be laid squarely at the feet of Trudeau and his inner circle.

The broken promise on electoral reform in our opinion is the Original Sin that has led the governing Liberals into their current predicament. It shattered the trust of idealistic voters seeking a new kind of politics. It prioritized ruthless power over democratic principles. And it created the very conditions for the Liberals’ looming historic defeat. Trudeau will one day rue the day he turned his back on reform. But by then, it will be far too late.

But apart from the broken promise on electoral reform, the Liberals are still not safe from public scrutiny as several factors have coalesced to send Liberal support plummeting. Chief among them are concerns about the cost of living, economic anxieties, tax burdens, immigration policy, and ethics scandals.

Canadians are increasingly alarmed about skyrocketing housing prices and the unaffordability of rent in major cities. On the Liberals’ watch, home ownership has moved out of reach for many young people. 

Long-promised measures to increase supply have failed to materialize. This generation may be permanently priced out of the housing market, fueling resentment toward the government.

Simmering economic uncertainties have also dampened support. Many workers are struggling with inflation eating away at wage gains. New taxes and fees imposed by the Liberals are further eroding disposable incomes. The economic recovery from the pandemic has been uneven, leaving many Canadians feeling financially insecure.

Mounting ethical lapses and scandals have also tarnished the Liberal brand. Controversies surrounding the Chinese interference, SNC-Lavalin, and the ArriveCan app have all raised questions about Trudeau’s judgment. 

Finally, concerns about rising immigration levels have provided an opening for Conservative criticism. The pace of change in some communities has left people anxious. Complaints over stresses on housing, jobs and social services have spiked. The Liberals appear deaf to these concerns.

Taken together, all these issues have badly damaged Liberal standing. After eight years in power, Trudeau fatigue has firmly set in. The Liberals have failed to ease cost of living pressures on average Canadians. Ethics troubles and economic policy missteps have disappointed progressive voters. The Liberals have run out of runway and could pay the price in the next election.

While the defining moment of Trudeau’s time in office may prove to be his broken promise on electoral reform, this failure has magnified all of the Liberal government’s other missteps and shortcomings. Together, these issues may culminate in a catastrophic defeat for Trudeau’s Liberals in the upcoming election.

Disillusioned voters who once eagerly supported democratic renewal through electoral reform have become deeply cynical about Trudeau. This bleeds into perceptions of his leadership in other policy areas as well.  

Had Trudeau followed through on his pledge, the Liberal party would still have disgruntled but loyal supporters even in difficult times. But the broken trust on democratic reform has instead amplified doubts about the government’s direction.

With the next election looming, Trudeau is now facing a perfect storm. Angry, frustrated voters see a government that has mishandled the economy, failed on affordability, stumbled into scandals and reneged on its defining democratic promise. 

The cumulative weight of these failures has sent Liberal support into freefall. They now seem destined for a historic defeat whenever Canadians next go to the polls.

Trudeau’s abandoned pledge on electoral reform was the original sin that set the stage for this downfall. It shattered faith in his leadership and exposed him to fiercer criticism on all fronts. This defining broken promise may prove to be his ultimate undoing.

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