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Liberal MP: Trudeau left minister in the dark on plan to break electoral reform promise

In an audio recording obtained by PressProgress, the parliamentary secretary to the democratic institutions minister says "none of us knew" Trudeau was going to flip-flop on electoral reform.

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Sounds like Karina Gould’s boss might be a real micromanager.

That’s one possible explanation for why the rookie Minister of Democratic Institutions keeps giving journalists fuzzy answers when they ask when she first learned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau planned to break his promise on electoral reform.

Consider this question from Vassy Kapelos on Global’s West Block last Sunday:

“When and how did you find out that your government would be abandoning its electoral reform promise?”

Or this question from Evan Solomon on CTV’s Question Period Sunday: 

“When did the government know that you weren’t going to go forward?” 

And also this question on CBC’s Power and Politics earlier last week, when Rosemary Barton asked Gould:

“At what point was the prime minister sure that he was no longer going to keep that promise? Why did he keep repeating it when now you’ve abandoned it?”

Gould wasn’t able to shed much light on the questions, only pointing out in general terms that her “mandate letter was released publicly on Wednesday” and adding that she is “proud of the announcement.”

Nor was Gould able to shed light on why she held a private meeting with opposition MPs to inform them the Liberal government was going ahead with electoral reform less than 24 hours before announcing they would not be moving forward on electoral reform.

But thankfully, Gould’s Parliamentary Secretary might be able to shed some light on these questions and more.

In an audio recording obtained by PressProgress, Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions –explains that Trudeau only gave Gould less than 24 hours’ notice before marching the rookie Minister in front of TV cameras to defend the Prime Minister’s flip-flop.

The audio clip, recorded at Fillmore’s Halifax constituency office last Friday during a public meeting with constituents upset about his government’s flip-flop on electoral reform, captures the Liberal MP telling his constituents that “none of us knew” what Trudeau’s “direction” on electoral reform would be.

Fillmore adds that he and Gould were only notified “the day before or the morning of” the announcement:

“None of us knew what the direction was going to be in that mandate – well, the minister and I knew the day before or the morning of – but none of us knew what was going to be in that letter until Wednesday.”

It all makes you wonder how the government even arrived at a decision?

Following last Wednesday’s announcement, Gould said the decision was based on feedback the government received through town halls (that were overwhelmingly in support of electoral reform) and the government’s MyDemocracy.ca online quiz (widely-ridiculed as an unreliable source of data):

“Based on all of that information, reviewing all of that input and all of the opinions and the time that Canadians took to spend to participate and share their opinions, we’ve made this decision that it’s not in the interests of Canadians to change the electoral system.”

Aside from the fact the “information” empirically does not support the government’s conclusions, neither Gould nor her predecessor, former Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, seem to have had any real role in “reviewing” the information.

So who is really calling the shots?

Photo: Facebook.

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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