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Yukon MP apologizes to voters whose hearts were set on electoral reform

MP Larry Bagnell says he can understand that people who really wanted electoral reform may not vote Liberal in the next election.

Larry Bagnell says he can understand why people who really wanted reform may not vote for him

Bagnell had proposed BIll C-235 which proposed to amend the criminal code to consider FASD a mitigating factor in sentencing. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell has apologized to to voters who are frustrated that the federal Liberals have abandoned their commitment to electoral reform.

Bagnell made the apology Friday on CBC radio's Yukon morning show, A New Day.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised, during the 2015 election campaign, that it would be the last first-past-the-post election if he was elected.

But Trudeau recently announced he wouldn't be pursuing reform after failing to find consensus among Canadians.

On Thursday, during a public event in Iqaluit, he said he's concerned a proportional voting system could "augment extremist voices." He suggested Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch could benefit from voting reform.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explains to a woman in Iqaluit why proportional reputation would allow "fringe voices" to hold the balance of power in Parliament (CBC/pool)
"Do you think that Kellie Leitch should have her own party?" Trudeau said. 

"Because if you have a party that represents the fringe voices … or the periphery of our perspectives and they hold 10, 15, 20 seats in the House, they end up holding the balance of power."

Bagnell said he's received emails from disappointed Yukon voters who are passionate about electoral reform.

"I apologize to them, I can understand how upset they would be. This is the most important thing for them and they were expecting an imminent change," he said.

The broken promise could cost him some votes in the next election, Bagnell said. 

Yukon Senator Dan Lang says Liberals didn't handle the electoral reform process well. (CBC)
Meanwhile, Yukon's Conservative senator Dan Lang has said he supports the Liberal decision.

"I think the government made the right decision, because I think it's safe to say a majority of Canadians are satisfied with the way the process is set up at the present time," Lang said.

Lang added, though, that the Liberals did a poor job of bringing the issue to the public for debate.

with files from Nancy Thomson and A New Day

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