An estimated 300 people gathered in front of the Coles Building in Charlottetown Tuesday night to voice discontent over how the results of the recent plebiscite on electoral reform were handled.
There were chants of “Honour the vote” throughout the hour-long protest. People even brought pots and pans to bang on; they were loud and they were angry.
“This is bullying, and I don’t take well to bullying and I really will stand up to bullying,” said protestor Greg Bradley
“King Wade wants to keep things the way they are and people want change and we’re not allowed to have a voice it seems.”
The noise from the crowd got even louder as the MLAs began to return to the legislature for the evening sitting. Some stopped to hear what speakers were saying and engage in debate and questions with rally goers. There were many speakers including representation from all four parties on P.E.I.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan did come out and face the crowd. He said the plebiscite was taken to heart and that the winning choice, mixed member proportional representation, will be included in a referendum during the next provincial election.
“MMP will be on a ballot when Prince Edward Islanders have a chance to make a clear choice and respond to a clear question.”
He added that Islanders should stick together on the current path and that democratic renewal will come.
That didn’t sit well with many in the crowd, as they booed and shouted at him to once again honour the vote. Rally organizer and P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation campaign manager, Mark Greenan, said he was hearing from a lot of supporters that they wanted something to take things up a notch, to bring more attention to the cause.
“Islanders, I think, really really value democracy and they’re really engaged in public life,” said Greenan.
“I think that the government’s reaction to the plebiscite have really offended those parts of Islander’s sensibilities, and I think that the response to the rally this evening is a reflection of that.”
Gaining More Support
Dale Gaudet said he wasn’t completely engaged in the plebiscite itself, but when he heard what happened with the vote, he had to come out to the rally.
“I didn’t focus on the issue but I focused on the fact a vote happened and it didn’t get honoured,” Said Gaudet.
“It got ignored or it got trampled down for whatever reason and it just doesn’t seem to make sense to us, the people, that have voices.” he said
Gaudet said there has been a lot of talk about the issue, but feels showing up in person sends a bigger message.
“While we’ve have had a good round of armchair protesting this time around, you know, with people sharing posts on social media [and] whatever, it doesn’t do the justice. It doesn’t have the impact of having bodies fill a space, chant, and show a level of discontent,” he said.
Many at the rally said they will continue to fight for the issue and may hold more rallies in the future.