Canada, it’s coming down to the wire: our Federal Election is just under a week away. You may still be deciding who to cast your vote for come election day, and if you’re like a lot of other Canadians, you may be considering making that vote a strategic one.
A Refresher on what it means to vote strategically from our recent piece on the election… When you’re thinking about being strategic with your vote, you’ve got to keep the nature of Canada’s electoral system in mind, because it’s not just about voting “against” the party (or person) you don’t want to win. The first past the post system follows the rules of a simple majority, where a majority is achieved when the highest number of votes cast for any one party exceeds the second-highest number of votes. That means a party can form a majority government even if they didn’t win more than 50% of the vote, they just have to have more votes than the next party. And that’s where strategic voting comes in. Canadians often find themselves voting for a party (even though we technically vote for a candidate) not because they believe in the party but because they are afraid someone they disagree with will become Prime Minister.
Should you Vote Strategically?
As we mentioned in our last election piece, we can’t tell you how to vote. Choosing to vote strategically is a very personal decision that only you can make. If you are on the fence, however, you may find Votewell.ca helpful. This site analyses polling data to give voters an idea of how the candidates in their ridings are doing. If you’re like Shannon, you’ll use this data to vote strategically to help block the party you don’t want to support. If you’re like Nadia, you’ll use this tool to determine if you can vote with your values and conscious without putting your riding in danger of going to the party you don’t want to support. Either way, making an informed decision is better than not, no matter what that decision may be.
And if you’re like both Shannon and Nadia, and wish that strategic voting didn’t have to be a thing in this country anymore, you’re not alone. Two not for profit groups, Fair Voting BC and Springtid,e have garnered support from 800 Canadians to bring a court challenge to contest the constitutionality of the first past the post system. According to their website, The Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is “driven by the understanding that each Canadian has the right to effective representation and equal treatment before the law; and that these rights are violated by the federal voting system.” Considering how polarizing this election has been for this exact reason, it will be interesting to see where this challenge goes, and how it impacts future elections.
Blogger Shannon Hunter teamed up with Nadia for some more election coverage, with each writer taking their side of the strategic voting argument.
Why I’m Voting Strategically – Shannon’s POV:
With the election a little less than two weeks away and early voting beginning this weekend, I find myself thinking the same thing I’ve thought throughout this whole election, “Anyone but Scheer.” I whisper it like a mantra, I wish upon stars, I look to America and think, “Don’t let us become… that.” Because for me Andrew Scheer is a mini Trump; he’s anti-choice, he’s repeatedly voted against LGBTQ2S rights in our country, and he lies about so many stupid things.
I live in Ontario, where it’s hard to ignore the terrible impact the Conservatives have had on our province. Doug Ford has given us stickers that don’t stick as part of his decision to spend $30 million of OUR money fighting the Carbon Tax, along with some truly terrible ads. He’s cut education funding so badly that some grade 12 students will either have to go to night school or they won’t get the credits they need to get into the university programs of their choice. He’s cancelled the Ontario Basic Income pilot project, which the vast majority of Canadians support. And yet despite the deep cuts to services and programs that help make the lives of Ontarians better, Doug Ford and his government haven’t saved any money, in fact they are spending BILLIONS (with a B) more than the Wynne government planned to spend in 2018/2019.
For the past 6 months Doug Ford has been hiding from the public eye, because his failure isn’t a good look for Scheer. But that’s the thing that keeps me up at night – Andrew Scheer is worse than Ford, and he’s better at hiding it. So, I can’t take a chance that Scheer will win.
The NDP are currently polling at 14.5% and the Liberals are at 34.3% while the Conservatives are just barely behind the Liberals with 33.8%; If enough NDP voters vote Liberal then we can make sure that Scheer doesn’t ascend to power. But if too many progressive voters vote NDP than we let the conservatives win by splitting the vote on the left. The Conservatives face no such competition on the right, unless you count Bernier and the PPC, but as they are polling at 2.0%, they currently present no real challenge to Scheer’s Conservatives.
Now, you may not like Justin Trudeau, and that’s OK, but before you listen to all the rhetoric consider this, economic growth in Canada reached 3.7% this year, child poverty is at its lowest level in history, and last year our country resettled more refugees than any other country in the world. Trudeau’s progressive policies are working for our country.
So, I’m voting strategically because I don’t want our country to go backwards and since the NDP cannot possibly win a majority I am left with the Liberals. Canada is a beautiful and welcoming country and electing a man who doesn’t believe in climate change and compares gay Canadians to dog tails is not an option, not for me and not for our country.
Why I’m NOT Voting Strategically – Nadia’s POV:
Like Shannon, I live in Ontario, and have witnessed first hand the tyranny of a misguided “Progressive” Conservative government run amok. Like the evil villain in a children’s storybook, the Doug Ford government has systematically attacked each and every vulnerable community with budget cuts, have helped to embolden the most narrow minded and bigoted among us to wear their inner ugliness on the outside. Do I want to see the same thing play out on a national scale? Of course not. However, what strategic voting proponents in Ontario aren’t saying is that the reason why we have a Doug Ford government at all is due to this exact technique. As we have reminded you, thanks to our first past the post system, Canadians oftentimes vote against a party rather than for one. Depending on the temperature of the political climate at any given time, the end goal of the strategy will vacillate from the left to the right. Yup, the technique that Liberal voters say will save us from Scheer is exactly how the anti-Wynne camp voted Fordnation in to bring about our provincial demise. Strategic voting only seems like a good idea from one side of that strategy. From any other angle, it’s just choosing the lesser of two evils.
Which brings me to my next point.
Canada, I hate to break it to you, but when you break it down, those “two evils” are not all that different, one is just wrapped up in a more palatable package. Depending on where you exist on the spectrum of life, especially when it comes to cultural or financial privilege, a Liberal vs a Conservative government on a federal level could both be terrible ideas for you. Austerity measures, discriminatory or unfair policies that harm vulnerable communities and marginalized people, weird decisions and weirder scandals have come with both parties. Sure, the Trudeau government has definitely kept some of their promises, and on the surface they fair better on many of the issues Shannon mentioned. But they broke one very important promise, the one that would have kept us out of this mess in the first place. I won’t go into a detailed analysis on all the half promises kept by our current government and how the halfs disproportionately affect BIPOC and other marginalized communities, but here’s an article that sums things up pretty well.
Which brings me to my third point – personally, I can only vote with my values if I want to feel good about my vote. Democracy is still a fleeting concept in many parts of the world, and we are blessed to have it here. As such, voting for the lesser of two evils does not sit well with me. I want to vote for a party that reflects what I believe in, and can project that onto a national stage to make real change in our country. I want to see more progressive voices speaking loudly and effectively within our Parliament, holding whoever is in power to account on important issues like climate change, equality in all aspects of life and even electoral reform. To vote halfheartedly isn’t how I want to vote, even if that means my vote may count for nothing because of how our system works. If these words resonate with you, you may also find some comfort in the news that the NDP may be more open to cooperation with the Liberals than previously thought as we close in on Election Day. No matter what you decide in the end, just remember, there are more than 2 options to vote for in this country. That’s what I chose to focus on as I cast my vote in advanced polls this past weekend.