Why Strategic Voting is essential in Canadian Election

Why Strategic Voting is essential for Canada

Why Strategic Voting is essential in Canadian Election
Justin Trudeau (Photo: John McCallum/Flickr/Som Jandu) and Tom Mulcair (Photo: BCNDP/Flickr)
By Doug Carrick

The Conservatives may be a disaster at governing a nation, but they are experts at manipulating  electoral wins.  In the last two elections they improved their position by 6% in the weeks just before the elections – providing victories in both cases.  It may happen again.

Off to see the Wizard

The Conservatives are noted for their propaganda and negative advertising.  The corporate media will explain the wisdom of “staying the course”.  And now the Conservatives have recruited the highly successful spin-doctor from Australia, Lynton Crosby, also known as the Wizard of Oz or the Lizard of Oz.  In Australia, he is sometimes called the “attack dingo” and in Britain, a “political rottweiler”.  His favourite phrase is “below the radar”, meaning sneaky.

So we better brace ourselves for a struggle.  He was behind four successive conservative wins in Australia and also behind the majority win of David Cameron in the recent British election.  Lynton Crosby is a winner…and we might be the losers!

Three-way race tightening

The polls, at the time of writing, show Canadians to be in a vulnerable position:  the NDP are at 32%, Conservatives 30%, Liberals 30%, Greens 5% and Bloc Quebecois 3%.  If  the Conservatives make their usual 6% increase (with Lynton Crosby’s help), they will end up with 36% – knocking the NDP down to 29% and the Liberals down to 28%.  In other words – another Conservative victory.

Power in working together

This situation is a threat, but only if we lose sight of the real battle. The critical struggle is between the vast majority of progressive Canadians (70%) and the corporate controlled Conservatives (30%). It is the struggle of the combined forces of Liberals, NDP and Greens to regain a caring society. But we must work together for the common cause, through strategic voting.

There is terrific power through strategic voting. The Conservatives may gain 6% through a propaganda campaign, but that is nothing compared with what Canadians can do through strategic voting. In the last election the Conservatives had won 21 seats in BC, but are currently polling to win only 7 seats. In four of these ridings, the Conservatives are leading by only 2%, 4%, 6% and 7% – and could easily be defeated by a relative handful of voters swinging their votes to the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives. There is real power by working together. Divided we fall.

Change is within reach

Strategic voting can defeat almost any Conservative candidate in Canada.  In this election, we must abandon our old habits of voting for the party we think is best.  Instead, we should vote for what is best for Canada – removing the Conservatives.   Does it really matter whether the Liberals win a few more seats than the NDP or vice versa?  They are both essentially progressive parties, and so are the Greens.  They all promise to bring in electoral reform.  They all are concerned about climate change; they all are concerned about the unfair distribution of wealth;  and they all believe that peace-keeping is more important than war-making.  They all want the restoration of democracy.  These are exceedingly important issues – but not shared by the Harper Conservatives.

Great things can happen with the removal of the Conservatives.  And what a boost to our self esteem!  To think that we were the ones who faced up to the problem and made the critical change –  no longer wimps putting up with unacceptable values.  All of this will happen…as long as we do not split the progressive vote.

And for those who feel that voting is frustrating and insignificant, you can be assured that every vote done strategically will actually count.  Every vote goes directly to defeat the Conservatives.   Just vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservatives – and that will make the difference.

Doug Carrick writes regular articles for the Hornby Island “First Edition”,  the Denman Island “Flagstone” and occasionally for the “Island Tides” and other publications.

20 thoughts on “Why Strategic Voting is essential for Canada

  1. http://www.strategicdonation.com/
    this is a great website, even if you do not plan to donate, if you are in one of the swing ridings, it lets you know on a daily basis who is leading and so which way best to place your vote, (liberal or ndp) in order to defeat the conservative incumbent or candidate.

  2. #‎contingencyplan2‬/ ‪#‎plandurgence2‬ seeks to unite the disparate communities who are determined to strategically vote out the Conservative government. It offers what it feels is a more reliable and less risky alternative by basing the voting strategy on mutual trust, not on unverified poll data analysis.

    Check out the Community Page: http://www.facebook.com/contingencyplan2

    Please consider joining

  3. Just a note on how to vote strategically. Look at the candidates who are most likely to finish first and second in your riding. If your first choice isn’t one of them, vote for the one you like the most (or dislike the least). * **

    * Your vote will mean one more vote the candidate you like least will need to win.
    ** Elections are decided by those who cast ballots for the top two candidates. If you vote for someone who has no chance of finishing that high, you are letting other people determine your representation on your behalf.

  4. LONDON WEST: We have over 400 online pledges with Leadnow to vote together for the candidate from ANY party who has the best chance to defeat Conservative incumbent Ed Holder. If 500 eligible voters in London West pledge with Leadnow, a crowd funded local poll will be triggered which will help inform us which candidate has the best chance. Go to Vote Together: London West to pledge and SHARE! http://www.votetogether.ca

  5. It is absolutely essential, for those of us who realize how utterly destructive the Harper CONs have been, to Vote *Strategically in our Ridings, for whichever candidate has the best chance of beating the CON candidate there. For those who can’t see beyond their own beloved Party, I suggest you consider that you won’t help your Party one iota by letting your Vote help the COns win!! And for every loyal NDPer who Votes Strategically for a Liberal candidate, be assured in another Riding nearby, there will be a loyal Liberal voting Strategically for the NDP.
    Please, put love of Canada ahead of love of Party this election!
    If you don’t know which is the Strategic Vote in your Riding, check some (never just one) of these:







  6. Doug, thanks for the comments on Hamilton-Ancaster-Dundas.

    You were correct in suspecting that I have an axe to grind on this. I didn’t like what happened in Vancouver South four years ago.

  7. Correction: If just 1/4 of the NDP swung their votes to the Liberals I would appreciate it if any editor could change this for greater clarity.

  8. I agree with you entirely, Bob. The most recent polls related to the Hamilton-Ancaster-Dundas have the Conservatives at 33.1%, the Liberals at 36.3%, the NDP at 25.8%, and the Greens at 4.3%. The Liberal lead is not all that great, so they need any help they can get from the other parties. If just 1/4 of the Liberals (6%) and 1/4 of the Greens (1%) swung their votes over to the Liberals, that would add another 7% to the 36% already supporting the Liberals, giving them a total of 43% … now well ahead of the 33% support of the Conservatives.

    Strategic voting is a powerful tool to remove the Conservative party from power. In fact, I am beginning to think that strategic voting is the only way to keep the Conservatives from power. I may be wrong, but I believe you think I am only recommending that Liberals should help the NDP when the NDP is the most likely party to beat the Conservatives. But I also recommend that the NDP swing votes to the Liberals as in the case of Hamilton- Ancaster- Dundas. Instead of splitting votes to the benefit of the Conservatives, the Liberals and NDP should be assisting each other to achieve the common benefit.

  9. All right, Doug, you didn’t want to talk much about Vancouver Quadra. How about Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, where the NDP candidate didn’t know anything about Auschwitz. Wouldn’t this be an obvious place to vote strategically Liberal?

  10. So what’s out there to help us vote strategically? How do we know who’s leading and who’s in second?

  11. SV is a sure way to unseat many Cons (and we only need to unseat enough to preclude even a minority); it requires cooperation and a bit of trust; there is no clear roadmap or up-to-date stats except today’s polls and last election’s results. It’s also wise to warn of the coming onslaught of Con effort to save their worthless butts.

    The Cons are in a bit of a tactical quandary: a perceived three-way split, on the one hand, confuses which might be the SV choice for unseating Cons. Indeed, much stealthy, Con-coordinated thematics have repeated a notion that “they’re [the big three parties] all the same” in order to obscure which might be more popular, and therefore the SV choice—and, naturally, to obscure the fact that they’re not “all the same” at all, the Cons alone are really deep in the “bad” category, distinct from ALL the others (I also suspect the notion implies there’s no real point in voting if they’re all the same—a more subliminal, perhaps, form of vote-suppression that hangs it hat on the fact that low turnout helps the Cons win). On the other hand, the same three-way split probably encourages SV, where a relatively small number of votes that tip the scales one way or the other is very important and effectual, and where new voters who’ve never endorsed either, or any, of the SV choices can finally feel like their votes count for something.

    A very important point is made that the Cons will probably resort to the same play that’s helped them and another neo-right parties (the BC Liberals, for instance) edge out their rivals: the last-minute rush, blitz or “Hail-Mary” pass. The persistence of the apparent tie between the “big three” suggests the Cons are well positioned to do that; in fact, many voters are concerned that the Duffy-Con corruption trial doesn’t seem to have hurt the Cons’ numbers all that much. I tend to think Harper’s long-campaign tactic effectively got him out in front of Duffy-gate so it couldn’t easily pre-fix every Con response to news media (shutting reporters out of rallies also blunted Duffy-gate), but I also think most people were intentionally not paying attention, so’s not to spoil the last weeks of their summer holidays—meaning many of those three-way split polls are inaccurate. Anyway, this supposed tie is derived from nationwide polls, and, as SV facilitators should know, it’s the riding polls that matter; hopefully voters will be focusing more on their own riding polls now that summer’s over and the campaign is about to shift into any gear (for a change). National polling averages is an MSM ruse designed to befuddle potential strategic voting.

    Look at the dearth of election signs, the relative dullness of the top two parties’ campaigns: it’s like the calm before the storm, like it’s about to blow wide open. The Cons will surely come out of their rope-a-dope swinging, while frontrunner NDP is naturally keeping a good head of steam in readiness; Liberals have no choice but to risk striking a reef, and the Greens are compelled to go into hyperbolic orbit before getting swamped by the coming tsunami. The spring feels wound pretty tight, but it’s sure to change soon. That, in itself, could potentially diffuse SV coordination.

    You’re correct, Doug, about the similarities between the Liberals and the Dippers, but they don’t need any particular distinction between them for SV to be attractive; for many who resort to SV, it’s unimportant, they just want Harper out; then there are those who expect a Liberal/NDP coalition to be cobbled from the vote results—supporters of both parties may thus vote strategically, confident their preferred party, if not candidate, will sit in cabinet. This is the most important promoter of SV among supporters of the two big opposition parties.

    The Green leadership is being hypocritically uncooperative in helping to get rid of Harper. We in BC know only too well that parties antithetical to the Greens’ professed environmentalism have been elected at both levels by Green vote-splitting. I suspect Ms Mays hyperbole is viewed by many greenish voters as perfunctory partisanship: many Greens I know will avail SV so that the big opposition parties’ commitments to electoral reform won’t be lost by a Con win—not when electoral reform’s this close. It requires, absolutely, that the Cons are defeated. SV is therefore an essential addition to the anti-Con arsenal, even if the non-Con parties can’t admit it.

    There’s no better indication that SV is gaining adherents than the reaction of its intended target. SV continues to be slagged in Con-friendly mainstream media: Tooclosetocall.ca is one Con-shillery site devoted to voting your first preference no matter what, betraying it’s obviously partisan source. ‘At least you’ll know you did’ is the disappointing reward. The fact that voters are questioning some of these patently false notions—that SV’s “impossible,” “undemocratic,” “unconstitutional,” and “inadvisable” indicates the anti-SV propaganda may actually be backfiring. And that brings us to a most important point: SV is a voter-empowered movement completely out of the hyper-partisan arena the parties and their candidates cannot avoid being engaged in—and the suggestion that voters are somehow bad or stupid for considering SV is, naturally, quite insulting. It’s a dynamic that’s immune to partisan manipulation, which, I think, is what’s attracting more attention to SV than in the past when, of course, it was always an option. Again, an extraordinarily bad Con majority is likely the reason.

    The questions remains: is it enough? Is there enough time to sell it? I always knew Harper was in deep trouble when he started whipping out double edged weapons that could just as easily skewer him as his opponents; nobody would do that without some desperation involved.

    I think SV will have substantial effect, depending largely on what happens to the polls in the final week or so. Yes, the shit will hit the fan—Harper will make sure of it—but sudden and drastic last-minute changes in the polls will probably be more influential. SV people need to watch for backsliding, as in, a strategic voter changing his or her mind on the basis of dubious end-days polling. We in BC recall only too well how “inaccurate” polling suggesting the NDP was a shoe-in might have bred enough complacency to keep lazy voters from turning out. SV facilitators must counter as best they can late polls which may have been manipulated to this end. It will always be difficult to discern exactly which way voters are going, and those who want Harper gone are safer not to jeopardize the goal by a death-bed return, as ‘t’were, to their first choice candidate without a reliable reason to do so. Of course in some races, the SV choice might actually change in the final days of the campaign.

    It hardly needs mention that not voting at all is the best Harper could hope for.

    The heart of this extraordinary campaign is disappointment with Harper’s first—and hopefully last—majority; an eleventh-hour change in the polls won’t change what the Cons have done or what they are, but it might mess with some voters contemplating SV. I’m pretty sure, though, for many, getting rid of Harper will guarantee widespread SV. Again, SV adds to what committed partisans are going to do; it relies on soft supporters of either big opposition party, on Greens using SV, just this once, to ensure Harper doesn’t snatch the opportunity to get pro-rep implemented, on first-time voters who might find SV makes their votes count like never before, and on that huge demographic that attend all elections, undecided voters. There may even be, I wouldn’t be surprised, more than a few disaffected Cons who want to get Harper out of their once-great party; SV might work for them too.

    Here’s hoping you continue to promote SV, Doug, but let’s be prepared for more frequent and more frantic attacks on this potent, voter-controlled electoral strategy.

    Thanks for your tireless effort.


    PS: could you please send something into this month’s Denman Island Flagstone? Deadline’s the 20th of September, the last issue before the election. There’s been some lively Green propaganda there that needs some balance. Appreciate it,

  12. The best place to find the info you need for strategic voting is votetogether.ca Like anything else, it is not perfect. It is just the best available. There may be 50 to 70 ridings where we need strategic voting, out of 338 ridings total. Strategic voting either won’t help or is not needed in the other ridings.

  13. I understand why people want to strategically vote, but remember make sure to survey the local situation. In some progressive ridings one can vote their heart without fear. For instance in Victoria and most of Vancouver Island, the conservatives and liberals are so far behind that you can vote for your actual preference with out fear (Disclosure: I am a Green Party candidate). Vote together is a good source for looking at your riding. I will note thatwe cannot create the world we want if we vote merely out of fear. I strongly disagree with Harper’s policies, but I also think voting should be a meaningful decision. It is tragic that the current electoral system puts us in such a situation, and whoever gets in must bring in a fairer system. Remember, it was people who voted for the small band of radicals in the CCF that gave us medicare. Likewise, it is the Green Party that will move Canada in to the renewable energy future. I have great respect for Mulcair’s accomplishments and integrity, but the NDP is still too attached to old polluting economy as evidenced by the non-commital position on tar sands expansion. Elect green MPs to fight for a low-carbon future in Canada. In Greater Victoria, you really have a choice!

  14. Bob, The purpose of strategic voting is to defeat as many Conservative candidates as possible. Joyce Murray, a Liberal in Vancouver Quadra, is leading in current polls with 62.6% against only 20.3% for the Conservative candidate. She is already defeating the Conservative without any assistance from strategic voting. Her big lead may be partly because many NDP voters, recognizing her as a good candidate, have already strategically thrown their votes her way.

    Furthermore, I don’t think you will find any official in the NDP, the Liberals, or the Greens advising their supporters to vote other than for their own party. The effectiveness of strategic voting is that individuals on their own will free themselves from party loyalties and vote for what is good for Canada.

  15. OK, Doug, let’s get specific. Is there anybody in the NDP encouraging NDP’ers to vote for Joyce Murray?

    Sorry, I don’t know what to suggest to voters in Vancouver Centre.

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