Saturday, April 30, 2011

Democracy in Action: We Need More of the Same This Weekend

Yesterday at a rally in Kitchener, Michael Ignatieff was joined by two, perhaps surprise guests.
Green Party candidate Jamie Kropf and former NDP candidate Rod McNeil. Kropf said there was no chance an NDP or Green party candidate would win in the region, so they were supporting the Liberals.
In Edmonton, there appears to be a friendly agreement between the NDP and Liberals, where the NDP candidate, Shawna Knowles is lying low to help bolster the Liberals, while the Liberal candidate in the adjoining riding, is returning the favour, to assure that Linda Duncan keeps her seat.

It has Rob Anders in a right flap. This bastion of democracy, whose own riding association has been trying to oust, but Stephen Harper can't quit him.

In Quebec, 2 former members of the Bloc (not candidates) are throwing their support behind the NDP.

In Saanich Gulf Islands, a prominent former Conservative and Reform party activist, Fraser Smith, and a former NDP MLA, Don Scott, have opted to support Elizabeth May.

This is how I thought this election would go. With our very democracy on the line, I thought that all progressives would campaign like hell but in the end, those with no chance to win, would stand with those who do, if it means taking a Conservative seat.

In 2008, when some balked at strategic voting, it was because of the $1.95 per vote subsidy. But we already know that Stephen Harper intends to scrap that.

Some of my NDP friends are angry with me because I refuse to believe that there will be an NDP wave that will save us all. I'm too much of a realist to take my chances on waves.

If I lived in the West I might join that movement, but in Ontario, the hotly contested ridings are still mostly between the Conservatives and Liberals, so I'm going to dance with the one that brung me.

I spoke with one of the organizers of a strategic voting group, and asked if they had changed any of their seat projections, and if we should now promote an alternative. But they have been out door knocking and hand shaking and assure me that they see no NDP wave in Ontario.

I got the same feel in Kingston yesterday, when I was out talking to people. They want Harper out and are sticking with Liberal candidate Ted Hsu, as the best option to beat out the Conservative candidate.

I'm sure there will be many surprises, but I'm more concerned with the shock, if we find that once again vote-splitting has returned Stephen Harper to power, possibly with a majority.

When I was at the Harper protest in Kingston yesterday, and we were finally allowed on the parking lot, two men came out of the building with 'Here for Canada' signs. I told them that they weren't here for Canada at all, and had a lot of nerve carrying those signs.

One of them asked: "so I guess you're voting NDP". And I said "no, I was voting strategically in the riding, so would be sticking with the Liberals". They mocked, saying "Oh, but haven't you heard. The NDP are on a surge." I said, "the day a Conservative tells me to vote NDP is the day I know I'm being played."They just laughed and walked off.

There was some justice though, because the wind caught one of the signs and it blew across the lot. Immediately a group of young people who had attended the protest, grabbed the sign and ceremoniously stomped on it, smashing it to smithereens.

Shannon Rupp wrote yesterday in the Tyee: Memo to Iggy, Jack and Liz: Get Strategic!
Attention: Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May Re: Interpreting the Polls. As a card-carrying member of the Lesser of Evils Party (LEP) I’ve been asked to send you a note regarding those increasingly wacky polls leading up to our biannual election.

You seem to have trouble interpreting them, although they’re all saying the same thing: More than 60 per cent of Canadians want a coalition that does not include Mr. Harper. So, Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Layton, and Ms. May, we are asking you to set aside your agendas, personal and professional, and consider the good of the nation. Please ask your candidates and supporters to cast a vote, riding by riding, for whichever party has the best chance of denying The Harper Government even the hint of a mandate.
We have a real chance here to oust him, not just keep him to a minority. But only with co-operation.

And on another note, while the realist in me is supporting strategic voting, the Canadian in me, does not just want a change in government, but a government that is fit to run our country.

And whether that's an NDP minority, a Liberal minority, a coalition led by Jack Layton or Michael Ignatieff, it has to be a strong alternative. Otherwise, the right-wing noise machine will deafen us all.

When I first learned that the NDP were leading in Quebec I saw it as a good thing, until I read about many of the candidates. Some are school teachers and union leaders, which I applauded as good choices. But many others were a joke.

They haven't been out campaigning at all, and several are now just sporting Jack Layton signs.

It can be heartwarming when a candidate spends little or no money on a campaign, and wins. But when a candidate does none of the work, and is instead just hoping to ride some one's coattails into a high paying job, it's something else all together.

Strategic voting allows the second strongest candidate to win. And the reason they are the second strongest, is because they have done the work and are accepted in their communities.

So please to everyone out there. If you know you can't win throw your support behind someone who can. This is not the time to let egos get in the way. It will leave you with a good feeling knowing that you have restored our democracy, or at least given it your best shot.

6 comments:

  1. Emily,good for you in speaking up!
    I think a lot of Canadians are not aware that our Democracy is very fragile. Here is Peter Russell:
    YouTube - Peter Russell
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEsXSb_JJSU
    Almost 14,000 viewings in 48 hours.

    YouTube - Stephen Harper Conservatives Lie About Canadian Parliamentary Democracy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipqg_NViKM0&NR=1

    Professor Peter Russell, Principal, Senior College, University of Toronto, tells CBC Television's Keith Boag that "the Prime Minister misled the country" in a misinformation campaign about how minority government works in Canadian parliamentary democracy.

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  2. Thanks Norma. I'll watch those.

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  3. I'm holding my breath, Emily. I didn't stay up to watch The Wedding, but I'll be watching the election returns from Ontario and Quebec, where the big numbers are. That's saying a lot, because I don't even watch my favourite hockey team when I'm alone (Go, Canucks!) because the tension upsets my stomach, so imagine how I'll be with my husband away on business and our entire way of life on the line.
    O well, at least the dog sees TV time as dog-bonding time, whatever is on, so she'll be happy, and I won't be completely alone.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  4. Repost from Greg Vezina - This is a fantasy - the LIBERAL base is 5 MILLION VOTES - the same as the CPC, a blip in quebec has been maginified three times to the LOCAL level. ON ELECTION day PEOPLE WILL ELECT THE BEST PERSON TO DEFEAT DARPER IN EVERY RIDING. Becasue of the Liberals starting with them next most seats - they must finish that way when you take away the CPC Seats. LIKE in 1993, the propoertion of the actual seats in the house after tyall but 2 seats out of 211 were gone, the seats left were split exactly according to the fracts of those left. simple MATH.

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  5. You're right Nadine. This whole "surge" business was created and magnified by the media. It's nonsense. I'm not in Quebec to get the feel on the ground, but have received some emails telling me that the Bloc are still the favourite in that province.

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  6. And Kay I know the feeling. I'm both looking forward to and dreading election day. It's been a long time coming.

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