Canadian Election: Seeking Solutions to Avoid a Harper Majority

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Across Canada, people are lobbying for "Anything But Conservative", hoping that we will come to our collective senses and ensure that the Conservatives do not run this country any longer.

However, every day, we are pushing them closer to a majority because we all have different views on who the strongest party should be.  LIiberals?  NDP?  Greens?  The Marijuana Party?

Our muddled structures devoted to democracy are preventing us from actually having democracy.  It’d be OK if we had proportional representation (a platform of the Greens and occasionally for the NDP) and then we could vote as we pleased, knowing that our party of preference would still have a voice in the Canadian House of Parliament.  But we don’t.

As it stands, we are about to hand a majority to the Conservatives because the progressive vote is too interested in pursuing individual seats for individual parties and not interested in collectively abolishing the federal Conservatives.

With that in mind, I’d like to go on record and suggest that we start considering some fairly radical strategies.

The main one that comes to my mind:  get relatively ‘weak’ candidates in split ridings to withdraw from the election.

It’s grossly undemocratic, but then, so are the Conservatives.

The strategy would have to be something similar to vote-swapping, but it’d be more like candidate swapping. Here’s a theoretical example (I didn’t bother to make numbers add to 100%):

Riding Con Lib NDP Green
A 25 23 15 12
B 25 12 10 18
C 25 15 18 12

Each riding has an obvious winner in the progressive camp, but because we split the vote, the results will look like this:

Riding A:  Winner = Conservative
Riding B:  Winner = Conservative
Riding C:  Winner = Conservative

Now, in Riding A, the NDP and Green candidates withdraw with the Liberal and NDP withdrawing from Riding B.  Similarly, in riding C, the Liberal and Green candidates withdraw.  Here’s what the results might (in theory) look like:

Riding Con Lib NDP Green
A 25 50 0 0
B 25 0 0 40
C 25 0 45 0

Riding A: Winner = Liberal
Riding B: Winner = Green
Riding C: Winner = NDP

Losers:  Conservatives in all ridings.

So many questions:

1.  Is this legal?

2.  How do we orchestrate this for immediate ‘consumption’ of the public?

3.  How do we expand the concept by marketing / PR etc?

I know it’s undemocratic, but in each riding, the progressive candidate that should have won actually wins , so we all get what we’re after:  The Conservatives are pushed out.

4 comments on “Canadian Election: Seeking Solutions to Avoid a Harper Majority

  1. There are a couple of problems with your strategy. First, it is dangerous to lump together every alternative to the Tories, for it profoundly dumbs down political discourse. This, remember, was Paul Martin’s strategy for stealing votes from the NDP and the Greens, and it worked quite well for him. Second, if the Liberals have already dismissed the idea of a coalition with the NDP, what makes you think something like what you’re proposing could ever realistically happen?

  2. You’re aware of, right? They’re proposing something similar. And have a slick new website!

  3. Whooee! While I want to stop Harper as much as the next progressive, I think there are a couple problems with these types of tactics. The Greens and Libs are doing something like this with the so-called Red-Green deal in 2 ridings. The Liberals in May’s Central Nova Riding are not moving en masse to the Greens, though. Your numbers would work if every bit of the support for the parties that bowed out went to the agglomerated vote. It won’t. Denied their party of choice, some voters will simply stay home. Polls include fence-sitters. Some of the weak support may go to the Cons.

    With the way the NDP has been campaigning so vigorously against the Liberals, how many NDP supporters would vote Lib should their party decide to withdraw its candidate?

    As a Green Party supporter and worker, I would have a hard time strategically voting Liberal. The Liberals haven’t earned my vote. They’ve been particularly ineffective in opposition and allowed themselves to be bullied into acquiescing to every threat made by Harper. As a result, they staved off an election for a few months but managed to enter it looking like the hand-sitters and abstainers they became.

    If we wanted a two-party system, we’d have one. Canadians want a choice. NDP supporters want to vote for the party that best represents their views. Ditto for the other parties’ supporters. Democracy isn’t about narrowing down our choices to allow us to vote for the lesser of two evils. We want to vote FOR something. This sort of scheme has us voting AGAINST something. I don’t have any hard evidence handy, but I suspect voters are more motivated to actually get out and vote when they are doing something positive as opposed to something negative.

    The system is broken. Unfortunately, of the 60% of Canadians who actually vote in federal elections, few realize how broken it is. I’ve been thumping the PR bible for years. I’ve watched as eyes glaze over when I start to explain how the FPTP system is undemocratic. People think, “one man, one vote” equals democracy. Period.

    The large parties have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They are not only the chief recipients of disproportional representation, they are also they very ones who have the legislative clout to change it. Why would they? There’s no groundswell of public support for change.

    There’s the old saying that in a democracy, you get the government you deserve. Here in Canada in 2006, 64% voted against the Cons. Since then, the Cons have ruled us as though they had 100% support. We did not get the government we voted for. We do not deserve to be lorded over by a party with only 36% popular support. Ergo, we do not live in a democracy.

    665,000 Canadians voted for the Green Party in 2006 and elected zero MPs. Those 665,000 have a better understanding of the patent unfairness of the system than the voters who elected MPs with 36% popular vote. This time, it is entirely possible that well over one million will vote Green and still not elect an MP.

    Sadly, it may take a strong dose of un-democracy to convince enough Canadians that we have a broken system in need of reform. So be it. When we engage in schemes and vote trading and candidate trading and all sorts of strategies to play the game by the unfair rules, we only perpetuate acceptance.

  4. Out of our little ‘quorum’, PR is the obvious solution in the long run.

    However, I’m scared shitless of what’s going to happen in the short run.


    So, this feels like a classic ‘bitter pill to swallow’ moment, where we have to make choices that repulse us, hoping that the ends justify the means. However, as JimBobby clearly pointed out, the NDP will gain more percentage and the Libs will lose.

    What this tells me is that maybe the Greens and NDP should be talking together. I’ve heard Elizabeth May speak and she’s already said that she’s willing to talk to Jack Layton in order to make such an arrangement. I know it won’t mean much, but it might mean enough to sway more voters away from the Liberals, because voting for the Liberals seems to be like voting for ‘the devil you know’.

    My next thought (and please don’t crucify me for this): If Jack doesn’t go to her table, it reinforces the notion for me that Jack may not be the person of substance that I thought he was. He already showed some signs of being ‘undemocratic’ when he said that the NDP wouldn’t debate if the Greens were part of the televised debates. I was extremely disappointed when this occurred. Having to back-track cost the NDP a lot of votes.

    Anyways, I’m interested in what you (the readers of this blog) have to say because I honestly don’t know who to vote for any more. I’m in a riding that is dominated by a Liberal, has a weak NDP candidate, a Conservative with lots of local experience and name recognition and a reasonable Green rep.

    When all is said and done, I just wish our system wasn’t so screwed up!!!

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