February 2013
« May   Jul »

A Plea for Common Sense

I’m always confused by NDP supporters who refuse to vote Liberal in a riding where the LPC has the best chance of winning against a Conservative candidate (& Liberals who refuse to vote NDP).  Or GPC supporters who have similar sentiments about voting for the NDP or LPC.

I understand how a vote for another party than one has traditionally supported might feel unprincipled.  Perhaps they feel the that other party have some poor ideas, or have had a negative experience with that party being in control provincially or nationally in the past.  But it should be apparent by now to everyone in the Liberal, NDP, and Green camps that our electoral system is hugely flawed.  Every election, about half the votes cast are orphaned – they don’t count towards electing anyone.  Your vote for another non-Conservative candidate when another non-Conservative candidate could have won was as useful as staying home (indeed, many disillusioned people have stayed home, feeling there’s no point in voting at this point).

Yes, it may have been nice if your party’s candidate won in your riding.  But even if they did, it doesn’t matter at this point – because of how First Past the Post skews voter intent, and thanks to the larger combined support the right-wing enjoy since they merged the Reform and PC parties, they now control 100% of the power with less than 40% of the vote.

I urge NDP, Liberal, and Green supporters who feel negativity towards another party to put aside that sentiment. If you dislike what Harper and the Conservatives are doing to Canada – and there’s plenty to dislike – we have to work together.  These aren’t sports teams we can share in the highs and lows with – this is the future of our country, and future generations.  Nothing is gained by any of us if we don’t end up with more than 50% of the seats in the next election, and far more will be lost in the years following with the Conservatives continuing to enjoy complete control.

Joyce Murray understands this. Elizabeth May understands this. Nathan Cullen does too – and Thomas Mulcair has to feel pressure to cooperate from Cullen supporters and the more than 50% of LPC, NDP, and GPC members that want cooperation.  Trudeau doesn’t – and feels that he can win enough seats to bring the Harper government to a minority, despite polls showing a statistical tie with the NDP and many analysts saying this is a recipe for another Conservative majority.  Trudeau also supports the Alternative Vote, which may not benefit the Liberals as he believes, and certainly isn’t as fair as any Proportional Representation system. I also have heard from a friend with ties to Alberta that Trudeau is not well-liked there – Murray is from the west, and may enjoy more support.

I know Trudeau is exciting, charismatic, and brings a fresh dynamic.  He could attract many voters, but at what cost?  If he can attract new voters, certainly it might help, but if he attracts them at the expense of the NDP instead of the Conservatives (shown to be very loyal to their party), they’ll have no power.  There’s also 30 more ridings in the next election – many of them in suburban neighborhoods, more likely to lean Conservative.  It’s a large gamble to risk everything on.

Strategic cooperation is the sensible approach.  Some might see the idea of a LPC, NDP, or Green candidates not being available to vote for in their riding as “taking away choice”, but it is a practical solution to let the Liberals, Greens, and NDP have some say in government as opposed to none.  Whether you like the non-Conservative candidate in your riding or not, the fact that it would result in your party having a share of power is more important.

With shared power, we can finally fix our voting system so we never have this situation again – we can get proportional representation, and in future elections you can be assured that your vote for your party of choice has a strong chance of counting, instead of being among the ~50% that don’t currently.

It’s an emotional subject – I know.  But if there’s anything Liberals, NDP, and Green supporters can agree on, it’s the need to wrest control away from the Conservatives.  If we want cooperation and civility after an election, let’s cooperate before as well. Let common sense prevail.  Support Joyce Murray (register before March 3rd!) – and please spread the word!

Thank you.

2 comments to A Plea for Common Sense

  • stephenjohnson2000

    You don’t say what form of Proportional Representation you prefer. Different PR systems all have their particular disadvantages.

    Many supporters of FPTP consider simple voting and counting, and all MPs elected in single member constituencies, are genuine democratic advantages.

    You may be interested in Direct Party and Representative Voting (www.dprvoting.org) . This is a form of PR designed to replace FPTP. No change is required to constituency boundaries and voting and counting are very simple, so introducing the system would require very little change to the existing voting system. Worth a look?

    • Orphaned Voter

      I’m not advocating any particular form of PR, and really don’t think the Liberals, NDP, or Greens should either at this point. I think promoting any one form as the solution is a recipe for defeat, as even proponents of electoral reform might get hung up on the details rather than the goal. Sowing confusion and negativity towards the idea rather than promoting the desired result isn’t going to help.

      Really, almost any PR system would be better than the system we have now. And unless the NDP or Liberals win a majority – which I can’t see happening – neither is going to be able to implement a system they posited before an election. It will take negotiation between the parties, a commission to research a “Made in Canada” solution, and compromise to come up with a form of PR that can be enacted. The key thing is that the goal is defined, an agreement struck, so that when they share power after the election, voters will want them to follow through.

      I will say that I think a MMP system with Regional “top-up” lists (as recommended by the Law Commission of Canada) is a good one, with some sort of minimum threshold needed (eg. 3-5%). Single Transferable Vote (STV) is good too, but I think that might be viewed as even more complicated by most. (MMP has the benefit of at least sharing elements of our current system, ie. the single-member ridings with a simple plurality needed).

      That said, DPR sounds intriguing – thanks for the link, I’ll read more on it. :)

Leave a Reply