The ABCs of Canadian politics

(Originally posted 10/12/2008, 1:51 a.m.)I

I had a Letter to the Editor published a few weeks ago in the Toronto Star, relating to the upcoming federal election. While it’s exciting to have one’s opinion printed in a major Canadian paper, it’s also frustrating to realise that the letter (see below) has been edited in such a way that the original point is lost. I wasn’t one of several letter-writers who simply wanted to keep the Harper government out with an ABC approach (“anything but Conservative”); I wanted to see all left-of-centre Canadian voters simply unite all their votes for one party—the strongest party that had the highest chance of winning against the Conservatives.

You see, even before I had heard of such things as “strategic voting”, the ABC strategy, or the Facebook group, “The Anti-Harper Vote Swap Canada“, I had thought of the idea of uniting the left in a rather radical way: eliminate, even just this once, all the left of centre parties except the Liberals, so that we could combine our votes and keep Harper and his Tories out. At a time when a combined 51% of Canadians (not counting those who would vote Bloc Québécois, for which the numbers apparently weren’t available) polled would vote for anyone other than the Harper Conservatives, it doesn’t make sense to me why we would want to split our votes and risk having a Conservative government—majority or minority—in power. So my idea was to just eliminate our votes for the NDP and the Green Party, and go for the party that’s already furthest ahead, and which would stand the greatest chance of forming a government. I’ve voted for both the Libs and the NDP in the past. But when the race is tight, and the numbers are split too many ways, it’s just too risky to “make a statement” and allow the Conservatives to sail on by. The Right had the sense to do six years ago, so why can’t the Left unite?

The Letter:

Psst! There’s a dirty little secret that the Conservatives don’t want you to know: The Left is divided and in disaccord. By distracting us with bird poop and negative ads, the Tories want us to forget that we’re simply splitting the vote among ourselves, while the common enemy forges ahead. The Angus Reid poll released on September 13th showed the Conservatives on top with 39%. The Liberal, NDP, and Green Parties, at 23%, 18% and 10% respectively, would handily defeat the Tories if we all threw our votes behind the strongest party, instead of dividing our numbers. It’s as simple as that.

It seems that the three parties left of centre are all standing for essentially the same things, so why are we so intent on tearing ourselves apart while Harper’s party surges on, unified? With all due respect, the NDP has never stood a chance of forming a government, and the Green Party—one word: Really? Vote Liberal, and before you know it, the Conservatives would be out of office, faster than you could say “puffin”. The Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance figured it out six years ago: They managed to Unite the Right, and lift themselves from near oblivion into one solid mass. So come on, all you NDPers and Green supporters, the secret is out: Unite the Left!

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