Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Last Post Before the Vote

This will be my last blog posting before the election occurs on May 2nd, in six days. That means there is a lot to cover in a short period of time. In this post I want to talk about predictions, strategic voting, and the Orange Tory endorsements.

A prediction six days out are not wise. That being said, this is my last opportunity. First, polls are shifting radically. If the growth of the NDP continues unabated, and the Liberals and Bloc continue to stagnate and collapse, the forty-first parliament of Canada may look incredibly different. Seriously. I won’t give a list of polls, but nationally it appears that the Conservatives are holding in the mid-to-high thirties, the NDP is in second in the low-to-mid twenties, and the Liberals are in a close third. The Bloc and Green are in the mid single digits.

The predictions are hard to read, and I deeply hope they are not over optimistic. Presently I predict the following:

CPC – 151

LPC – 64

NDP – 53

BQ – 38

Ind – 2

This is a somewhat hesitant prediction. There is a very strong possibility of vote splitting between Liberals and NDP resulting in a Conservative majority. The NDP could give a knockout blow to the Bloc and reach into the sixties, seventies or higher. Also, the second independent is not that likely to win, but I’m going out on a limb. I have a provincial breakdown as well, I may post it to show how I did after the election.

DemocraticSpace, a pretty solid predictor, says that the numbers look like CPC – 161 (majority), LPC – 57, NDP – 53, BQ – 36. This is my second assumed result. On the other hand I believe it is possible for the NDP to form the opposition. In the end, there are too many uncertainties based on what is happening in Quebec.

Voters are flocking to the NDP in surprising numbers. It isn’t just a small phenomenon, in my experience. Several members of my family have expressed a desire to vote NDP. Most of them live in the ridings in Brampton, which have never elected a New Democrat. Still, they want to vote NDP. I’ll be curious to see the growth of NDP vote across the country.

A friend of mine asked me to discuss progressive voting strategies. Two good examples are Vote Pair and the Catch 22 Campaign. These campaigns are designed to unite the progressive parties in Canada, the parties on the left (Liberal, NDP, and Green (sometimes Bloc)). They encourage left-wing voters to vote for the party most likely to win.

These strategies favour the Liberals, who are the most likely to win in most ridings. If these programs succeeded they would result in consistent Liberal majority governments. It does not help New Democrats or Greens very much. Canadians are free to do with their votes as they please, so long as it isn’t sold. Trading is fine. Vote pair is an idea that progressive voters trade votes with others. I really feel people should vote for who they want, but I understand that isn’t the reality. Other ABC (Anyone But Conservative) voting strategies are out there, if you don’t care the difference between the other three or four parties then it makes sense to me.

If you do care about the difference, I feel like you have a responsibility to cast your vote for the person or party you feel best to lead. If you have to plug your nose and vote Liberal even though you believe more in the NDP... well, that’s your choice.

Finally, my endorsement. My current riding is Welland, Ontario. I would like to endorse Malcolm Allen and the NDP. Of the five federal parties I would like to endorse the NDP. As I said a couple of weeks ago, my key issue is electoral and government reform. I feel a large NDP opposition (hopefully the official opposition) will be beneficial to the advancement of Canadian democracy.

I would also like to endorse a minority government. Hold the Conservatives to a minority. Majority governments ARE NOT accountable. We need a government that answers to the people and other interests.

Finally, go out there and vote! Good luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Last Straw

With our system of government often it is not so important who you vote for, but who you vote against. Pollsters know that voting against someone is often a major motivation for any person casting a ballot. Meaning they much rather someone else (perhaps anyone else) to win than another candidate. The most prominent example of this are the left-wing parties in Canada (Liberal, NDP and Bloc) arguing that by supporting only one of them you can stop the Conservatives from forming a majority government. The support for each party varies riding to riding so it is not possible to say which one party can prevent a Conservative government.

Likewise Conservatives campaign arguing they are the only alternative to the Liberals/NDP/Bloc. Again, not everywhere, but they do offer an alternative. The question then becomes if you are voting against someone, who are you voting for?

I’m a passionate believer that people should not have to strategically vote, or vote for their second choice candidate because their first choice will not likely win. I feel like everyone’s first choice should be the choice they make on election day. But we do not live in a perfect world. For a video on how our democracy works and creates problems like strategic voting, please click here.

I have now come to a decision on who I will not vote for. While I have had positive things to say about the Harper government I now believe it is time for Harper’s term in office to come to an end. I believe my fondness (no matter how limited) for the Harper government came out of my own conservative tendencies. However, the specific governing style of Stephen Harper has me greatly concerned.

There are now repeated instances of the Harper government abusing power and ignoring parliament. From Bev Oda, a minister, changing a government document, to the misspending and misinformation on budget matters, there are too many problems to continue to support the Harper government. For those who have not heard, during the G20/G8 conference a billion dollars was spent on security an the conference itself. Part of the money allocated to border security found its way to Huntsville, Ontario in a prominent Conservative’s riding. There the money was used for pet projects that had nothing to do with the G20/G8 or border security. Oh, and Huntsville is over a hundred kilometres from the border.

My sincere hope is that the Conservatives do not win a majority government. As I’ve expressed many times on this blog majority governments are highly unaccountable to the public. I am not thrilled with the idea of a Liberal minority government either, but Harper’s power unchecked is not something I wish to see in the future, or reward by increasing his seat count in the House of Commons. Governments must be held accountable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shifting Numbers before the Debate

It is twenty days until Canadians go to the polls. Actually you can early vote on April 22 and 24, but let’s move on from that. Tonight is the night of the leaders debate – English. Though I unhappily, not all the leaders. Despite considerable public support for the Greens to be in the debate Elizabeth May was denied the right to appear by an unaccountable, closed-door process.

I wanted to blog before the debate took place because I did not want to get hampered by the inside baseball of debate analysis. Not to mention that such analysis matters only to the junkies, pundits and media and very little to “real” Canadians. The debate is an opportunity for Canadians to meet their federal leaders. If they are successful it will draw voters, if it fails then they will bleed voters to the point of anaemia.

The projection and poll analysis websites I follow have been projecting some interesting numbers. It appears that the Harper Conservatives are on the verge of majority government territory. Right now DemocraticSpace is projecting them at about 150, with a high of 172 and a low of 126. 308 Blog is projecting them at 152. You need 155 to win a majority. The Conservatives must be going nuts trying to figure out how to squeeze those extra few seats out.

At the moment it looks like overall the Liberals will hold steady, as will the Bloc and the NDP will lose a few seats. That is not to say that the same exact seats will return the same MPs, a number look prepared to switch. It will be unclear which direction the map will swing until May 2nd. Canada is a highly regional country, and often while the Conservatives gain ground in places like British Columbia and the rest of the West it will lose ground in Atlantic Canada, and therefore seats.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this election to me is the growth of the NDP in Quebec. The NDP have not done well in Quebec historically, so this turnaround is quite impressive. The NDP currently hold Outremont, and it looks possible for them to gain Gatineau, a suburb of Ottawa, from the weakening Bloc. The New Democrats are also running a prominent Aboriginal leader in Quebec’s north, Roméo Saganash, which may turn up Aboriginal turnout and lead to a win there. But no one is holding out too much hope for that one.

Now to update you on my voting situation. Today I filled out the paperwork to become a registered voter in my riding. I’m mailing it today and hope to be on the rolls sometime next week. Exciting! I also decided the issue that will sway me in this election. I e-mailed the three main contenders in my riding for their position on electoral reform. I have only heard back from one so far.

One final thing, as part of the Liberal platform they are advocating for online voting. I don’t know what I think about this process. Voting right now is quite easy. Polls are open on different days for many hours and you can always mail in your vote. I don’t see what online voting would do besides open up the system for potential shenanigans.

With that I would like to encourage all my readers to watch the leaders debate tonight and participate in our democratic process! Try not to throw too much at the T.V.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Options in Voting

Readers, I want to help you vote. I feel that my primary mission is to make it clear how easy voting can be.

The first step to voting is to know where you’re voting. This is a problem quickly solved. Basically, the most obvious thing to know is that the place you live is a place you can vote. I decided that this election I would like to cast my vote in the riding I’ve lived in and gone to school for four years, the Ontario riding of Welland. Part of my motivation is that Welland is a three-way race between the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats. My other motivation is the Ontario election later this year, but that can be discussed later.

You’re free to claim residency in any riding you live in, either as claimed on legal documents – such as a driver’s licence, or where you call home. As a university student I am sort of stuck in a limbo where I have all of my official documents for my parents’ home, but I’ve been living at the same address for four years. Therefore, under Canadian election law I can vote either back home in Brampton, or here in Saint Catharines.

To confirm I could vote I called Elections Canada. There, a helpful (and bilingual) civil servant told me about my options being a student living in my riding, and that I had the right to vote here. I then contacted my local Elections Canada Office by phone and they are going to mail me the paperwork to be registered to vote here. Very exciting. Elections Canada can also tell you what riding you are in and other important information.

So, what if you don’t want to change your registration, but you can’t simply return home to vote. Good news! You have a number of options. First, early voting. On April 22, 23 and 25 you can go to select locations in your riding and vote. Since that is Easter weekend, many will be home anyway. Please make note in your calendar. Another option is a mail-in voting. For more information, consult this part of Elections Canada.

Now, there is no excuse for someone not to vote. Please let anyone you know know their excuses are invalid.

On to election news. One of the major issues that are bothering me this week is the discussion revolving around the debates. The Broadcast Consortium, who controls the debates, have ruled that the Green Party will not be included in the debate despite the fact that Elizabeth May was included in the 2008 debate. I had believed, like many, that once the Greens were included that would always be included. The Greens are not a fringe party, they received over 6% of the vote, which was nearly a million people. Just because our First-Past-the-Post system doesn’t allow the Greens in doesn’t mean the political system should shut them out.

Read more about the Green’s struggle to get into the debates here.

Also, for election projections please consult these two websites, which I will discuss next week.