Thursday, 25 June 2015

Canadian 2015 Federal Election needs strategic voting if the Conservative agenda for Canada is to be halted.

A pipe dream without strategic voting in many Canadian ridings. 
Pick a Liberal or an NDP candidate who can win. 

The upcoming Canadian Federal Election will require strategic voting to defeat the Conservatives in many ridings across the country. Opposition party loyalties will ensure a Conservative government is re-elected with Stephen Harper at its head.

by Tom Thorne

If I use my own Bay of Quinte  federal riding as an example it demonstrates a problem that has a national scope. The professional polling companies all agree that my riding is likely to go Conservative. It is clearly in the blue column with a 71 percent chance in favour of the Conservative candidate Jodie Jenkins, a one term Belleville City Councillor will end up becoming our member of parliament. 

Mr. Jenkins has a previous attempt at federal parliament  when he ran in a neighbouring riding for the New Democratic Party (NDP). I am still trying to work that one out. It seems that opposites do attract after all. Mr. Jenkins newly minted Conservative image will very likely appeal to the core Conservative voters or they may see him as an opportunist. Conservatives normally get 48 percent on average over the previous five elections in the now defunct Hastings and Prince Edward riding.

Recent polls taken of my riding by reputable national firms at the moment reveal the following voting projections if the vote was in June 2015. The Conservatives will receive 38.8 percent which is a lot lower than the actual results in 2011 for Daryl Kramp (53.25 percent). The Liberal candidate, in this case two time Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis, can expect 27.7 percent and the NDP candidate, former Quinte West Councillor Terry Cassidy, will get 26.7 percent. The Greens will siphon off perhaps another 6.5 percent leaving 2.2 percent for fringe candidates. The Liberals and the NDP together could take the riding handedly. 

The national polls continue to demonstrate a trend towards a very tight race in many ridings across Canada. At the end of June the polls shows the NDP with a slight advantage. Conservatives 28.1 percent, Liberals 26.1 percent, New Democrats 29.6 percent, Greens 7.6 percent, In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois may get 5.4 percent, and other fringe candidates will share 3.0 percent.

Getting back to Bay of Quinte riding, Conservative Jodie Jerkins will go up the middle to split the vote and win if the Liberals and New Democrats don’t strategically vote for one candidate. Jodie Jenkins hasn’t got the same numbers (53 percent) that incumbent MP Daryl Kramp had for the Conservatives in 2011 in the now defunct Hastings and Prince Edward riding. Daryl Kramp was elected for the third time in 2011 but because of redistribution is not running in the new Bay of Quinte riding.

Jodie Jenkins is a new Conservative candidate draws the usual Conservative  core riding vote at 38.8 percent which is probably the core vote for that party and on the low side. If this percentage holds until October then the new member of parliament will be Conservative but over  54.4 percent will have cast a vote for the Liberals or NDP. Their attempts to vote against Stephen Harper and his record will be thwarted. Add in the Green projections for Bay of Quinte and 60.9 percent of the progressive vote when it is split ensures a Conservative win.  

More or less the same thing occurred when the the Conservative vote was split between The Alliance and Progressive Conservatives which enabled the election of Liberal Lyle Vanclief  for four elections starting in 1988-2000. One Conservative party coalesces the core vote in Bay of Quinte and many other ridings. 

Also Bay of Quinte has shown a growth in the NDP vote against the Liberals for the last four elections which is a significant change. In 2011 they got 23.71 percent of the vote. The Liberal vote dropped from a high in 37.6 percent in 2004 to a low in 2011 of 18.75 percent. 

In 2011 the popular vote for the Conservatives across Canada was 39.7 percent and that number gave them a majority. Locally Daryl Kramp had 53.25 percent in 2011 and a clear victory. The first past the post system seems to work in the favour of the Conservatives in many ridings electing members without a majority of  voters getting what they wanted. Democracy remains an unobtainable objective with a split centre and left.

If Liberals and NDP voters are really serious about defeating Conservatives in many  ridings, the bulk of the vote for both these parties must coalesce around a Liberal or NDP candidate.  

Pragmatically the voters of centre to left parties need to choose the best candidate from the Liberals and NDP and vote for that person. They would need a minimum of 40 percent of the Liberal/NDP combined vote to make it a squeaky finish and 50 percent to take the riding. That is doable this time in the new Bay of Quinte riding.

Sadly, party politics is usually focused on a strongly held set of principles or at worst a set of propaganda points that make up a party’s platform. However, if the goal is to Stop Harper then the question is how to do it.  Strategic voting is the only answer at the moment until electoral reform takes place eliminating first past the post politics.

If slavishly voting for the Liberals or NDP means that the Conservative slides through twice as many dissenting votes because adherents of the opposition parties cannot see their way to voting for who is more likely to win. That requires a very different campaign than the NDP and Liberals are waging at the moment.

The other aspect on all this is why the Liberals and NDP choose to run as separate parties. It is probably time to join these two parties together. My modest proposal is to call this new political entity The Liberal Democratic Party of Canada. This incarnation of the old Liberals and the NDP can place a Conservative majority with even 40 percent of the popular vote on the political back burner. Stephen Harper is certain that strategic voting will not happen to threaten his candidates and his hold on Canada. It is not too late for NDP and Liberal organizations in each riding to meet and ensure a Conservative defeat. 

© Copyright Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

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