There are so many factors in play in this election!
Do I vote for the candidate I want to see elected, knowing my vote under our present Winner Take All (WTA) system will probably be wasted? Do I vote for candidate A or B because I cannot abide the thought of being governed by candidate C’s party and leader? Even though I really don’t like B, I don’t want to vote for my favourite D and see C ‘win’ with a false majority.
In this election, strategic voting has really come to the forefront, with at least four candidates in most electoral districts, and some have seven or eight. Our WTA system is derived from a time when there were two candidates and life was simple. Black or White. The problem is, it no longer works. Life happens in many tones and colours, not just black or white. Now there are organisations like LeadNow’s VoteTogether and StrategicVoting actively promoting strategic voting to dismiss C in order to elect a caucus of progressive A, B and D MPs who will work together for proportional representation, which is what Canada really needs.
I worked as a professional civil servant for all of my paid-for-work career. I made sure that only the ballot box knew how I voted and I didn’t belong to any political party. That changed after retirement from paid government work, and I no longer had to maintain neutrality to ensure job stability. I could choose to support whichever candidate or party I wanted to, even openly if I wished. By this time I had become disenchanted with the way government worked, with its favourites depending on party donations and support systems.
This was the time of Adscam, and followed on from the introduction of NAFTA. There were substantial differences between the (then) two main parties, a third party was a very different underdog and didn’t appeal at all. Examination of their platforms and policies showed there were rickety planks in all the platforms. Only one other small party advocated proportional representation (PR) as policy and a plank of its platform. I had learned about PR in high school 50 years before. It offered the solution to the electoral dilemma. Here was a positive policy which would bring more effective voting and fair results in elections. Every vote would count and help to elect someone.
Later, when I became more aware of the erosion of democracy that was occurring because of the legislated necessity for a candidate to obtain the approval of a party leader, another thing became even clearer. If the leader has to approve a candidate, to whom is the candidate – now MP – responsible? The voters who elected the MP, or the party leader who now exercises discipline with whipped votes and secretly directing a caucus how to proceed? It was becoming clearer that most MPs were messengers for party leaders, not representatives of the people to Parliament. Only one party stood out in advocating an MP’s independence, representing the people.
These all became deciding factors in choosing which candidate to vote for. I want an MP who represents my philosophy and my thinking and takes my voice to Parliament. I want an MP who represents me to government, not one who delivers the government’s message to me. So I vote with those thoughts in mind. My candidate seldom gets elected, and I don’t vote strategically. Someone told me the old adage ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything’.
This year ‘progressive’ voters are being encouraged to gather together, so together parties A, B and D can defeat C and together claim power. If candidates A and B are flawed, and so is D in some other lesser way, do I really have to hold my nose and vote for someone I don’t really support? Is it more important to stand on principle or to create a gang to defeat a common adversary?
I have to live with myself; I would rather stand on my principles and vote my conscience. One day, perhaps more people will think this way, and we’ll return to principled democratic government, where every vote counts through PR and every MP represents the voters who elected that MP.
Shakeseare’s Polonius, speaking to Laertes in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark said it first:
“This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man”.