On the heels of the English language debates there has been much chatter about who won or who made the greatest impact. I might be cynical, and I am definitely biased (at least when it comes to being against the Bloc), but what I saw was a debacle. Stephen Harper stood tall and remained calm, while the other three “leaders” ran around bickering and throwing barbs this way and that. They needled each other, they mostly needled Harper, and they got on my nerves. All of them. Especially the God damned separatist ass hat Gilles Duceppe, though I will give him credit for a) having the most knowledge about Canadian politics; and b) providing the greatest humour to low blow ratio (Harper had no low blows but was about as funny as a root canal. Leighton was 3rd and Iggy was dead last, taking pot shots at anyone who’d make eye contact). I can’t help but think that had Elizabeth May been able to participate we would have seen something much more civilized and much more productive.
What we witnessed was akin to three grade school kids launching a barrage of “nah-nah-na-boo-boo’s” and “you’re a stinker-face” at the school bully. They all want to play road hockey and it just so happens that the bully is the only kid with an orange hockey ball, and guess what? He’s taking his ball and he’s going home. He’s been doing it for 5 years and he’ll do it now. He has more than enough support from the folks living on his cul-de-sac, and those sitting on the white picket fence are just tired of the bickering. So they’re going to let him have the ball for the next 4 years and not allow anyone to do a damn thing about it.
It’s exactly the type of thing that happens when you have an outdated electoral system like the one Canada uses. Someone on Twitter wrote something about Canada not having a single election but 308 simultaneous ones. It’s true, and it’s depressing as hell because as much as I want to make an informed decision and vote with my brain, I know it won’t matter. I’m not in a riding where there’s even a hope anyone but the incumbent will win.
Every election, millions (yes millions) of votes are cast for candidates that will not win. In fact in 2008 an overwhelming number of people voted AGAINST the party that won. I’m sure it seems fair in some weird cartoon laws of physics sort of way, but if you think about it what is really happening is that your candidate will only win if you and a boat load of people who live near you are all drinking the same Kool Aid. Seems less fair when you consider that a party can receive 10% of the vote nationally and not have a single candidate elected. Seems fair until you consider that a party whose goal it is to separate themselves from the country can hold the balance of power in a minority government.
This isn’t about or encouraging people to vote one way or the other – do not mistake this for a sales pitch or any kind of sneaky trickery to sway your opinion. This is only a reminder to think before you vote. Vote for the right candidate such that you have a better chance of seeing the overall outcome you desire. Conservative? Good for you. Vote for them. Conservative in a predominately Liberal riding? You still have options available, both in the short term as well as the long term. Short term, consider the following:
It’s not illegal (it’s not – look it up) or immoral (debate that on your own time) and I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard more about it until recently. Especially since the concept of strategic voting is in the news today, and has been for a while.
I’ll be using vote pair and hopefully voting for someone in my riding that I would not normally consider, so long as somebody somewhere else in a closely contested riding agrees to vote for for the party of my choice. Hopefully this will tip the balance in favour of my desired outcome in that riding and not affect the riding I’m in in a direction that is unfavourable. We’ll see how it goes.
For a longer term solution, on May 3 (the day after the election) start writing to your elected official (regardless of party status) and ask the federal government to consider a new voting system.
More than 80 countries around the world use a system much different than the one Canada uses today. It’s called proportional representation, and it’s the only way every vote is going to count. No strategic trickery involved.
At the end of the day, I don’t care which name you put the ‘X’ beside. In fact, most of the general public, your friends, and your family don’t either. Really. They don’t. So just think about it, and then do it.