|Vancouver Quadra NDP candidate Victor Elkins|
On Monday I will be casting my vote for Victor Elkins, the New Democratic Party candidate in my riding of Vancouver Quadra - and not voting "strategically" for another candidate whose party I don't support.
First and foremost, the only reason why the NDP and leader Jack Layton are poised to take over Official Opposition status from the Liberal Party of Michael Ignatieff is because NDP voters in hundreds of ridings over dozens of years voted NDP - even when they knew their candidate would likely or surely lose.
The only way a political party can build strength to form the opposition or government is by consistently giving voters a choice - a real choice - with a different philosophy, platform and ideals. And in the NDP's case, a social democratic choice.
Second, Victor Elkins is the best candidate in the race in Vancouver Quadra. Liberal MP Joyce Murray was British Columbia's worst environment minister under BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell - even the ministry name was changed to remove "environment"!
But also removed were wildlife protection officers and other staff in a gutting of the ministry's ability to do its job to protect our environment.
Murray could have stood up for the environment. She could have quit cabinet rather than do the wrong thing - but she stayed and kept her mouth shut. I could never vote for Murray with her track record - and she has done nothing of consequence as an MP either.
Third, strategic voting doesn't work. Alice Funke of PunditsGuide.ca has an excellent article on this titled "Why the Conservatives Love 'Strategic' Voting Sites" that explains it well.
As Alice correctly writes: "A vote 'against' someone or something is a vote in favour of nothing. It gives no mandate to elected officials, creates all the wrong incentives for the politicians who are elected that way, and guarantees that Parliament will descend even further into the partisan barking we see there now."
And in an earlier article in 2008, Alice also did the research, rather than simply pontificate like some media and political observers have, and discovered that: "more of the seats that changed hands in an election had previously been won by margins of more than 5%, than had been won with margins under 5%."
That means the entire strategy of strategic voting is flawed - and in this 2011 election I believe it will be shown again with the NDP's results when the party wins seats in Quebec and elsewhere that were nowhere near that 5% margin.
So my advice in Vancouver Quadra - and in your riding, whether you are an NDP, Liberal, Conservative, Green or other party supporter - is to vote your beliefs.
Your candidate may not win this election - but you won't have to hold your nose in the ballot box - and isn't that what democracy should be about?
UPDATE Monday May 2, 2011 - Election Day
As noted in a comment from PunditsGuide.ca, well-known political columnist Lawrence Martin is reporting another good reason to reject strategic voting.
Martin writes at iPolitics.ca : "The success of the NDP pays off in other ways for Mr. Harper. It could very well give him more time.
"Liberals tell me they are unlikely to want to enter into any formal arrangement with the NDP to bring down the Harper government and seek the approval of the Governor-General to replace it.
"This would mean the Liberals would be playing second fiddle to the New Democrats under Prime Minister Jack Layton. The optics of that, the Liberals say, would not be in their interests.
“'We’ll want to rebuild our own party,' said one 'and you don’t do that by being seen as a support team for the party has just replaced you as the official opposition.'”
Martin also adds this provocative option in his must-read article: "No one has mentioned another post-election possibility, it being the British example wherein the first place party forms an alliance with the third place party to stay in power.
"In this case it would mean a temporary alliance between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff with the Liberal leader and a few other Grits receiving cabinet posts."
So there you have it - could the Liberal Party that constantly propped up the Harper Conservatives in Parliament for years, under Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, ensure that Harper stays on as prime minister to attempt to salvage their party?