Sunday, May 01, 2011

UPDATED: Why I will be voting for NDP candidate Victor Elkins in Vancouver Quadra on Monday - not so-called "strategic" voting

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 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, well-known political columnist Lawrence Martin is reporting another good reason to reject strategic voting.

Martin writes at : "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?




DPL said...

We are fortunate in our riding to have a NDP MP, looking for her third team, and should get it. She has done a lot of work for the riding and folks who are not NDP simply consider she deserves to win. Go for it Denise, and late tomorrow evening we will know that you are heading back to Ottawa. all in all, it will be an interesting day tomorrow

Stacy said...

In response to your last question - yes, that should be what democracy is about. That said, I will not risk a Harper majority. It's just not worth it. I'm an NDP supporter but I will be voting for Joyce Murray tomorrow. I don't think I can stomach having Deborah Meredith in Parliament because the vote was split. On the other hand I'm so looking forward to voting for David Eby on the 11th. Here's to a Harper-free future!

Kevin Logan said...

There is nothing wrong with stragegic voting, it has been around since we started voting.

It is an obvious and legitimate exercise, perfectly democratic.

It is also very effective.

Its about priorities, if progressive politicians cannot cooperate to represent Canadas majority there will always be a pust to vote strategic.

Simple really. And effective.

Bernard said...

Bill, politics would be better federally if people worked for people they believed in they would accomplish so much more.

The people pushing strategic voting do more to soldify Conservative votes than make any real impact on an election

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but to attack Joyce Murray's environmental record is absurd. Murray brought forward the bill to block tanker traffic in Canada's north coast, and she sits on the Committee on Fisheries and Ocean. This is an MP who works hard for her constituents, I'm voting for Joyce Murray.

RossK said...

By my reckoning there are 18 potential strategic seats in BC that could, if they were swung, dash Mr. Harper's hopes of a majority all on their own.

And while I understand Bill's point, the last A. Reid poll reported that 50% of declared NDP and Liberal supporters are willing to vote strategically if they think it will help stop the Conservatives.

Think about that for a moment....That whack of potential strategic voters is, essentially, the same total number as allthe declared Conservative votes combined.

My list of 18 (which includes 11 Dippers btw), for anyone interested, can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday morning the Toronto Star, the most pro-federal-Liberal media outlet in Canada, broke with decades of tradition and endorsed Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party of Canada.
The Star could and has been called at numerous times the official newspaper of the Liberal Party of Canada.
And Friday evening it reported on a obviously and disgusting Harper Team generated smear story about Jack Layton being in a massage parlor many years ago.

What I have observed through this election is that Stephen Harper is an anti-social despot with a pronounced inferiority complex.
Also I have seen a federal Liberal leader equally a social outcast but for most definitely different reasons and matters of character.
Do I believe Jack Layton when he talks about what he and his party will do or promises to do . . . absolutely not.

But there is a bigger game at play here than who wins on May 2, 2011.
It is a win or lose for all of us on what constitutes democracy in this nation.
A Harper win, either as a majority or even as a minority government . . . constitutes a Clear and Present Danger to democracy and parliamentry government in Canada.

Straight to the point . . . Stephen Harper is intellectually and ethically unfit for leadership of any sovereign democratic state on earth.
Only the severe limitations of a minority government and an incestuous marriage of the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties has restrained Stephen Harper's inherent predatory and anti-democratic character.
Stephen Harper is, for lack of any better phrase or term, a despot and left unchecked he will quickly erode parliamentry democracy in this land.

In the next three days Canadians have to ask themselves do they want to live in a Christian-Corporate Reactionary state in slow transition to a leader-based-regime along the lines of 1940's Spain under Francisco Franco or 1970-80s Chile under Augusto Pinochet.
I urge you all to vote, vote for anyone but Conservatives, and if necessary hold your nose and vote strategically in your region and riding.
A majority or a minority . . . it does not matter as long as Stephen Harper holds no power on the laws or public purse of this country.

For British Columbia the best firewall for our fragile democracy will be to vote NDP as it is currently the only effective option against Harper and his 20th Century reactionaries.


Anonymous said...

What's broken is our electoral system.

The Pundits' Guide said...

Lawrence Martin is reporting on tonight that many Liberals he's talking to plan to support the Harper minority, so they can rebuild their party, rather than give NDP Jack Layton a chance to govern.

I wonder how many people have considered the possibility that a strategic vote against one party might result in that same party obtaining a confidence vote from the opposition MP elected through strategic votes.

Food for thought.

Jeff Barkley said...

I disagree with the premise of the author. Strategic voting is needed in this case, because the result of a Harper majority would be terrible and impossible to undo. Contracts are signed, that Canada will be held to in international courts. We will not be able to roll back changes without massive economic return, we will get nothing. Stephen Harper does not do anything for the people of Canada, unless you define "the people of Canada" as a few international bankers. We must use any voting strategy we have available to prevent that. It is in your interest and mine. It is in the interest of your children and their's. It is not "just an election".

Many years ago, we had a debate on Free Trade between Canada and the US. The Liberals and the NDP were against Free Trade and the Mulroney Conservatives were for it. The campaign was close, but the Liberals were ahead near the end. The then leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent, decided that to maximize the votes for the NDP he would attack the Liberal leader John Turner. That attack made the difference between a Liberal government and a Conservative one. Mulroney was elected and Free trade was signed with the US. That totally destroyed the manufacturing of Ontario, which was then blamed on Bob Rae, who was premier in Ontario.

If the NDP and the Liberals had strategically worked together at the time, we would not have been sold out to the USA with Free Trade. Even today, the effects of the free trade agreement are expanding and removing our sovereignty bit by bit.

A Harper majority would complete the sell out of Canada. Please vote strategically.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Bill I'll be voting strategically which in my riding means supporting the incumbent incumbent Liberals. I will not take a chance on the NDP fort fear of splitting the vote.

A Harper majority will not be on my hands.

Anonymous said...

"The people pushing strategic voting do more to soldify Conservative votes than make any real impact on an election"

Strategic voting can also work any which way you choose. It does not apply to any specific party or interest. Think about it.

On second thought, forget it. Just vote for who you think would best represent the constituents.

Anonymous said...

Bill would have voted NDP anyway.
He's NDP, Elkins is NDP, so what else is there?

Bill Tieleman said...

A few replies - to Anon 9:14 p.m. - did you actually read the linked item about Joyce Murray's environmental record as BC minister? Introducing a private members bill on oil tankers that has no chance of passing is nothing compared to what damage she personally did.

Second - if everyone in past elections had "strategically" voted, there would not be any NDP members in Parliament - it would be a 2-party system like in the US with 2 right of centre parties.

Third - check the Liberal actual record in office - there's a reason it's said that "The Liberals campaign from the left and govern from the right"!

Anonymous said...

Bill, it's like you want a Harper majority.

Your update isn't swaying me (or others it seems). I'll still be voting strategically which means Liberal because the Liberal in my riding has the best chance of beating the con. If that was an NDP candidate I'd be voting NDP.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting Liberal in my riding too as the NDP can't win with West Van included. I'm not sending a Con back again - not having that on my hands. I've even convinced my husband not to cancel my vote out so for the first time ever, he isn't voting NDP either. Not because we don't want to see Jack Layton as PM, but because we do so we have to send a Liberal in to take out one of Harper's own.

Anonymous said...

"Second - if everyone in past elections had "strategically" voted, there would not be any NDP members in Parliament - it would be a 2-party system like in the US with 2 right of centre parties."

Bullcookies. How do you think Broadbent did so well without "strategic voting"?? Also, given the culture in B.C. Ontario, and in Saskabush and Manitoba, there would always be NDP. The reason for 2 parties in the States is mainly because of their political culture down there. The Democrats extend to the right wing fringes of the NDP. Labor supports the Democrats as Labour supports the NDP here at home.

"Third - check the Liberal actual record in office - there's a reason it's said that "The Liberals campaign from the left and govern from the right"!"

No question there, but the Liberals haven't been in power since 2004.

They are wishy washy.