Sunday, October 20, 2019


Wouldn't it be great if you could vote the way you want to?

Very rarely have I had the privilege of doing so in Canada, thanks to our antiquated, oughta-be-unconstitutional first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system. It usually means that a minority of voters can hand a party a substantial majority, and the Prime Minister of a majority government in Canada has much more domestic power than a U.S. President (at least one who doesn't believe his powers are limitless and who has an entire Senate shoved up his bean-blower, anyway).
It means that many people don't vote. And those who do often have to vote "strategically", i.e. instead of voting for the party and leader you actually support, you hold your nose and vote for the party and leader most likely to block your worst nightmare from coming true. If you're an NDP voter in a staunch Conservative riding, or vice versa, your vote is utterly pointless.

Justin Trudeau was supposed to change that. He promised to do so, repeatedly. He said that 2015 would be the last election with FPTP, that in 2019 we would be working with some kind of proportional representation, so that, say, 30% of the votes would mean 30% of the seats. You know, a sensible electoral system.

He promised.  And then when it dawned on him that the most likely result of PR would be a string of minority governments, Trudeau folded like a cheap tent.  Irony of ironies: if you believe the polls, the most likely result tomorrow is a Liberal minority.

But if the polls come true, it won't be thanks to me. When Trudeau reneged on that promise, he lost my vote.

You know my political leanings, Dear Reader. It may surprise you to learn I was once a solid Conservative, back when the word "Progressive" was part of the party name. No longer, not for many years. And especially not now, as the Conservative Party of Canada edges further and further right.

Kim Campbell, a Conservative, once supposedly said that "an election is no time to discuss serious issues." That quote, like many political quotes, has been taken out of context so often that almost nobody remembers what she actually said, which was that 47 days (the length of a Canadian election, look upon us, ye Yanks, and weep) was not enough time to discuss the serious overhaul of Canadian social policy that she felt Canada needed".

Trudeau would later get the same treatment. He's widely believed to have said "the budget will balance itself". The full quote was "the commitment needs to be a commitment to grow the economy and the budget will balance itself". That's not substantially different from something Stephen Harper had said six years earlier. It passed unnoticed when Harper said it; Trudeau was excoriated.

Anyway, Kim Campbell's supposed quote seems more and more relevant today, when the election is not about issues but about past and imagined future scandals. It's another reason I'm not voting Liberal this time around: Trudeau's entire platform is about how evil Andrew Scheer is. The fact I largely agree with this assessment is of no concern. I want to see leaders and platforms that articulate a vision for the country, not endless mud-slinging.

So I'm not voting Liberal and I sure as hell am not voting Conservative. That leaves the NDP and the Greens.

Jagmeet Singh was a huge disappointment, probably at least as much of one as Trudeau...until the campaign started. Then he caught fire. It's not quite Layton's Orange Crush, but it's more than a Fanta Sea, for sure. While not a contender for the big prize, the NDP does stand to hold the balance of power in a Liberal minority, and that's about as positive an outcome as I can realistically hope for in a Canadian election at this point in time. I could have voted NDP with no qualms whatsoever. There are those who would suggest I should have. I was GOING to, until I got behind the screen...and voted Green.

Why would I do such a thing? FPTP.

My riding is safely Liberal. Were it less safe, I would likely have held my nose (and other parts of my body, I really don't like Trudeau) and voted Liberal myself. As it stood, I could vote NDP or Green without fear of the Conservatives sneaking up the middle of the left's split vote.

And I like the Greens. I like May, who's been leader of her party longer than any of the others have been of theirs. I like their platform, which is the only one that takes climate change even remotely seriously, plans to create a Universal Basic Income program I STRONGLY support...and explicitly guarantees the bodily autonomy of women, among many other positive points. I like that the Greens are starting to get more visibility. And so I did something I haven't done in an election since Layton was alive: I voted my conscience.

I hope you're in a position where you can vote yours. But even if not, I would urge you to vote. If you hate FPTP like I do, vote for a party that's promising to abolish it -- the NDP or the Greens. Regardless, please vote--because not voting does NOT send a message.
This election is CLOSE. I doubt any of you really don't care if we get a Liberal or a Conservative government--the two parties have radically different views of how this country should be. So go here, look up your riding, and vote strategically if you must.

Just vote. It matters.

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