Monday, October 13, 2008

Election Eve post from Guelph

It seems like the campaigning has been going on for months, and I'm fed up with it. The fact that here in Guelph we went from a seven-week by-election campaign straight into the main campaign hasn't helped. Nor has the fact that it has been such an uninspiring campaign season. None of the four major contenders in Ontario has lit a fire under me with their vision for the country. I'm tired of watching the nonstop barrage of polls. And there is something daunting about the prospect of another two or three years of minority government, with an imminent election call continuing to hang over us like a sword of Damocles. All of this is a rather feeble explanation for my poor blogging performance over the past few months.

All that whining aside, I regularly participate in an election pool with friends who are respectively Liberal, NDP and Green supporters. The pot goes to whoever predicts the most individual riding results correctly. I just filled out my answers today, and was rather relieved to come up with a result that doesn't produce a Conservative majority - and I tend to be pessimistic about whether the better angels or worst demons will win out with voters on election day. For what it's worth, I currently have the Liberals losing about 8-10 seats, with the Conservatives and NDP splitting the spoils.

My local riding is actually the hardest one for me to predict. It has been a very long, very tightly fought race here in Guelph. Although I think it will ultimately come down to a couple of thousand (or even a few hundred) votes separating the Liberals and the Conservatives (although I'm not certain which one comes out on top), I will not be surprised if all four major parties snag 20% of the vote each. The Greens have probably run the most active of the four campaigns - I can't move without tripping over one of their signs, or running into Mike Nagy's volunteers around town. I think that their support is probably going to hold through election day, particularly since the students are back. The big question is how many NDP supporters will stick with Tom King, with the party polling well across the country, and how many will bolt to the Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote once in the polling booth to block Conservative Gloria Kovach. It's quite clear that as a whole, Guelph is leaning to the left. But this will be a nasty split of the vote. It all speaks to the need for some form of electoral reform in the direction of proportional representation, a single transferable vote, or a mixed member system, as Fair Vote Canada has been advocating.

While it makes me ill to think that Stephen Harper's Conservatives could sneak out a majority win with 34-35% of the total national vote, I don't think that the solution is for everyone to blindly attempt strategic voting (although if you're thinking of this, please consult Democratic Space's Guide), or simply to throw their votes to the Liberals. As long as Canadians keep doing this, it will simply reinforce the argument that our electoral system is functional. It clearly isn't, and unfortunately it might take a few more elections where a party like the Greens win 8-10% of the vote, but fail to win a single seat in the House of Commons, before voters wake up and realize that change is necessary, and actually support a referendum vote on a new system.

Whatever your political leanings are, please vote tomorrow! Apathy only reinforces the existing problems with our political system.

Update: Democratic Space seems to be having trouble this afternoon and evening - a DoS attack, perhaps? For the left-leaning and strategic voting-minded, try Vote for Environment, which has similar advice.

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At 12:53 pm, Blogger Wilfred Day said...

"try Vote for Environment, which has similar advice"? Not in Guelph, where it says Vote Liberal. By contrast, DemocraticSpace says this is not a suitable riding for strategic voting. Greg calls the Liberal safe, 9% ahead of the Conservative, with the Green and NDP close behind, so you can "vote with your heart."

But of course you are right: electoral reform in the direction of proportional representation is the only real answer.


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