This blog is divided into three parts. The first addresses why the CPC would be bad for Canada, in case anyone is not yet convinced or needs some extra information. The second is why we need to vote ABC/strategically and how we might make that work. The third is some ideas of how we get out of this trap of having to vote strategically every time to keep the wolves at bay. So it's really three blogs in one!
Why The CPC Would Be Bad For Canada
I recognise that the CPC is a vastly different party from the Progressive Conservatives. They have purged the "Red Tories" from their ranks - those who believed in social programs and finding compassionate solutions to social issues. The new CPC wants none of that. They like to punish. They don't want to look at best practices from other jurisdictions for revamping of our criminal justice system. Instead they want to become more like the American system, which clearly isn't working. "Tough on Crime" is their mantra. Locking people up for longer and longer in worse and worse conditions does not make communities safer. These things do not reduce recidivism. We know what does - addressing the problems and skills deficits that caused the individual to commit crime in the first place - but the CPC don't want to see that.
They are not interested in addressing climate change because any effective action would negatively affect the bottom lines of their overlords, their corporate sponsors.
They are not interested in reconciliation. Murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls were not even on their radar when Stephen Harper was in power.
They lean towards privatisation of health care and education, and would like to dismantle these two fundamental Canadian values. And even if they say otherwise, they are giving signs that this is how they would proceed. Scheer promises to increase funding for health by 3% a year, hoping no one knows that the Liberals have already agreed and budgeted to increase it by significantly more, thus making Scheer's words a promise of a cut. This against the backdrop of Ford's cuts to Ontario's healthcare system and the CPC holding fund-raising events to talk about the "Business" of Health Care. Health care is not a for-profit business in Canada. We do not profit from the suffering of our fellow citizens.
Scheer has promised to subsidise parents putting their children in private schools, Ford has cut education funding, and suddenly an organisation whose mission is to promote private education has set up shop in Ontario. (update: Apparently Scheer has walked back on his subsidy promise. I imagine it wasn't polling well. Doesn't change anything, really. It could still turn up in a 400+ page budget down the road.)
The new CPC are not afraid to flaunt their religious views. Indeed, it was to some significant degree, the socially conservative faith community (most notably the anti-abortion organisations) that got Scheer the leadership of the CPC. Although he says he won't personally bring in any anti-abortion or anti-LGBTQ legislation, Andrew Scheer has told anti-choice groups that he will allow his MPS to bring such legislation forward.
The CPC like to continue the "tough guy" image with their ardent support for the military. They talk a lot about their support, but over the decade of the Harper Government, failed to accomplish much. Apart from closing Veterans Service Centres, making veterans cry at meetings, and lying to the country about fighter jets, Scheer, like his former boss, has an ambitious military agenda, but there are doubts about how he could accomplish what he says he would do.
Scheer would like pay for the privilege off having American nukes in our high Arctic. He says, effectively, that he would swagger around the world, getting tough with China and Russia, while getting closer to the US and Israel (he would move the Canadian Embassy to Jerusalem). He has also said the Liberal government has been very rude to Saudi Arabia over the murder of the journalist, Khashoggi, and he would work to build closer ties with the kingdom.
Andrew Scheer's policy on firearms would have Canada move away from a public safety focus on gun control and towards a gun lobby focus. This would bring Canada more in line with the close association between the GOP and the NRA.
This pair of tweets gives a good idea of how Andrew Scheer views government-funded programs and initiatives, in general, and public/social programs in particular. And the fallacy of that view.
And this is why we can never have nice things when we have a conservative government.
Our socialised health care is much less expensive than health care in the US for 2 reasons. 1) The Americans have to factor in profit for all the various entities involved in providing health care because it is provided by private, for-profit corporations, and 2) when we pool our resources together we can use the power of volume purchases to negotiate lower prices on medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, etc. And we never get billed personally for the care that gets us well and keeps us well.
I could go on at length about many other things the CPC have done and are very likely to do again, like muzzling scientists and attacking our judiciary... But maybe it is enough to point out that they lie.
- About NAFTA
- About the Canada Food Guide
- About the Carbon Levy
- About Climate Change
- About increasing funding for Health Care
Why We Need To Vote ABC/Strategically
In the recent Alberta election, Jason Kenney and his UCP won with a majority. Ever since, no matter what the UCP does, commentators say, well, most Albertans, or a majority of Albertans, wanted this party to govern.
But is that true? Let's look at the numbers.
Yes, I know the meme says UPC, not UCP. Sorry. I didn't make it. I'm just borrowing it.
So, what is happening here? 1,040,001 Albertans voted UCP. That's only 35% of eligible voters. Another 29% voted for a different party.
64% of Albertans voted.
This means 36% of eligible Albertan voters did not vote.
We know that CONSERVATIVES ALWAYS VOTE. So, there's a pretty good chance that those 36% that didn't vote... probably most of them would not have voted UCP if they had gone and cast a ballot. We might have an NDP government still in Alberta if even half of those 1,055,065 people had gone and voted.
What do we learn from this?
First, Alberta has slightly higher than the national average concentration of conservative voters (35% vs 30%).
Second, every progressive vote counts. Let's say that together: Every. Progressive. Vote. Counts.
Third, It is reasonable to expect, statistically, that approximately 30% of every riding will vote conservative. Give or take 10%, depending on the riding. And they WILL VOTE.
Now, for the sake of argument let's say there are 100 people eligible to vote in a riding. 30 of them vote CPC. They go and vote. 35% planned to vote Liberal, but 2 of them get busy at work and miss the close of the polling station. 1 can't get a ride to their polling station. 7 of them decide they are mad at the Liberals but they don't like any of the other parties, so they don't vote, as a protest. So 25 people vote Liberal. 7 vote Green. 14 vote NDP. The remaining 16% don't vote because they couldn't decide who to vote for, didn't know their employer had to give them time off to vote, or they weren't aware there was an election on. And, boom. The riding has a CPC MP.
A thing I always hear when I advocate for strategic voting to keep the CPC out of power is something like what one reader offered in a comment to another post:
This is a great concern to many people. "Yes," they tell me, "Yes. We had to get rid of Harper. It was ok to vote strategically then because Harper was destroying the country. But I want to go back to voting my conscience. I don't want to reward the Liberals for doing ______________ (fill in the blank) by giving them another term. I don't want the CPC to win, but I don't want to vote Liberal. We shouldn't have to vote for the lesser of two evils."
I agree. We shouldn't have to.
I would also like to point out that if you vote Scheer in, or allow him to be voted in, in four years you will be as desperate to vote him out as you were to vote Harper out in 2015. And there will have been four more years of degradation of Canadian institutions in the interim. Do you really need to do that, do you really need to put yourself and everyone you know through that, to be convinced to vote strategically?
As I said at the outset, I am not, in the usual scheme of things, a Liberal supporter. But I am a pragmatist and I believe that a CPC government will so drastically change Canada over 4 years that we may not be able to ever get things back the way they were. Once things are privatised, it is very hard to make them public again. I am talking about health care and education, primarily, but there will probably be other things as well. Infrastructure, for example. Airports, bridges, etc. And we will get to pay for the privilege of using them.
Let's look at that scenario again.
100 voters. 30 will vote CPC, come hell or high water. 40 voted Liberal last election. But 12 are disillusioned with the Liberals and they decide to cast protest votes,5 for the Greens and 7 for the NDP. Another 7 were going to vote for the Greens anyway, so that's 12 Green votes. 13 were going to vote NDP, so that's a total of 20 for the NDP. The other 10 don't bother to vote or can't get there.
Once again you wind up with a CPC MP.
But, what if, what even a few people in the riding decided to vote for the candidate most likely to win that isn't a CPC candidate?
30 will always vote CPC
13 would vote Green
23 would vote NDP
20 would vote Liberal
14 are undecided or not interested in politics
Now, if some of these people do some checking, talking to their neighbours, go to a town hall and try to gauge the mood, look at local polls and so on, and decide that the NDP has the best shot at getting the seat if people vote strategically, then there are some things they can do. They can try to convince others to vote NDP. They can volunteer for door-knocking. They can volunteer for "get-out-the-vote" either call with reminders, or diving people to the polls. Then we could see something like this:
And, Voila! A non-CPC MP. This comes of 5 Liberals voting NDP, 4 Greens voting NDP, and 2 non-voters being convinced they should vote (NDP).
Here is the reality:
Liberals and CPC are neck and neck. NDP is third with between 10 and 20% of the vote. The Greens are sitting with between 8 and 15%.
Realistically speaking, the Greens are not going to muster double the support they have now before October, and even that would not be enough to win. The NDP, likewise, are not going to increase their vote share sufficiently to form government. If we do the strategic voting thing very well, however, a coalition of NDP and Greens might be able to form the official opposition. If the CPC form government, especially with a majority, it won't matter much who forms opposition because the CPC will go ahead and do whatever they want. They aren't known for collaborating or considering other points of view. But, a minority Liberal government with Greens and NDP holding the balance of power... A government like that could really get things done.
It is essential that we do not elect a CPC government. They only represent about a third of the population. They should not have 100% of the power.
And we must remember that this election we are liable to see more and worse dirty tricks from the CPC. They have not won an election they have not cheated in. Furthermore, it seems we may be targeted for more voter manipulation and suppression this year, more than in the past.
It might interest you to know that some of those on the right also are making choices now that there is a second right-wing party at the federal level. The Gun Blog offers some interesting insights, including this:
But, how do we make it stop? How do we get off this merry-go-round of electoral cycles where our health care, our education system, our environment, our democracy are under attack? How do we get back to a situation where people can vote for what they believe in instead of having to hold their noses to avoid catastrophe?
How Do We Make It Stop?
I have been thinking about this a lot. We need to get off this ride.
We do not want or need a two party system. The problem of late is that the CPC is such a toxic entity. Even if you didn't like the PCs, when they won you would know that it would be tough but things would carry on. They would make things uncomfortable for a lot of people for four years, but then we could elect the Liberals and they would sort things out after a fashion.
Now though... The CPC, as I have said before, are not the PCs.
The CPC are an existential threat to a lot of people. LGBTQ+. women, seniors, veterans, the poor, Indigenous people, refugees, Muslims, people of colour, people with disabilities, anyone affected by climate change, anyone who might get sick or injured, anyone who might get caught in a shooting involving newly accessible firearms... A lot of people. The CPC are not our friends. They don't give a damn if we live or die. They are focused on getting elected and fulfilling their promises to their donors. And also bringing Harper's vision to fruition. Perhaps you have seen this quote from L'Actualite in Montreal...
If the CPC win, Canada will be a sinking ship. Look what Ford has done in Ontario. Look what Jason Kenney has done in just a few months in Alberta. These guys are ready to harvest. They aren't going to waste any time with niceties if they win a majority. And even if Canadians take to the streets in protest and are kettled and tear-gassed, it won't change a thing.
We cannot let them win.
But, we need a strategy going forward to stop this crazy ride. We need to get out of the boat. We need to get off this ride.
So, assuming we are successful, how do we go forward?
I know in October 2015, after the Liberals won, many of us who had been fighting the good fight for a long time celebrated and heaved a collective sigh of relief, and we went back to our normal lives, basking in the glorious knowledge that the "bad man" was gone.
But he's not gone. And he's not even on the ticket but his fingers are still in every pie.
What do we do to stop this?
First of all, if we are very successful in out-voting the conservatives, who always vote, we will see a lot more Green and NDP faces in the House. And fewer conservative faces. This is contingent upon getting people who don't normally vote, out to the polls. This is contingent upon talking to people who are on the fence and convincing them to support the most viable candidate in their riding who could keep the seat away from a CPC candidate.
My riding is rural southern Alberta. The people around here like to boast that they "bleed blue". Many have never voted anything but conservative their whole lives. But, there are pockets of progressiveness. And in such a riding, some people may not vote because they don't feel their vote can make any difference. My plan is to go to town halls and ask the CPC candidate (if they show up, they rarely do) some hard questions. I will try to figure out which candidate has the best chance of beating the CPC and volunteer to door-knock for them.
But, if overall we are successful, then it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We need to advocate for changes in all three progressive parties. We need to write letters (snail mail physical letters get more attention than emails, I have been told - mostly because they are unusual). We need to show up at events. We need to take our party of choice to task about why they are not very electable. What is wrong with the Greens or the NDP right now that makes them the third and fourth choice across the country? How do we change that?
Maybe that means volunteering outside of the election cycle. Maybe it means putting your hat in the ring if you think you can muster the support in your riding. It means advocacy on a grand scale to make sure the message gets out there. Maybe it means pushing for a leadership review. Any party that is going to stand a chance of challenging the two established parties needs a visionary leader. Someone with passion and charisma.
This is how we upset the handbasket we are headed to hell in.
We need to become politically active. We need to effect change from within the "minor" parties
But first, we need to keep the CPC out. Reduce their seat count. Advocate for electoral reform that gives much more power to the Elections commissioner to investigate and prosecute fraud and cheating and voter suppression. Advocate for reforms that make it easier for the marginalised people in society to vote. Advocate for changes to the third party spending rules and effective enforcement.
Eventually, this may lead to a discussion of alternate electoral systems. It would be amazing to actually be represented in my riding. That hasn't happened at the federal level since I have lived here (11 years). But we have a lot of other work to do first.
Just changing our voting system to an alternative to First Past The Post is not a panacea. Whether it benefits the country or not depends on which of a number of systems is chosen. And there are many opinions about which is the best. We need to educate ourselves on this subject so we can educate others and have informed dialogue about the options.
In short, this time around, win or lose, we can't put our feet up. There is a lot of work to be done to build up and protect democracy in Canada and preserve the institutions we hold dear.
A final thought: