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Green Party candidates Ken Melamed and Elizabeth May. Photo by Rik Jespersen, The Local Weekly

Green Party candidates Ken Melamed and Elizabeth May. Photo by Rik Jespersen, The Local Weekly

The critical question that arises out of the political campaign at this point is whether or not “strategic voting” is going to kill the Green Party.

There’s no doubt that they are hurting badly at this point. Stephen Harper has forced voters to where they believe they must must consider any possible strategy by which they can get rid of him and see “strategic voting” as the only way. (For political neophytes, if any exist in this country, that simply means voting for the person you think is best able to defeat the candidate you most don’t want, even though you may not like the person you are voting for.) In my constituency the general feeling is that the incumbent, John Weston, a Tory, must be tossed out and at this writing, the Liberal candidate seems to be favoured to do that over the Green. I might also add that a very substantial part of the electorate is very impressed with the Green candidate, Ken Melamed, but campaigners tell me that on the doorstep people are worried about voting for him lest he split the vote and let Weston back in.

Time will tell, but at least we can now ask this question – what the hell kind of a voting system gets electors considering whom to vote against not whom to support? This, when you think of it, is an outrageous concept in a democracy.

When it’s all over and we’re finally rid of Harper and his ilk – and even if we don’t – it’s time for everyone, of whatever political persuasion, to work together to develop a better system.

I have asked before and ask again “what’s the matter with a system which results in the Minister of Finance having to ask for supply, not presenting it as a done deal?”

“What’s the matter with a system where the government must achieve some measure of consensus in the House for their policy and legislation?”

This is, of course, what happens with minority government and somehow all the political establishment, left and right, has so demonized minority governments that the public is scared of them, whereas the record is generally good and stable government.

Reform will take some time and should not be rushed. There are God only knows how many options available and they must be thrashed out and compromises achieved. We will never come up with a perfect solution – for far too long Canadians have made perfection the enemy of improvement. It’s time we matured lest history keep repeating itself.

As to the main question, no I do not think that the Green Party will be destroyed – in fact I think their prestige has been greatly enhanced by a good campaign and a leader who has shown herself to be clearly the best of the lot, though that may be damning with very faint praise.

In all seriousness, I believe that Elizabeth May has established herself as a first class politician, in the best meaning of that word, with a sound approach to government and understanding of the country. I have no doubt that the Green Party will gain strength in the years to come. It won’t come easily, for political power never does, but the party has established itself as a player, not just an aberration of the moment.

The main thing to me is that we wake up from this nightmare pledged to do something to ensure it is never repeated because we had the wit to change to a system where members of parliament simply won’t permit it because they have that power.

But it’s a lot like writing a book – you have to hit that first key and start writing. Overcoming inertia is tough but if we don’t, we’re doomed to repeat a system which has badly let us down and has all the necessary potential to destroy the country.

3 Responses to “Strategic voting, electoral reform, and the Green Party”

  1. Cocoabean says:

    I confess to voting (in the advance poll) Marxist-Leninist. Not because of anything remotely resembling any conviction in the direction of Marxism but merely in utter desperation at the complete similarity between the Four Major Parties.

    If we can’t downsize national-level government to a size which allows it to control not much more than food inspection and fishing licenses, then perhaps we’d better do as you say and change this archaic first-past-the-post electoral system. Something designed in the middle of the 19th century, intended for electoral districts in which nearly everyone knew everyone else and in which an actual poll was often unnecessary (& done by show of hands sometimes) cannot serve any useful purpose today.

    What about bringing back B.C.’s single transferable ballot, which was used in 1952-53? When even one’s second and third choices get to count, one can freely vote one’s heart.

  2. Rafe says:

    That may be the answer. Interesting to note that WAC wion a minority government then couldn’t wait to get back to FPTP knowing that was the only way he could get a majority government.

    We must get over this irrational fear of minority governments and recognize that they mean every MP counts. They don’t fall all the time – no MP wants to risk his seat before absolutely necessary. Moreover, elections cost a lot of money.

    What happens, though, is that MPs have a hammer again meaning governments must consult, not dictate.

  3. Bays blackhall says:

    I agree that the green party represents most of our ideals for the government so I will vote green. However, a lot of our friends are going to vote strategically in order to encourage change. Again I am afraid that if the NDP and the Liberals get enough votes each perhaps the Conservatives will come up the middle. Not an agreeable thought.
    Good comments Rafe.

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