I’m sure there was a betting pool in a few back rooms over when this would happen: May has just told people not to vote for her. Or rather, that they should vote for anyone but Harper. Translated, this means that as expected, in return for not running against her in Central Nova, May is now campaigning for the Liberal party. Calling her plan “proportional representation by other means”, she criticizes the NDP for not being willing to take a few safe seats in return for supporting the Green-Liberal alliance, a preposterous notion if I ever heard one. Meanwhile, Harper’s strategy seems to be to stay far away from the general public and just concentrate on getting out the vote amongst his supporters, in part by fanatically tight message control: he forbids candidates from discussing anything other than local issues; national policy is strictly for the federal office.
The discourse around this election seems to focus on pro- and anti-Harper camps, ignoring the significant differences between the other parties. The NDP doesn’t seem to worry that their strategy of concentrating on attacking Harper might backfire by failing to list the differences between their policies and those of the Liberals. Then again, if a voter’s first priority is defeating Harper, all that’s needed is to cast yourself as the most effective opposition. Harper’s response to this is to warn people of the dangers of voting strategically, since with two-thirds of the country against him this is his biggest fear (although what exactly the “danger” is changes depending on which riding he’s in that day).
Also, why on earth isn’t all this complicated talk of how to best vote strategically not translating into support for reforming our voting system? I mean, Vote for Environment put a huge amount of work into their site, and it’s as good a tool as I’ve seen for determining how to vote “for the environment” (by which they mean “against the Conservatives”), but I would have covered it with pleas to campaign for electoral reform while I was at it. Incidentally, while the VfE people claim to be presenting unbiased opinions about how to best defeat the Conservatives, that doesn’t stop them from advising a Green vote in Conservative-held Central Nova, despite the NDP having won more votes than the Greens and Liberals combined in 2006. Apparently they’d rather see Elizabeth May place well than unseat cabinet minister and Conservative deputy leader Peter MacKay.
sigh People. You enfranchise them, and look what they do with their votes. Maybe we should try taking the vote away from men for 51 years to make up for 1867 through 1918 or something. Or we could disenfranchise settlers (you know, everyone other than Aboriginal Canadians) for 93 years to make up for 1867 through 1960. I mean, it’s not like our current system is doing so well. Do you have any better ideas?