2015 Federal Election | Is Strategic Voting Worth the Risk?

Posted by Asha Kaur & filed under Current Affairs, Politics.


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With almost a twofold increase in voter turnout for advance polls, it is clear this federal election is already distinct from the last.

The resentment brooding since Harper’s first minority victory is at a boil, and public dissatisfaction with the current Conservative government has been an extremely hot topic in the media.

Whether it be his latently islamophobic bias, his counterproductive actions for women’s issues, his deteriorating relations with indigenous people, or his voter suppression scandal, Harper has successfully alienated a wide array of Canadians over his almost ten years in power. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Canadians didn’t actually vote for Harper, Canada has nonetheless functioned a Conservative majority with only 39 percent of the vote.

In this state of desperation, the phrase “Anybody but Harper” is massively persuasive.

These frustrating symptoms of a broken electoral system are surfacing in the form of democratic advocacy groups. From organizations like Lead Now, Vote Together, Strategic Voting, and Sluts Against Harper, progressive groups are working vigilantly to avoid another Harper government produced by a split progressive vote.

These advocacy groups are currently at the forefront of Canada’s strategic voting movement. The strategy is simple: vote for who you don’t want rather than who you do want.

Understandably, many have been strongly skeptical of this approach.

Firstly, the accuracy of polls used to determine strategic voting has been widely contested. Many cite it as being unreliable and misleading, as Jagmeet Singh explains in the case of Brampton-East.

Another complication of strategic voting is that it doesn’t necessarily ensure a change to policy that Canadians care about. Many argue that having a potential Liberal victory would be only marginally different from a Conservative one. Voting strategically also has the consequence of unfairly muzzling progressive parties, such as the Green Party by favouring more popular parties closer to the middle of the political spectrum.

Simply put, Canadians voting strategically is risky and may not actually provide real change that progressive voters desire. Despite this, strategic voting may still be a viable step towards change.Though it entails a risk and may not necessarily ensure radical change, ridding Canada of another Conservative government paves the way for future progression.

As it stands now, Canada’s democratic system is broken and doesn’t necessarily represent the vast majority of Canadians. The fact that the strategic voting movement has picked up so much momentum is revealing of increasing frustration with Canada’s first-past-the-post-system.

The unfortunate reality is that the only real chance that progressive Canadians have for change is voting reform. Proportional representation would massively increase visibility for marginalized groups, like the Green party. The possibility of proportional representation only exists in a Canada not ruled by a Harper government. Despite diluting the individual voter’s power, strategic voting creates a collective voice demanding change that truly opens the possibility of real change. The rise of groups like Lead Now signifies a general increase in political engagement among Canadians. Strategic voting organizers plan to continue lobbying for progressive change in politics.

Regardless of what happens on October 19th, the increased engagement in politics already demonstrated is a promising sign for democracy in Canada.

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