In Canada’s antique First Past The Post electoral system, smart people end up saying stupid things. Add to the list Peter’s claim, “I believe that every Green vote is, in effect, a vote for Stephen Harper.”
I must admit, I’ve pondered a similar thought at times, but call it my mild partisanship, or possible mental retardation, but I really don’t believe that it’s an accurate assessment of the situation. Take the riding of Wascana as an example. If there was a safe seat for the Liberals in the west, this is it (and I just happen to live here). Pretend I lost my mental faculties and voted for Ralph Goodale instead of Bill Clary of the Greens on May 2nd. What result would that have? Would Peter’s claim be true? No. It would add $2 to the Green Party for next election, and Ralph would still get his seat. Assume 10 of my friends, and 10 of each of their friends did the same thing as me. Ralph would still get his seat. “But how?!” you puzzle incredulously. Because it’s my complete speculation that the overwhelming number of Green voters are first time voters. They aren’t flipping from the Liberals, or NDP, they haven’t voted before, period.
And the Greens are certainly not inspiring new Conservative voters, for one thing most Conservatives aren’t concerned about us taking votes from their candidates, or mounting enough of a total to challenge them directly either. If anything, they’re more complacent because they are resting their hopes on vote splitting that may not happen. It’s business as usual, for them, which describes their view of the environment too I might add.
By some coincidence Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, agrees with me:
Caller from Toronto asks about Vote Splitting. The caller knows people who are concerned.
Answer from May: Common fear among progressives, but they are forgetting that last electoral result wasn’t due to vote splitting (or even happened in spite of it). NDP strategy changed in 2006 to side with the Conservatives to destroy the Liberals. Greens being present changes party strategies. Last election the only party to increase voting base was the Greens. “Greens kept people in the process”[…]“asking people to vote for something they believe in”. “Holding the line between” a minority and Harper majority.
Harper hasn’t put Mulroney’s success in Quebec together, he can’t get a majority.
“A minority government is not a ‘win’ for the party with the most seats.” “The GG should be asking ALL the parties who is best to form government.”
A vote for the Greens, in many ridings, is certainly not a vote for Conservatives. Are there exceptions? Possibly, but they must be narrowly identified, and a careless brushstroke that paints “every” Green vote as Blue, only hurts our democracy as much as Stephen Harper already has. Don’t deprive the Greens of needed votes to bolster their legitimacy, instead encourage more of your progressive friends to vote for whichever party they support, and Get Out The Vote above all else so there are enough Liberals to form government with a few Green MPs in the backbenches.
And since I know Liberals are reading this, I should point out that there are seats in Saskatchewan that could go NDP instead of Conservative if every Liberal voter went with the NDP candidate instead (and vice versa). Put that into your thinking caps, and come up with a solution for the old parties to work with each other before we might regret the result on May 2nd. How can the progressive parties informally and actively assist each other in these vulnerable Conservative ridings? Progressive car pools to the polls? Release better platforms that immediately address FPTP electoral deficiency? What else?