Well, the longest election in modern Canadian history is finally over, and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals achieved an amazing and historic result — with a side of warm fuzzies (or indigestion) for anyone who remembers and loved (or hated) his father, arguably our most polarizing and famous prime minister ever, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. That said, I don’t want to talk about political opinion or the ramifications of who won and lost, but I do want to rant a little bit about a new election phenomenon that bugs me — Strategic Voting.
Now, I’ll admit I’m a diehard Liberal and thrilled with the result of this election for two reasons: the record voter turnout (you rock my fellow Canadians!!), and because I disagreed with Stephen Harper and his government on most things over the past ten years. However, I disagree with the “toss Harper at any cost” bandwagon even more. Really? Any cost? That’s a dangerous sentiment, my disgruntled progressive friends.
Though the Liberals and their supporters have every reason to be to be pleased with their new record breaking majority government, and even more reasons to be proud of the powerful campaign they ran, some of the success is undoubtedly due to the hatred people have for Harper’s leadership style and the opinion he’d been in power too long — as evidenced by the vocal and in our face plea to vote “Anyone But Harper” or “Anything But Conservative”. It was a movement that swept across the country over the past few weeks as Liberal momentum kept growing, but I think it’s an unhealthy and very unCanadian sentiment that weakens our great nation.
What bothered me about this is that so many people dared to presume it’s their mission and obligation to implore their fellow citizens to vote for whomever stands the best chance of defeating an unpopular incumbent government, rather than the candidate and party they actually want and believe best represents their ideals and needs. These strategic voter people even have a
brazen helpful website where voters (presumably unable to think for themselves) can find a handy recommendation as to which candidate has the best chance of being elected and beating the conservative candidate. WTF?
I’m sorry, but my democratic right to vote shouldn’t be about ditching my political will or hedging my liberal bets, and I was appalled to see people banding together en masse to do whatever it took to take down the Conservatives, even if it meant voting for a party they didn’t support or believe in. It was shocking, disappointing, and insulting to my intelligence. You know what I believe in? Every Canadian taking a stand and voting for their beliefs, and then demanding their MP’s govern with integrity and follow through on all the promises they make.
I’m well aware that lots of people will disagree with my opinion on this and proclaim with righteous indignation that the electoral system is broken, and perhaps it is, but to say that anything was worth making sure Harper and his cronies lost, isn’t the way to fix it. Prostituting votes, and that’s what this is, doesn’t lend credibility to your cause…just sayin’.
Strategic voting just feels wrong to me on every level, never mind the disgusting lack of respect this whole movement displayed towards our elected officials who’ve served our country with dedication and passion for a decade. The unhappy reality is that true change isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always come fast. It certainly doesn’t come from settling for your second, third, (or worse, your never choice) and hoping you’ll be happy — it comes from supporting what you believe in and pressuring candidates to reflect it. This time, by voting for the candidate I felt had the best experience, background, and platform, I did make a difference and it surprised me, happily so — my candidate beat his conservative opponent in a very tight race, with a very small margin. If I, and all those other people who voted for my candidate, decided to vote strategically, he wouldn’t have won, and neither would the NDP guy the bandwagon people recommended as the only chance my riding had to defeat the Conservatives. Ironic, eh?
Anyway, I’ll stop my little diatribe now, but I just want to say that I hope the new Liberal government exceeds expectations and makes good on its promise to be inclusive and bi-partisan. I’m optimistic they will, and I hope that the next four years will provide many opportunities to find middle ground for conservatives and progressives alike on the biggest issues we face.
Lastly, I’m curious whether all the people who voted Anyone But Harper, are happy with this overwhelming majority that gives these untested Liberals carte blanche for four years, or is it an uncomfortable shock to realize how much control they’ve handed to Trudeau and his party? I’m happy of course, but I would have been happier to see a healthy liberal minority that eased us into change with solid checks and balances, and I sincerely hope the A.B.C. people who voted out of spite for Harper, realize they’ll have no one to blame but themselves if this new majority government isn’t what they wanted after all.