Thursday, August 6, 2015

How We Are Helping Stephen Harper Destroy Our Democracy

This year, the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will be sending a delegation to Canada to monitor our upcoming election.

This is primarily in response to sweeping changes to our electoral system, as a result of the Conservative's so-called Fair Elections Act.
Those concerns include: whether the law will prevent large numbers of voters from actually casting their ballots; whether campaign finance rules will benefit some parties and not others; the process for complaints and appeals; and whether the law negatively affects turnout among aboriginals and other groups.
We know that the Harper Conservatives have cheated in all three elections, that have brought them to, and kept them in power, but this unfair bit of legislation, might be their biggest deceit yet.  Not only does it take away the voting rights for many Canadians, but Elections Canada cannot even promote the need to vote at all.

In other words, they cannot promote democratic elections, which is a huge part of their mandate.

Add the Conservative gerrymandering with all the new seats, and their ridiculous two and a half month election campaign, and Canadians are being boxed into a system, that could guarantee this American Conservative style government for decades.

Canada as we know it could completely disappear.

The UK Guardian recently published a piece:  The Guardian view on Canada’s elections: is the Stephen Harper Era Over?
Under Mr Harper, Canada has not only moved to the right in almost every area of policy but has entered an era of highly calibrated, money-driven negative campaigning at odds with the courtesy that is one of the most attractive of Canadian qualities. So the result matters, obviously for Canada for itself, but also for a world that has long been missing the special role it used to play on the international scene.
The world is watching us.  We can't screw this up.

Abandoning Democratic Principles is Not the Answer

As I've mentioned before, there are a growing number of excellent Anybody But Conservative groups, reminding Canadians why this destructive government has to go.  Recently our muzzled scientists have joined the movement, and I expect many more of those who have been disenfranchised by this government, will lend their voices.

It is so inspiring watching ordinary Canadians working together to restore our democratic traditions.

However, another grass-roots movement may be threatening the very democratic principles that this country was founded on.  Before I mention what that is, you need to hear me out, because I don't oppose the idea. Only the way it is being done.

Strategic Voting.

Not the concept, which is very democratic, but the fact that they are showing their hand way too soon.  I've seen riding charts already suggesting to their followers who to vote for or promote.

Good heavens.  We don't even have all the candidates in place yet!  How is it fair to write them off before they've even opened their mouths?  We need to give them all the respect they deserve as they launch their campaigns.

An excellent case in point is Rachel Notley, the new NDP premier of Alberta.

I tried to find where she was positioned, roughly 2 1/2 months before the May 2015 election, that gave her a majority government.  Mid February it was difficult to find her mentioned at all.

I did discover one poll from about that time, showing Jim Prentice's PCs in the lead with 46% and Rachel Notley's NDPs in fourth place with just 18%.  By April her name was making headlines, as the PCs continued to fall; 

Her victory was not a fluke.  She created those headlines as she criss-crossed the province, getting her message out.   Damn if her story isn't one of the most uplifting political stories of our time.

So why are we not allowing existing and future candidates the same courtesy?  Why do we not have enough faith in them to believe that they too could engineer an upset? 

To top it off, the strategists are using present polling figures to create their voting plans.  How absurd.  Using a recent Nanos poll as an example,  I've created a pie chart, inspired by a Facebook friend,  who wants to see one. (You know who you are).

While most polls suggest that the election is still a three way race, Nanos had the NDP at 31%, the Conservatives at 28%, the Liberals at 22% and others combined at 19%.

But Nanos also revealed that 60% of those called were still undecided or as he put it, "weighing their options". So this is how the voting intention pie chart looks.  The big yellow area is still up for grabs,

How in the heck are you going to plot voting intentions from that?  It's ludicrous.  Even if we put the NDP at their highest ranking of 39%, the pie would not look much different.  No one wants Stephen Harper gone more than I do, but I also want his replacement to reflect the wishes of the voting public.

We should first allow constituents of all the ridings, to hear what every candidate has to offer, and let them determine who is best to represent them.  We must also allow every leader to present their policies and platforms, to help those constituents weigh the benefits of all the parties.

Few are even discussing platforms, too caught up in who has the best or worst attack ads.  We can't just vote against, we also have to vote for something.

We've had a decade of the rich getting richer and the not so fortunate, being asked to move to the back of the bus.  More from the Guardian:
The political contest in Canada this time is particularly difficult to predict since the three big parties each have about 30% in popular support. Any of the three could end up in government, alone or in coalition. But we may be permitted to hope there is now a chance that something of the old Canada, committed to moderation and multiculturalism at home and to multilateralism and cooperation abroad, will re-emerge from the fray.
If the Brits are permitted to hope that "there is now a chance that something of the old Canada" returns, we need to share that hope. but it won't happen unless we are truly committed to restoring democracy.

Last election, I was part of a strategic voting movement, but it backfired.  We started too soon and Harper got a majority.  This election, I will join the strategic voting movement, if necessary, but not until October, when we have a better idea of true voting intentions.

Did we ever think that in our lifetime we would be saying NDP majority government in Alberta?

Forget the probabilities, because the possibilities are endless.

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