The Liberal party Leader has little to offer progressives, but the alternative is worse.
This is the first Canadian federal election for which I’m eligible to vote. Part of what always made me excited about coming from the U.S. to Canada – and now, about being a Canadian citizen – is the presence of a viable left-of-liberal party. I’ve been looking forward to voting for the NDP – a party that more closely represents my values – for a long time now. So here I am, finally eligible to vote … and I’m going to hold my nose and vote Liberal.
I live in Mississauga East-Cooksville, a riding that will be hotly contested in this election. Our Liberal MP is retiring for health reasons, and this is exactly the kind of riding the Conservatives hope to grab. Two adjacent ridings, Mississauga Erindale and Mississauga South, are both on the Globe and Mail‘s list of “50 ridings to watch .” Erindale flipped from Liberal to Conservative by a very slim margin in 2008; Mississauga South, although still Liberal, is seen by the Conservatives as ripe for picking.The demographic of Cooksville, smack in the middle of these two ridings, fits a similar profile.
There’s no viable NDP candidate in Mississauga. Fortunately, a few non-mainstream parties from the right side of the spectrum will siphon off potential Conservative votes. But, realistically, the choice is between a Liberal MP and a Conservative MP.
Check out The Mark’s full election coverage here.
Ignatieff supporters claim that the man has retracted his support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. I’ve read that piece, and it is hardly a refutation, although the mainstream media frames it that way. On my blog, I’ve written many times about the real coalition government: the Harper-Ignatieff partnership that has kept Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan dragging on. When it comes to war, Ignatieff is Harper’s twin.
There are some very decent MPs in the Liberal caucus but, as a whole, the party is a big tent with few principles. Not unlike U.S. Democrats, they campaign slightly left-of-centre and govern quite a bit right-of-centre.
But my negative feelings towards the Liberal Party of Canada are a snowflake compared to the avalanche of ill will I bear towards Stephen Harper’s Conservative party. Five years of Harper’s anti-democratic, deceptive, corrupt, fear-mongering tactics and anti-human legislation make the choice in my riding very clear.
A Liberal minority government would not reflect my socialist values, and would give me plenty to protest. But a Conservative majority government could potentially ruin Canada. Harper’s now-infamous boast – “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it” – feels closer to reality every day.
Voting in our society is not a revolutionary act. It’s not a time to seek moral purity or distil principle for its own sake. As an activist, I know there are myriad opportunities to get involved and to collectively create change. Voting is one small moment of activism – an essential one, but also a strategic one.
Strategic voting is often a chimera. If your riding is a shoo-in for the Conservatives, then why not vote NDP and help build the opposition voice in your community? Occasionally, though, strategic voting carries real weight. That’s why groups like Catch 22 Harper Conservatives and Leadnow are so vital right now.
Helping Stephen Harper win a majority government in order to lay claim to some false idea of personal integrity seems both foolish and selfish: foolish, because my leftist world view is much more expansive than mere partisanship; and selfish, because I have a responsibility to use my vote wisely. I will spend my vote on whatever party has the best chance of improving Canada or, to put it more negatively, of keeping the Canada that I love from disappearing altogether.
Where I live, that means voting Liberal.