Elizabeth May on the byelections and vote-splitting

by Aaron Wherry

Some of the Green party leader’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.

Remember, this was a byelection. So there was no—I think people get panicked about vote splitting. Whether it is another Conservative, whether all the three ridings had gone Conservative, it wouldn’t have changed the dynamic in the House of Commons one bit. So in a general election, you have a different set of concerns and I think the Liberals, the NDP, need to start talking to each other. I’ve said that for some time. The Green Party at our convention actually had the members pass a resolution calling for me and our federal council to seek cooperation with the other parties so that in the 2015 election, we—I don’t know what form or shape that would take, but at least have discussions with a goal of after the 2015 election, getting rid of first past the post. The only reason we have all these panics about vote splitting and strategic [voting] is because we have one of the most bizarre voting systems that remains in any modern industrialized democracy. We’ve got a situation where the minority of voters can elect the majority of seats and where people worry needlessly. In the case of Victoria, we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched a last-minute fear campaign to tell supporters that if they voted green the Conservative would come up in the middle. Well the Conservative was stuck at 12% and wasn’t going to budge and it was very clear.

So that vote spitting argument works on all sides. It can motivate people to vote, not for what they want, but against what they’re afraid of and in a set of byelections, we went into them thinking that this was an opportunity certainly to make sure that people could see the Green Party was viable in different kinds of ridings across the country and certainly you know, the fact … that parties that are larger than us, that were in what were presumed to be safe seats, when they won by over 50% just 18 months ago and I refer to both the Calgary Conservatives and the Victoria New Democratics, they eked out victories by very narrow margins and I think that’s a sign that really the politics of Canada is different. The Green Party is a force electorally across the country…

Again, I can’t stress it enough. Byelections do not put in place a government in power. So there’s much less to fear and the fact that people play on this, you know, you’ve got to vote for one party over the other because you’ve got to be afraid of a Conservative additional seat: that’s not going to change the dynamic in the House of Commons. In byelections, I felt much less pressure, but as I said, our party has a policy. Our membership has passed a resolution calling on us to seek cooperation. I did attempt to see, cooperation with one of the major parties before these byelections. I’m not going to go into details, but they weren’t interested.

So you know, we’re just in a position when in byelections, you want to do the best you can to ensure that a different voice is heard on the federal landscape and I think we did remarkably well and I’m very pleased that—you know, people wrote off Victoria as a place where, because Denise Savoie had last been elected there with over 50% of the vote, there was the assumption that it was such a safe NDP seat, that at least nationally, nobody really bothered to cover the fact that our momentum was huge. If the election campaign had been one week longer, we would have taken Victoria. In the meantime, Calgary Centre, I think that … who would have imagined before these byelections that you would even be asking me about a strong showing by the Green Party in Calgary Centre.




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Elizabeth May on the byelections and vote-splitting

  1. “It can motivate people to vote, not for what they want, but against what they’re afraid of …”
    This is what we’ve been doing in Canada ever since the resignation of Brian Mulroney, voting against what we don’t want rather than for what we do want.
    I’m not as optimistic as Elizabeth May that the parties are willing to do something about it, but I wish her luck in trying.

    • In spite of your pessimism, could you please HELP? The thing is, this isn’t going to work if it isn’t a participatory thing. And I’ve heard this at the door three times now. I’m not asking everybody to go door-to-door with me (although you COULD!) or hold events or stuff like that. Just help by becoming a supporter and voting in a Liberal Leader who will welcome Ms. May’s discussion, and/or joining the party of your choice and voting to cooperate at the local riding level. Not a lot of extra work, and it is our country we are talking about. I think she’s worth it.

  2. “we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched
    a last-minute fear campaign to tell supporters that if they voted green the
    Conservative would come up in the middle” – E.May

    The NDP used fear mongering as an election tactic? How come we didn’t hear about this on Wherry’s blog ? We certainly heard about those nasty Conservatvie tactics in Calgary and Victoria from Wherry…..

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/11/25/go-ahead-throw-your-vote-away/

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/11/23/a-little-bit-conservative/

    Funny how Wherry conveniently overlooks the nasty NDP tactics in Victoria….Good thing Wherry is not a partisan hack…..

    • If Wherry bothers you so much, why do you spend so much time here?

      • Wherry doesn’t bother me at all. I simply like to call out partisan BS when I see it. Granted it was a surprise to find that a national magazine like Macleans is funding it, (and apparently with a taxpayer subsidy I am told) however it is important in my view we not tolerate poor journalism that is unprofessional and politically biased.

        I may be old school but there was a time when both professional media and the public expected non partisanship from journalists. These days it is clear that more and more people are willing to turn a blind eye to partisan media hacks so long as it agrees with their own personal political views.

        If we are going to start accepting partisan second rate journalists like Wherry what next ? Partisan judges ? Partisan independent electoral officers? Partisan staff at Elections Canada ? It is a slippery slope and I submit that as a society we are not better off without partisan hacks trying to masquerade as
        non partisan in rolls that are intended to be non partisan.

        I know the resident lefties on here will fight me on this point but media needs to be non partisan or at the very least provide full disclosure that they present “alternative” “progressive” or whatever leftist term they wish to apply that provides open and transparent disclosure to the political interests they are furthering. If Ezra Levant can do that surely Aaron Wherry is capable of making the same admission.

        • “Wherry doesn’t bother me at all. I simply like to call out partisan BS when I see it.”

          Hey there, Don Quixote, if you’re so intent on righting the wrongs in Canadian political coverage, how much of this partisan-outing are you doing among Sun journalists and bloggers, where BS abounds in equal amounts?

          • I totally and completely agree with your comments about Sun media….but keep in mind Sun media and Sun media personalities like Ezra Levant have the integrity to disclose that they are polticall biased against the left. My
            point is that Wherry lacks the integrity to do the same.

            Funny that none of Wherry’s leftist supporters on his own blog deny Wherry’s blatant political bias but rather defend it. Which of course
            is fine I only look for open disclosure from Wherry to have the integrity to
            provide full disclosure on his daily partisan actions.

          • I could easily point out other political commentators in journalism who, IMO, are shilling for the neo-con cause without openly declaring their partisan bias. But I’ve (usually) got better things to do. Why don’t you?

          • I am retired. For someone who has better things to do, you seem to spend a fair bit of your time defending the partisan NDP shilling of Aaron Wherry. I simply believe that partisan hacks who are members of the Parliamentary press gallery should be called out on their partisanship. You are correct, there are many partisan hack journalists out there but far fewer who are members of the Parliamentary press gallery.

          • I, too, am retired. I guess this is what we “pensioners” do now, instead of genealogy.

          • Hey Bill,
            I thought we were going to discuss the Conservatives $20 billion carbon tax. Every time I mention it to you, you suddenly clam up. What gives?

          • Has Levant ever made such a explicit disclosure? I mean, you can listen to him for 30 seconds and determine his bent, and he’s got a reputation as a righty, but has he said (to use your vernacular about Wherry), “I’m a shill for the CPC?” or even remotely like that?

            Actually, the kind of explicit disclosure you’re expecting I don’t remember seeing from anybody, left or right, ever. And I do stand to be corrected.

          • Right in Ezra’s bio posted on the website for his show it clearly discloses that Ezra is a Conservative media personality….

            “Hailed as Canada’s no.1 defender of free speech,” best-selling author, lawyer, blogger and general trouble-maker, Calgary’s Ezra Levant is one of Canada’s best-known conservative pundits.”

            You may stand now.

          • I’m too floored to stand now.

          • I am already standing – with the pornographers, according to Minister Toews.

          • Wow – I don’t think I have ever seen the words integrity and Ezra Levant put in the same sentence.

        • “I may be old school but there was a time when both professional media and the public expected non partisanship from journalists.”

          You may be old school but you evidently don’t know much about the history of journalism in this country. Many of the major dailies have a long history (going back to the 19th c.) of rabid, fierce partisanship and are still identified today as having an orientation towards one political faction or another.

          You can rant all you like about political bias in print media but don’t re-write history to support your own world-view.

        • You are not old school. you are ill informed and watching too much Sun News by the sound of it.

    • Well, I live in Victoria, but not in that riding, and I didn’t hear about it. Must have been an in-riding campaign. The race here was considered a sure win for the NDP so there wasn’t much attention given to it.Most people I know were watching Calgary.

  3. Aaron does take some warranted shots at government double-speak
    and hypocrisy. And he uses words in a clever way to do just that.
    But the operative word is “government”. We’ll just have to wait until
    we have a different government (please ! ) to see if he extends such
    treatment to all government or just the current incompetent one.
    I don’t know his employment history but as far as I know he has only
    had his current platform while this government has been in power. So
    I have nothing to compare.

  4. May opines that “we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched a last-minute fear campaign”

    Now let’s see. How would Preston have put that – exactly?

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