The Green candidate in the Calgary Centre byelection finds lessons in the result.
Once party nominations have occurred and staff has been assigned, strategies and platforms established, signs and literature produced, it’s not just logistically difficult but fundamentally undemocratic to insist on co-operation. This is for the simple reason that every vote counts and every voter remains entitled to a free choice on the ballot. Once the race is on, there’s no putting the horses back into the barn.
What’s more, the presumption that a strong third horse in the race splits the vote is often ignorant of the facts at street level on the campaign trail. This was certainly the case in Calgary Centre, where my campaign saw a huge gain in momentum throughout the latter half of the campaign – not by eroding Liberal backing (which remained steady at around 30 per cent throughout the campaign), but by capturing substantial wedges of support from disaffected Conservatives, NDP voters looking for a better chance at backing a winner, and unaligned voters. My campaign did not split the vote in Calgary; we built our own coalition on the Green Party’s broad, moderate platform.