Monthly Archives: September 2011

A word about Strategic voting, or “progressives” don’t let progressives vote Liberal

Progressives, by which I mean those concerned with issues of a thriving democracy, the environment, and social and economic justice, are once again not being well served in the coming election. Indeed, the middle of political discourse has shifted so far to the right that Rob Ford appears “reasonable” rather than bat shit crazy.

Owing to an outdated and profoundly flawed electoral system, “strategic voting” has reared its ugly head once more. Considering that one of the few strengths of First Past The Post (FPTP) system (i.e. electing a local candidate) is already continually undermined by voters who scarcely consider the merits of their local candidates in their choices, “strategic voting” only contributes further to the dysfunction in our electoral system. Thus, all progressives should at the very least demand electoral and democratic reform from our political parties.

Ah yes, “strategic voting” the last bastion of desperate Liberals. Strategic voting is a Liberal ploy to steal progressive votes. Don’t let them frighten you into abandoning democracy. I found it very interesting that as the NDP overtook the Liberals in the polls in the last federal election, Liberals went silent on their pleas for strategic voting. Not one Liberal suggested sacrificing a Liberal vote to help an NDP candidate win over a Conservative one. It’s fine to ask Dippers to sacrifice their votes, but not to ask it of those who see themselves as having a natural right to govern. It should be noted that Harper’s majority came precisely on the backs of Liberals in Ontario who rather than opting for the greener pastures of the NDP ran into the waiting arms of Stephen Harper.

Strategic voting is stupid and worse not at all strategic. Don’t take it from this hack, read it from one of Canada’s most knowledgeable and respected political pundits: Alice Funke from a Pundit’s Guide to Canadian Federal Elections. The following piece is essential reading on the topic of strategic voting:  Ask yourselves why aren’t Conservatives enraged when they see strategic voting websites and such ganging up on them? Conservatives benefit from strategic voting, usually because strategic voting is deployed unstrategically.

Here’s Alice’s wonderful summary:

“A vote “against” someone or something is a vote in favour of nothing. It gives no mandate to elected officials, creates all the wrong incentives for the politicians who are elected that way, and guarantees that Parliament will descend even further into the partisan barking we see there now. Indeed the perverse problems with the methodology itself have led respected website Democratic Space author Greg Morrow to stop publishing his “strategic voting guide” from previous elections.

In this election, read the platforms, watch the debates, take a measure of the leaders and the candidates, and vote your heart. If everyone did that, who knows what we might come up with together.”

A vote for the ONDP is a vote for “progressive” government, or McGuinty is not “progressive” (updated)

The Ontario Liberals are so desperate. They are running one of the most disingenuous smear filled campaigns I’ve ever seen from Liberals.

First they’ve tried to dissuade progressive voters by suggesting that  the ONDP and the PCPO are the same. Thus, don’t vote for the ONDP. I mean after all the ONDP and the PCPO both voted against the OLP over 180 times. What the OLP fails to mention is that opposition parties are there to hold the government to account and to oppose bad legislation. That two ideologically opposed parties vote so often against OLP legislation for completely opposite reasons is, if anything, an indictment of how horribly bad the OLP is at implementing policy

Today I read this piece of drivel.  Basically, it argues that the OLP is the same as the ONDP, thus don’t vote for the ONDP.Two points. Adding this to the previous contention that ONDP and the PCPO are the same, the necessary conclusion is that all parties are the same, thus vote for none of them. Greens might be happy with that. Second, this is a vain attempt to capitalize on one of the revelations of the May election. Only two parties are really different from each other and in May the LPC was seen as too close to the CPC to be worth fighting for. And it’s still that way.

The OLP has an integral ideological affinity with the PCPO. The parties share a history, share ideological commitment to economic liberalism. They share a commitment to trickle down neoliberal economics where greed and big business are rewarded. The ONDP owes its existence to an ideologies whose point of departure is a critical relation to the other two parties.

Next, I’m sure the OLP  will be shouting that ONDP are closet communists, don’t vote for them.

How about recommending voting for something rather than against something? A vote against something is a vote for nothing, and worse it rewards the negative campaigns, the smears, and the attacks of the OLP and the PCPO

To answer your question why vote for the ONDP. It’s a vote for the ONDP is a vote FOR real progressive practical government and a different way of doing politics. I’m tired of cynical, disingenuous negative politics where you win by getting voters to vote against.

McGuinty was elected with huge majorities and unfettered power to reverse the regressive policies of Harris/Eves. Sadly, in many ways Ontarians are worse off than under Harris.

McGuinty has co-opted (i.e. bought off ) some of the labour movement but has also continued the neoliberal tactic of weakening unions by not bringing in anti-scab and card certification legislation and by undermining the basic right to collectively bargain by legislating workers back to work.

Vulnerable citizens not only lost dietary supplement under McGuinty, but also in relative terms it sucks more to be poor under McGuinty than under Harris. Poverty is worse under McGuinty, worst of all, child poverty is worse under McGuinty.

Students, especially postsecondary students, are way worse off under McGuinty. Tuition is much higher and debt burdens much higher.

One major problem is that McGuinty is a kind of autocrat, like Harper,  holding  very firm control over messaging and issues, which makes them successful politicians but also leaders who don’t listen to their caucus. Where was the progressive Liberal MPP voice at the table when McGuinty barged ahead with a plan to run over 400 dirty diesel trains through Toronto neighbourhoods? Nowhere and if it spoke up it was completely ignored by McGuinty.

Most crucially for me. Human Rights and civil liberties have suffered greatly under McGuinty. McGuinty’s expansion of police powers during the G20 summit was the worst civil rights abuse in Canada in my lifetime. Moreover, McGuinty refused to include gender identity in the Human Rights Code- a simple gesture that would have meant so much to our trans community. Where was the “progressive” Liberal MPP  during these egregious moments of the McGuinty government?

Electing Liberal MPP’s does not help advance the progressive agenda and strategic voting makes it worse.

Funny Tweet of the Day

 

Trying to understand outrage at ONDP’s 1% HST reduction in gasoline

This portion of the ONDP platform has probably received the most discussion, usually vacuous outrage, especially by self-styled environmentalists. So, I’ve been trying to figure out what is so egregious about the proposal to claw back 1% of HST from the oil companies who at last check were doing quite well and offer relief to the consumer that has been hit with a regressive tax designed pay for corporate giveaways by placing the burden on middle and working class consumers.

First thing I noticed was that the initiative is part of the ONDP’s making life more affordable platform. From ONDP “Plan for affordable change”:

Experts tell us that the real problem in Ontario’s economy isn’t corporate debt, or even government debt – it’shousehold debt. If we want Ontario to succeed we need Ontario’s people to do well.

Next, I reflected on how this might alter  consumptive behaviour. I assume the reason environmentalists are outraged has to do with the fear that this will increase our consumption and dependency on fossil fuels.

First, given that public transit and a bicycle infrastructure is not close to what it should be, that living in Toronto is more and more unaffordable, many ordinary and working poor folks will need, at least in the foreseeable term, to drive to work to survive. For these folk, the HST is disproportionately unfair.

Second, and to me this is central, unlike many other goods and services gasoline is an essential item that people will buy regardless of cost BUT I believe consumption also remains at a constant rate regardless of cost. I have never noticed my driving habits to change as price of gasoline fluctuates. I drive where I need to go and I fill up when I need to.

Thus I don’t see how consumer consumption will increase substantially by offering an 8 cent or so reduction in prices. Unfortunately, those who need to drive to work will continue to pay, even when they’re gouged, to get to work.

Ideally, we would have excellent affordable  green public transit systems, safe and extensive bicycle infrastructures, promotion and education about green alternatives for moving people, but until then, and I am reminded the OLP wants to run 400 diesel trains through Toronto neighbourhoods, countless ordinary and poor folk will rely on gasoline to get to work.

Am I way off? Any thoughts for or against?

Perhaps in a future post we could look at the ONDP Green Choices platform…