3.29.2011

why i'm voting liberal even though i don't support michael ignatieff or the liberal party

This is the first Canadian federal election for which I'm eligible to vote. Part of what always made me excited about coming to Canada - and now, about being a Canadian citizen - is the presence of a viable left-of-liberal party. For a long time, I've been looking forward to voting for a party that more closely represents my values, the NDP. So here I am, finally eligible to vote... and I'm going to hold my nose and vote Liberal.

I live in a riding that will be hotly contested in this election: Mississauga East Cooksville. 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, while still Liberal, is seen by the Conservatives as ripe for picking. The demographic of Cooksville, smack in the middle, 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 squarely between a Liberal MP and a Conservative MP.

I intensely dislike Michael Ignatieff. Back in New York, I used to read his writing in the New York Times Magazine, so I know him to be a war-monger and an apologist for torture. 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 US 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 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 distill 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 worldview is much more expansive than mere partisanship. And selfish, because I have a responsbility to use my vote wisely. I will spend my vote on whatever currency has the best chance of improving Canada, or put more negatively, of keeping the Canada that I love from disappearing altogether.

Where I live, that means voting Liberal.



* * * *

Postscript. I'm receiving a small deluge of email about CBC's "vote compass," including some from CBC News itself. So yes, I am aware of it. It seems to be a dilute imitation of the excellent Political Compass, which I have blogged about over the years: mostly here, with graphic here. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems little more than a gimmick to drive traffic to the CBC website.

Update. Asked and answered. If you're about to defend Vote Compass, please read comments first. Thanks.

34 comments:

Cid said...

Welcome to the age old Canadian tradition of holding one's nose while voting. In our riding I am torn between voting Liberal or for Helena Guergis since anyone who was thrown out of Harper's cabinet must have done something right.

Kev said...

Sound reasoning from start to finish.
I share your dislike for Ignatieff, maybe more so since he actually is my MP even though he doesn't live in the riding and also is the second consecutive liberal parachuted into Etobicoke/Lakeshore bypassing the nomination process.

But as you stated defeating Harper is paramount at this time and overshadows all other issues. So I will keep a close eye on the race here and will vote Lib if necessary if not it will be Green as it has been for several elections now.

We all need to put aside our partisanship this time around and vote for whomever has the best shot at defeating Harper in each of our ridings. The future of our country literally hangs in the balance.

laura k said...

Ah yes, welcome to the age old Canadian tradition of holding one's nose while voting.

With respect, I'm from the United States. I know something about holding my nose while voting!

Helena Guergis appears to be desperate to get back into the Conservative caucus. She was kicked out for expediency, not because she's not conservative enough.

laura k said...

Kev, we are in complete agreement. But I must stress that I really have no partisanship. The party closest to my views is the NDP, but I'm critical of them, too. For me it's more important to support my own values, and how those values will translate into programs. Whichever party will take those on, works for me.

Kev said...

Partisanship was perhaps a poor choice of words as I too believe that one should never follow blindly.

I was once a supporter of the NDP and may be again someday, they are a good choice and while never having formed a government federally are nevertheless responsible for many of our cherished social programs especially public health care.

Sixth Estate said...

I have the privilege of living in a riding which will probably be a contest between Liberal and NDP, but I entirely sympathize. That's why I'm a fervent believer in getting rid of our decrepit first-past-the-post system and moving to a more representative system.

laura k said...

Kev, I didn't mean to nitpick your words, I am just always announcing I'm not partisan. :)

Sixth, I couldn't agree more. I decided to leave that part out of this post, but it's absolutely what we need.

James said...

Out here in Pickering-Scarborough East, our Liberal MP had a solid lead (49.7% of the vote to the Conservative 32.5%, NDP at 10.6%). It's probably safe to vote NDP here without worrying about handing things over to the Conservatives -- though the Lib % was down (3 points) and the Conservatives were up (almost 1 point) last time.

Our Green Party candidate this time 'round is apparently Kevin Smith. I should probably watch a couple of his movies. :)

impudent strumpet said...

I think part of the purpose of the CBC vote compass is to serve as a vote by issue quiz. It could be written more effectively, but so far it's the only one we've got. Although it's early going yet - my riding still doesn't have any candidates formally signed up according to the Elections Canada site, although my MP is in full campaign mode. (But despite the fact that I keep telling everyone it's early yet, I'm still impatient for the Hill Knowlton predictor to come back online)

laura k said...

Out here in Pickering-Scarborough East, our Liberal MP had a solid lead (49.7% of the vote to the Conservative 32.5%, NDP at 10.6%). It's probably safe to vote NDP here without worrying about handing things over to the Conservatives

Right - if I could do that, I'd do the same thing. It's why in New York State it was perfectly safe to vote for Ralph Nader or any other non-Democrat.

Of course, towards the end in the US, I didn't care, I couldn't vote Dem no matter what. But I'm sure I would do the same in your riding, as long as the Liberal candidate looked very safe.

Kev said...

No offense taken, it WAS a poor choice of words

laura k said...

I think part of the purpose of the CBC vote compass is to serve as a vote by issue quiz. It could be written more effectively, but so far it's the only one we've got.

You mean for people who don't know where parties stand on different issues?

If that's the case, it's useful - but doesn't explain why the progressive blogosphere is so into it. But whatever, it's good to know it serves some purpose other than driving up the price of advertising on cbc.ca.

laura k said...

I'm still puzzling over why a liberal or progressive person would vote for Helena Guergis.

impudent strumpet said...

Sort of. The intention is you tell it where YOU stand on various issues (theoretically without the influence of party spin) and then it tells you which parties you ended up closest to. Like this thing that we were playing with a while back.

They do sometimes get interesting results. A few elections ago, I posted a similar quiz on my blog, and one of my readers, a middle-aged USian man who votes republican (no, I have no idea why he's reading my blog) took it and was told he's closest to NDP.

Project Maddie said...

It isn't the CBC's Vote Compass, it's the University of Toronto's. They could hardly approach a corporate, partisan media outlet to partner with them so the CBC makes a lot of sense. It's getting a lot of slack for being too simplistic but I thought it was a neat tool and I found it interesting. As Imp Strump pointed out it's the only one we've got.

laura k said...

Oh yeah, that "blind" policy poll. That was very interesting. (And sometimes slightly scary - Allan lined up with the BNP on one point!)

OK, I take it back. :)

laura k said...

It isn't the CBC's Vote Compass, it's the University of Toronto's. They could hardly approach a corporate, partisan media outlet to partner with them so the CBC makes a lot of sense. It's getting a lot of slack for being too simplistic but I thought it was a neat tool and I found it interesting. As Imp Strump pointed out it's the only one we've got.

Since it's on the CBC website and I first saw it in an email from the CBC, it's not too unreasonable to think it's a CBC tool.

Re "it's the only one we've got," that doesn't really matter if you think a tool is silly and useless. But I understand people are finding it interesting and useful, so... *shrug*

Dharma Seeker said...

Laura and Imp Strump I think you're both right. I does tell you where different parties stand on various issues - for example I had no idea until I took the quiz how similar Green and Conservative economic policies are so I had no idea the Green party is such a poor fit for me.

Dharma Seeker said...

Since it's on the CBC website and I first saw it in an email from the CBC, it's not too unreasonable to think it's a CBC tool.

I get that. It wasn't until I took the quiz and was asked if University of Toronto's Vote Compass team can contact me that I found out.

laura k said...

Always nice to hear someone say that about the Greens! They are not a party of the left by a long shot - they are conservative.

They have some good policies and I understand everyone is taken with Elizabeth May. But many people mistakenly believe that if you're tired of the NDP drifting to the centre, the Green is the next best thing. Not so.

laura k said...

It wasn't until I took the quiz and was asked if University of Toronto's Vote Compass team can contact me that I found out.

Once you said it, I went back and looked and only then noticed the UofT logo. I clicked on "credits" and saw who created it, and CBC's relationship to it.

Dharma Seeker said...

Not sure if anyone has submitted this link yet - sorry if it's a duplication :)

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/rabble-staff/2011/03/cbcs-vote-compass-miscalibrated-have-you-noticed-babblers-have

impudent strumpet said...

Weirdly, this incarnation of the quiz had Green just to the left of NDP economically, even though they've definitely been to the right in every election I've ever voted in. I haven't had a chance to go over the actual platforms yet so I can't confirm if this reflects reality. (It also might be because I opted out of some of the questions. The compass doesn't take into consideration the parties' positions on questions you opt out of)

laura k said...

D/S, I saw that link earlier, too - thanks for posting.

I/S, that is interesting - worth looking into.

David Cho said...

I know you intensely dislike the US Democratic Party. Is there a liberal party anywhere in the world you like and should serve as a good working model in today's world?

laura k said...

Is there a liberal party anywhere in the world you like and should serve as a good working model in today's world?

That's a great question, but I'm not informed enough on world politics to answer it.

Also, I'm not a liberal. I'm left of liberal. My party of choice here is called the New Democratic Party (NDP). They are left of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I fervently hope and wish the NDP would return to their roots as socialists, and not continue to move towards the centre.

In most systems, the left-of-liberal party is going to be my party. However, which of those work and which don't... that, I don't know.

Some Person said...

-8.5 economic, -8.3 social, proud member of the lefty lunatic fringe. =)

sea_fan40 said...

In response to the infamous Harper comment "You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it." In fact, Mr. Harper said in 2004, "We can create a country built on solid Conservative values, not on expensive Liberal promises, a country the Liberals wouldn't even recognize, the kind of country I want to lead."

Vote Liberal if you choose but make sure you have independent facts and not propaganda from either side.

allan said...

sea_fan40, you ignorant slut.

Over a five-day period last month, Harper announced spending programs of $1 billion dollars.

Last summer, Harper spent nearly $2 billion of taxpayer money for the G8/20, which lasted all of *3 days*. That price tag -- which you and I are expected to help pay off -- included $2 million for a "fake lake" (did Harper forget Canada has many actual lakes he could show off to foreign dignitaries?), as well as:

$14,000 on glow sticks

$85,000 for snacks at the Park Hyatt hotel

$334,000 for "personal outdoor kits" that included sun screen, insect repellent and hand sanitizer

$60,000 for binoculars

Not to mention the millions of dollars that likely will be paid out in the numerous court cases of the dozens of people who were shot and assaulted, including sexually, by Toronto police.

In 2006-07, Canada's government had surplus of over $13 billion. Then Harper became Prime Minister.

In two years, that surplus was gone (poof!) and Canada had a deficit of almost $6 billion.

One year later, 2009, that deficit was $55.6 billion (Flaherty actually tried to claim there would be a $2.3-billion surplus).

Experts predict that by 2014, the deficit will be $158 billion.

In 2008, days before the federal election, Harper gave the banks a $75,000,000,000 bailout. The media did not notice.

For reasons that have never been made clear, Harper wants to buy nearly six dozen fighter jets. He claims each plane will cost "only" $75 million. However, Winslow Wheeler, who has worked for three decades on security issues for the U.S. General Accounting Office, laughs at that, saying, "Nobody on this earth is going to be buying F-35s in flyable condition at $75 million a copy."

It turns out that Harper's $75,000,000 per plane does not include important things like *a fuckin engine* or avionics to get the planes actually flying in the air.

Wheeler believes each plane will cost about $200 million each. Harper wants to get 65 jets, so that's $13 billion.

In January 2011, Harper announced he would spend more than $2 billion over the next five years on prisons -- even though the crime rate in Canada has been decreasing. Many experts expect that $2 billion price to end up being much, much higher.

The Financial Post, March 25, 2011: "This week's budget, in which $2 billion in loose cash was promptly distributed to a score of special interests and political agendas, left in place a $40 billion deficit for 2010 and solidified a $100 billion increase in the national debt over five years. The government’s spending record — an increase of 40% in program spending over five years to $245 billion — is evidence enough. At the federal level alone, that spending now sits at more than $7,000 for every person in Canada, plus another $900 a year to pay interest in the federal debt."

The National Post reports that Harper has expended many areas of government -- in direct contradiction to his public statements.

Yeah, that Harper is a real fiscal conservative.

Ooooh, the liberals are gonna spend yer money! Boooo!

sea_fan40 said...

oooookkkkkk so was I wrong in correcting the quote? I mean was my correction incorrect in some way?

Allan I understand your views and some of your points have merit, but does name calling actually make you right?

I disagree with some of your assumptions, the other parties have some responsibility for a few of the things you mentioned given it was a minority government. But the main reason I will not vote Liberal is Cap and Trade. Sell that one to families and people on a fixed income. It's hidden taxation no matter how you word it

allan said...

I did not dispute the quote, as you know. I prefer to go by what a politician does rather than what he says.

I took exception to you combining Harper's quote about "expensive Liberal promises" and making sure we have "independent facts". It sounds like you are defending Harper's statement that what HE has in mind would not be "expensive promises". I showed you that Harper is a huge tax-and-spend conservative.

(The slut line is from Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s. Perhaps you are unaware of it.)

laura k said...

SeaFan, I have no respect for the Harper Conservatives and no respect for anyone who - knowing what we do now - would vote for them.

The Liberals are not my choice, but as you can read here, they are my duty.

If there was a party to the left of the NDP, I'd support them.

I suppose you're searching for people misquoting the infamous "when I get through with it" quote and pasting in a canned response. I don't really give a shit about the context of that quote. Stephen Harper is ruining everything I love about Canada, and I'm doing whatever I can to stop him.

laura k said...

Also, go to YouTube, look up SNL, "you ignorant slut". It's a oft-quoted joke line used at the beginning of a debate. We really don't care about your sexual activity.

Just Me4 said...

Seafan is correct, bloggers often repeat the 2006 Liberal attack ad as if were true - it isn't. Posters and bloggers who repeat Liberal attack ads verbatim should get their fact straight.