For the last 75 days I have been put on the defensive. Facing an onslaught of "strategic voting" mania.
I have talked about how we actually favour cooperation, how we asked the Liberals and the NDP to cooperate before the election. Despite my efforts, this hasn't swayed strategic voters.
The narratives from the news media constantly reinforce the idea that only a winning party is a good place to put your vote, and the risk of Stephen Harper staying in office has citizens fearful enough to make any compromise necessary on their ballot. Fear is a powerful thing. It hinders reason and judgment.
I have always been determined to oust Harper - Greens want a new government and preferably a minority. We work toward this goal when we encourage every Canadian to vote, regardless of their voting intention. And when we raise issues for the sake of informing citizens instead of planting partisan wedges.
Most places I go, I hear a question about strategic voting. I talk about the need to engage Canadians who haven't voted before or those who gave up on voting. I think there is a connection between the widespread anger at Stephen Harper's politics and the huge increase in advance voting. I hope and believe that we will see more high voter turn-out on election day. One of the main reasons people think the Greens are political spoilers is the line from the mainstream media that we have no chance of winning anyway. This completely ignores the fact that individual MPs have influence in our system of government. I certainly showed the value of one Green MP in the last parliament, and that was when we had a Majority Harper government to contend with. The next parliament is likely to be a minority, and elected Green MPs will be the best-suited to seeking consensus and collaboration with other parties.
What I call "friendly fire" is when some of our strongest candidates are in winnable races where the Conservative is not in a position to win, and yet there are still calls to vote for one of the big two opposition parties. Leadnow, for instance, shows a preference for the NDP or for the Liberal candidate, depending on the riding (and not always with polling numbers to justify it). I can only assume our friends do not understand that a Green MP will vote with Liberals or NDPers on confidence motions, making them an equally effective anti-Harper MP. In fact, Greens are more effective in this respect since we prize cooperation above partisanship, so you can trust us to put Canada's interests above political gains.I was the first leader in this campaign to say that I would ask the Governor General to consider a coalition should the election result in a plurality of seats (without the majority) for the Conservatives. Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau say they would not prop up a Harper minority, but they knee-cap each other at every opportunity. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, their parties did not cooperate when they could have to replace Stephen Harper's administration.
This is a call to anyone who is advocating strategic voting. In general, in a democracy, it's good to vote for what you want. Specifically, where it is clear we have a Green candidate who can win, such as on the North Shore of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and Fredericton and Guelph (all ridings where Leadnow has been playing at moving the vote) consider whether the Green candidate really is a good bet. We still have time to turn the tide on fear and compromise. Be hopeful, see whether you wouldn't be proud to have a strong Green voice as your representative, then vote with your head and your heart, and get everyone you know to the polls!