Speculation has reached a fever pitch as it appears the writ is about to drop this Sunday or next, and Canada's 42nd Election is about to begin. We feel it will be a historic one. We've been canvassing for weeks already and in this time a few things are becoming apparent.
Firstly, we can win this riding. The number of Green voters that we've been able to identify in Vancouver East is truly exciting. There are folks who have never voted before because they just thought their vote "wouldn't matter" that their candidate wouldn't win. They've seen our posters, our flyers, or stories in the news and many of them feel re-energized about voting Green. But we've also heard some concerns. In many respects they're the same concerns that we share, myself as a candidate, the campaign team and growing group of volunteers. We wonder if you share them too?
In Vancouver East and here in BC one thing appears abundantly clear. We can't stomach the thought of another Harper Government, majority or minority, and we are searching for some kind of certainty that our vote can prevent this from happening. We want voters to be excited about the upcoming election, not scared, so we've prepared a few quick answers to the things we've heard coming up in conversations on door steps, in living rooms, kitchens, backyard BBQs and coffee shops.
Vote Splitting: I truly feel that Organizations like LeadNow and Dogwood genuinely care about getting Canada out of the Harper era and ensuring a return to progressive public policy making in Ottawa, but the narrative being put forward about strategic voting lays a blanket over the entire election and creates an unnecessary crisis for voters who can't always be expected to take the time to look deeper into the issue and don't live in a riding where vote-splitting appears to be an issue. This is in fact most ridings. While Elizabeth and others in the party emphasize that the Green Party doesn't split the progressive vote, that we create new voters, that we work to get voter turnout up, I'm more sympathetic to the vote-splitting issue. I don't disagree that we do work hard to get voter turnout up, in fact I wrote an opinion piece in the Vancouver Observer about the dangers of focusing on strategic voting to the detriment of not focusing on voter turnout. That being said I wouldn't have accepted my nomination in Vancouver East if I thought it meant a Conservative could win here because of it. And as we've seen from the Kelowna-Lake Country example cooperation is on the mind of other Green Party members and candidates. If we're going to cooperate though we need clarity about what that means and what it looks like, reciprocity being a key element missing from the K-town example. Elizabeth is working on this and is reaching out to Mulcair and Trudeau, but Kelowna-Lake Country isn't the ideal model or ideal process for electoral cooperation. Hopefully we'll see the party leaders, national councils and EDAs work together to develop that ideal model or process in the weeks ahead.
Luckily for us here vote-splitting is a non-issue in Vancouver East (and here's more info why). We really want folks who care about transitioning to a green economy, who care about Canada once again being a responsible partner in the international community on climate change and environmental justice, people who care about committing to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about eliminating poverty and creating a national housing strategy and other important things to vote Green with confidence here in East Van, and send a message (or a new MP) to Ottawa. A Conservative has never won here and is in no shape to win this time around, and as a new poll from EKOS about to be released demonstrates, support for the Green Party has now surpassed the Liberals here in BC. Voters here are recognizing that they have two progressive but distinct options and if there is a safe riding in Canada to vote Green Vancouver East is it.
"But I want the NDP to form government" - Hey I do too! And as a Green MP I would be excited to caucus with my NDP colleagues in a minority government or NDP-Green Coalition Government. I'm already friends, colleague or a neighbour of other NDP candidates here in BC that I'm truly excited to see running and have offered public encouragements to a number of times. Green MPs will give Mulcair the votes he needs to ensure Harper doesn't form government, but with the added benefit of being able to hold him and his NDP caucus accountable, to be their green conscience as we work with them to make sure they truly do provide Canadians the leadership we want when it comes to climate change, protection of water, air and vulnerable communities and transitioning to a renewable clean energy future.
Voting Green a "wasted vote" - Firstly voting for what you truly want and not just the lesser of two evils, or the person most likely to win, is never wasting your agency as a voter. Secondly, the more we get out and canvass the more apparent it is becoming that we actually can win this riding. We are identifying new voters and have attracted folks who have been active with Liberal and NDP campaigns to our own for various reasons, it's a coalition push for this campaign (just like it may well end up a coalition in Ottawa) and we have already raised more money than any Green campaign has spent in its entirety here as we are running to win. We have over 170 volunteers already and the writ hasn't dropped yet. We're serious about this, and we hope the other parties view that as a good thing. Voters deserve a good robust debate and dialogue going into this election, it shouldn't be viewed as a cakewalk for anyone. As we saw in Alberta, voters are tired of that kind of entitlement no matter what the party.
If you have any other concerns or thoughts please be in touch, as I've been saying to everyone I meet here in the riding I'm always up for coffee and it doesn't take long for me to get around by bike as I live smack dab right in the middle of Vancouver East. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org