I recently came across an online comment directed at federal Green Party candidate Frank de Jong, and now I find that I really have to get this off my chest. Based on the so-called “progressive” strategy of strategic voting, the commentator stated “Shame on the Greens, how vain and self-serving to split the vote further in such a tight three-way race.”
In the Yukon, many voters are torn between ideals of voting for what they believe in, and voting for a candidate who is not their first choice, based on a desire to prevent another candidate from winning. I believe that people who choose to vote strategically deserve respect for being politically engaged and for striving for a better Canada from their perspective.
In the same manner, however, people who choose to vote for principles that they believe in and for candidates who embody these principles deserve the same respect. The Green Party is not responsible for our dysfunctional electoral system of “first past the post” that has resulted in governments with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote being elected, and ever lower voter turnouts and general citizen disengagement. In fact, Greens as well as Liberals and NDP are running on a platform of electoral reform.
I don’t think it is right to shame the Greens because “vote-splitting” occurs. This is not a progressive attitude. There are Green voices that need to be heard and Green issues that need to be raised because if we don’t raise them, they will not be raised by others. Greens have been at the forefront on such issues as climate change, democratic reform, protection of human rights, environmental protection, and an economy based on a healthy environment for our grandchildren. Who would not want these voices heard and these issues raised?
As for the 2011 election, a four-way race saw Conservative Ryan Leef elected. Some people who are not happy with the outcome stated outright that “the Greens stole votes from the Liberals” and that “the Greens were responsible for the Harper Conservatives winning in this riding.”
This needs to be stated: there were many factors involved in the last election other than that of voters actually being comfortable voting for a party and a candidate in which they truly believed. John Streicker, running for the Greens, received 19 per cent of the vote. This number could have been higher, and in fact Mr. Streicker could have won if more voters had believed in voting for the principles and the candidate they believed in. One could say that the other parties “split the vote” – some chose to vote Conservative, some chose the NDP, and some chose Liberal!
So my suggestion is to leave shame out of this discussion. People should know that they are free to vote for the principles and for the candidate they believe in. Please check out each party’s platform well in advance, and please vote!
Gerald Haase Green Party of Canada,
Yukon campaign manager