Vote Now says campaign will change Canada’s electoral system, but critic says it’s just an ideological issue

The Vote Together campaign run by Leadnow, a nationwide anti-Harper organization, announced 16 non-Conservative candidates across the country in the hopes that voters will rally behind them in the upcoming election. However, a Calgary policy studies professor says the campaign’s plan is impractical.

The process, titled “Storm the Riding,” began early in 2015 when volunteers went door-to-door collecting signatures from voters saying they would support a progressive party over the Conservatives. The campaign specifically targeted Conservative swing ridings.

But Duane Bratt, chair of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University, said they are really just fighting an ideological war.

“They would be less concerned if it were a progressive party that was winning,” said Bratt, adding it has been rare in Canadian history for a party to form a majority government with more than 50 per cent of the vote. In the 2011 election, the Conservatives won a majority government with just 39 per cent the vote.

In Calgary, the Vote Together campaign recognized Liberals Kent Hehr for Calgary Centre and Matt Grant for Calgary Confederation. According to their website, 16 candidates for the first round of recommendations are composed of nine Liberals and seven NDP candidates. There will be two more rounds of recommendations before the election.

Leslie Cramer, a Vote Together organizer, says Canada’s electoral system is “broken” and that the campaign will be a chance to get voters in the riding to be a part of the process of making change in Ottawa.

Vote Together volunteers map out their route for door-to-door knocking in the Calgary Centre riding. Photo by Amy Tucker

“We could all go to the polls on voting day and vote for who we wanted but we still would see the same thing that’s happened time and again,” said Cramer. “The more people we have, the more likely we’ll be able to have an impact.”

Strategic voting organizations such as Vote Together say Canada’s unfair electoral system is to blame for majority governments that received less than half the country’s votes.

Bratt is also concerned strategic voting campaigns are simply choosing the candidate best suited to defeat the Conservatives, and not acknowledging the differences between the progressive parties.

He also criticized the campaign’s process saying the candidate may not be an accurate representation of all the vote pledgers.

“How do you get a hundred thousand voters together to decide on a candidate?” asked Bratt.

Vote Together has collected 87, 363 pledges across the country at press time. Whether their efforts will make a difference in the election will not be known until all ballots are in on election day on Oct. 19.

atucker@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this piece is Cameron Perrier, and can be contacted at cperrier@cjournal.ca