By Frank Moher
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the Wicked Witch is dead, and may now return to his true calling running far right-wing lobbying organizations and sitting on the boards of oil companies. However, I voted strategically to ensure that happened, and, even though the local candidate I voted for won, I am left with little else than the end of the Harper Government™ to celebrate.
Mind you, I live in an unusual riding, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, on and around Vancouver Island. Here, the Green candidate was a contender. But a vote for the Greens, strategic-voting-logic went, was a vote for the Conservatives. The only safe bet was to vote NDP. Which I usually do anyway, so that sounded okay to me.
I had no enthusiasm for the candidate. I would rather have seen the Green, Paul Manly, in Parliament. In fact, he had the stronger NDP credentials; his father, Jim Manly, is a former Vancouver Island NDP MP, and Paul originally tried for the NDP candidacy. But he was denied it because his father had once sailed on a ship to Gaza and was arrested and Paul thought perhaps someone should speak up in his defence — like, say, his NDP MP. But that turned out to be too much for the aborning leadership of Thomas Mulcair, and so Manly the son could not be the candidate.
So I voted for the one who was.
However, as we saw last night, Mulcair’s centrist strategy has failed — spectacularly. And I am left having voted for a candidate for whom I have no enthusiasm in a Party that has no power.
In most other ridings, voting strategically would have meant voting for the Liberals, which I almost certainly would have done. And at least my guy would be the PM now. But to vote for the Liberals would also have been to vote for nothing much. Yes, the Liberals gave us multiculturalism, which has made Canada a much better and more interesting country, and which was under attack in this election, and so a vote for Trudeau was a vote for that. But otherwise the Liberals are now our federal government because they are the not-Conservatives.
I should have voted with my heart. Many of my friends, many of the people I most trust and admire, told me that, but I thought they were being sentimental. They were being sentimental — but they were also right. A lot of us who voted strategically in this riding thought we were being pragmatic and clear-eyed by not voting Green, even though we would have preferred to, but in the end it was the Liberals — rarely even contenders here — who rode Trudeau’s tailwinds to second place. The Conservatives came third; they were, as it turned out, never really a threat.
We thought we could read the portents, we thought an election could be predictable, and we were wrong. It’s called hubris. Meantime, my friends who voted Green at least woke up this morning having done what they wanted to do. That’s called hope.
Perhaps the Liberals will keep their promise to introduce proportional representation, so we don’t have to go through this dance again, though given how well the current system served them last night, that seems about as likely as their inviting Stephen Harper to their Christmas party. But I am done predicting the future. I’m not unhappy that Justin Trudeau is the PM, and I am unhappy the NDP is so reduced. I suppose I did my small part to help shore up their fortunes. But next time, I will vote with my heart. No more strategizing. Next time, I will vote for what I want, not against what I fear.