Thoughts on Strategic Voting

As we approach the 2019 Federal election, you are sure to hear pundits and pollsters talk about strategic voting; the act of voting for a candidate for whom you might not normally vote in order to prevent a different candidate from winning that seat. Strategic voting was widely talked about during the 2015 federal election, which saw many dissatisfied voters looking for any way they could to oust incumbent Conservative MPs across the country. The topic is sure to heat up again this year, and that’s why I want to talk about my belief that strategic voting is a bad idea for the 2019 election. I believe that continuing to vote strategically, election after election, actively works against the interests of all Canadians.

The issues of our time are not problems that can be solved through incremental changes in policy; they require decisive and thorough action to solve. The negative impacts of climate change are not going to politely stop and wait for our climate policy to get up to speed, so why should our government behave as if we have time to take baby-steps towards progress on climate policy? It is time to build a movement that will bring about the necessary efforts to tackle issues like climate change. This means that when we vote, we need to support candidates who will make that happen. By voting strategically, we are instead choosing to compromise on our values, and this prevents us from building the movement that we need in order to save the things we care about.

I understand the motivation for voting strategically. We do it to protect ourselves from what we fear is the worst possible outcome. Our eyes often wander south of the border, but it is important to remind ourselves that when it comes to politics and government, Canada is not the United States. Our country does not have a two-party system, and despite some fears to the contrary, we don’t have to worry about having our rights completely stripped away after any given election. This means that by voting against what we fear rather than for the change we believe in, we are doing little more than maintaining the status quo.

And the status quo actually hurts some of us. The meaningful action that is needed in order to alleviate suffering and catastrophe cannot be accomplished when we choose to vote strategically over and over again. Poverty remains a serious issue across Canada. There are Indigenous communities that still lack clean drinking water and other critical resources needed in order to survive. And we still have yet to see meaningful action occur on electoral reform, even when it was promised that 2015 would be the last election conducted under the First Past the Post system. Slight shifts in our government’s position on the political spectrum don’t help our most vulnerable groups.

It’s time to set aside fear and compromise, and vote for the changes we want to see; the ones we truly believe in. We are all in this together, and we can elect representatives that will stand up for us and be the change we need, as long as we leave strategic voting at the door come October.