Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to vote, how to vote ...

This will be my last post on the election until it actually happens ... barring a freak of nature. I will be working as a Deputy Returning Officer (i.e. I will supervise a poll and count the ballots at night's end); and according to Elections Canada, when I inquired, their head office told me that blogging that leans towards or against one party or another could be construed as partisan activity. I've been both a DRO and a Poll Clerk on several occasions since 1993, so I found this new rule to be surprising. Since the advance polls start tomorrow, I therefore have to be totally neutral from that date. So I can get it in by the drop date, I have the following thoughts.

This started out as the most competitive race in ages ... certainly, in my lifetime. For the first time we have had three candidates with equally compelling visions for Canada, with roughly equal chances of winning. Since then, much to my surprise, the NDP has faded somewhat, and the Liberals and Conservatives are neck and neck. I can't see how either party can make it to the magic number of 170 in the next ten days. Then again, very few pundits predicted David Cameron would win a majority back in May - one of the few who got it right was John McLaughlin.

This means that more than likely, we'll see some kind of alliance with the Liberals, NDP and the Green Party. (The BQ probably won't be needed.) I doubt there will be a coalition, but there may be some kind of agreement that common policies will be adopted as well as some planks unique to each party. The leading party in the group would then get support for "supply" (i.e. appropriations) for a set period of time. This would be like the Liberal - NDP accord in Ontario in 1985, although I prefer to call such an agreement a non-aggression pact or a cabal. Calling it that may be harsh, I know; but after twenty years of nastiness in Parliament, some kind of civility would be more than welcome.

So whom am I supporting? I'm not going to tell you that. (LOL) Actually, I already voted by mail. I certainly did not vote for the Cons (but I will of course treat their scrutineers fairly on the 19th). I would have voted for the Green Party - however, the ruling party got rid of direct party subsidies some time ago. I believe that viable parties should get public financing, and a large percentage vote for Elizabeth May, say 10%, would have under the old rules provided some much needed seed money and made the Greens a real contender. It's unfortunate, because in Europe the Greens can be coalition makers or breakers - in fact, they actually are in charge of at least one state in Germany.

Frankly, I find both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau distasteful as leaders. Both are trying to be pragmatic which is necessary in Canada, but each have policy planks I have trouble with. There are too many to be detailed here. If there was a Muldeau or a Trucair, that might have been different. Suffice it to say, either would be real bland as Prime Minister. But maybe that's what we need.

So what about the local candidates? Depends where you are.

I'm in Hamilton East - Stoney Creek, as a result of a boundary change this year. The incumbent, Wayne Marston, is with the NDP and a very competent MP. I think he has it in the bag. One poll tracker has him at 75% odds, but at the beginning he was at nearly 90%. Some movement there ... and keep in mind that Lower Stoney Creek tends to skew towards the other two parties, largely because of its middle class caché. (Upper SC is in the new Flamborough - Glanbrook district, which doesn't make sense, the urbanized part of it, west of Centennial Pkwy, fits in more naturally with Hamilton Mountain.) The other part of the district is much more lower class and they cling to the NDP quite consistently. But both halves have large immigrant populations. Loyalties do depend on which party gave you your landing papers or citizenship, but that may be changing as younger voters flex their options more openly.

The Conservative - I don't even know who Diane Bubanko is, but she's running in second place, much to my surprise.

The Liberal? Bob Bratina, who was a radio DJ for 40 years, including a very long running morning talk show.  (He was known as one of the "mayors of the morning", along with the long retired but still active Paul Hanover.) He also served on city council before a very embattled single term as Mayor of this city ... a consolidated city-county that hasn't quite been that successful since the merger in 2000. He stands tall - quite literally, I met him in the receiving line at City Hall after the death of Lincoln Alexander, and he must be at least 6'4". But I think people still have a bitter taste for how he managed the city, which explains why he's running in third place. I wouldn't count him out, though ... a solid GOTV could make this a surprise.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Nice choice. But with FPTP, I had to make a choice. I did, and I'm comfortable with it. But I'd still prefer MMR, where you choose a party (for PR allocation) AND a local candidate. That's the system they use in Germany, Wales and Northern Ireland, among other places.That way, I could split my vote, and heavens knows there have been elections when I have wanted to do exactly that. To choose someone for PM, but also choose someone from a different party as my representative would be nice.

All I can say is, as a DRO, make sure you do vote. Like CBS alumnus Bob Schieffer likes to say, "Go vote ... it will make you feel big and strong.” It's your tax dollars, you should have a say in who gets to spend that money.

P.S. There are still jobs to be had on election day, if you have time to spare. DROs, poll clerks, information officers ... just go to, type in your postal code and you'll find the number for your district's office. The drawback is you'll have to vote in advance, but they'll take care of that as well. Trust me, it's fun, and you'll get to meet a lot of people ... often times, those in your own neighbourhood! (And you'll get money in your pocket for a day's work, starting at thirteen bucks per hour, depending on the position.)

P.S.S. In case you were wondering, I filled in an application online, but also asked the winning candidate from the last election - Mr Marston - to nominate me as a DRO (since the party that finished first in a district gets right of first refusal for DROs, unless the positions for all polls are not filled in by a certain date; in which case the returning officer decides, while the second place party gets that right for poll clerks). Which path I was chosen from, I won't know until my training this week, probably I don't need to know ... but I'm still glad to do what I consider a civic duty.

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