FPTP is a four-letter word but we can beat an obscene system

ELECTION FEATURE by Gregory Beatty

When this marathon campaign started on Aug. 2, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP were running neck and neck. Give or take a point or two shift here and there, that’s how they’ve remained.

There’s another player in this election though. It’s not an official party, so it’s not measured in the polls but it could still determine the outcome. It’s the “Anything But Conservative” crowd — people who are so dismayed at the state of Canada after a decade of Harper rule that they’re committed to voting strategically to defeat the Cons.

Harper has always been a tough sell for Canadians. His 2006 and 2008 “victories” were both minorities, and his 2011 triumph owed much to a feeling among Canadians that a logjam had arisen and the Conservatives were the best option to break it.

Even then, the election was tight. The Conservatives won 39.6 per cent of the vote, which gave them 166 seats — 11 more than the 155 needed for a majority in the 308 seat Parliament. The Jack Layton-led NDP finished second with 30.6 per cent of the vote and 103 seats. The Liberals were third (34 seats, 18.9 per cent of the vote), Bloc Quebecois fourth (four, 4.0) and Greens fifth (one, 3.9).

If you chart the parties on the political spectrum, the Conservatives are right-wing, while the others are centre or centre-left. In other words, even though the Cons won a majority of seats, a majority of the electorate (60.4 per cent) voted against them.

Barring a significant last-minute swing, the anti-Conservative majority will be even higher this time because most Canadians just hate the guy now. But because of Canada’s first-past-the-post system, that still might not be enough to defeat Harper.

Ideally, Canadians would have the freedom to vote their conscience and feel confident that their voices, along with those of their fellow Canadians, would be represented in Parliament. Switching to proportional representation, as most other democratic nations have done, including Germany, New Zealand, Iceland and Sweden, would help achieve that.

But for now we’re stuck with FPTP. And that means Canadians have a decision to make. Do they vote their conscience and possibly pave the way for another Harper victory (which might break Canada beyond repair)? Or do they compromise their beliefs, and vote for the candidate in their riding who has the best shot of defeating the Conservative one?

In seven Saskatchewan ridings, the Conservatives are a lock to win. Liberal Ralph Goodale has Regina-Wascana sewn up, too. But in six ridings [see sidebar], strategic voting could deliver an ABC knockout punch.

And remember, the Greens, NDP and Liberals are all committed to electoral reform. So whether we end up with a Liberal or NDP-led government, change should be on the horizon and we’ll never have to face this intolerable situation again.

The choice is ours.

As Easy As ABC

Want to Anyone-But-Conservative Harper the hell out of office Oct. 19? Good for you! You’re among the majority of Canadians who are too smart to be fooled by Stephen Harper’s un-Canadian ideology, fear-mongering propaganda and racist dog whistles. If you visit www.threehundredeight.com you can find up-to-date projections on all 338 federal ridings. Is the Internet too far away? No prob — here are the numbers in the closest Sask races as of Oct. 13. /Gregory Beatty

Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

Conservatives 43.0 | NDP 40.1 | Liberals 14.9 | Green 2.0


Conservatives 38.2 | NDP 34.9 | | Liberals 24.1 | Green 2.2


Conservatives 49.5 | NDP 34.6 | Liberals 13.6 | Green 2.4


Conservatives 40.7 | NDP 36.1 | | Liberals 21.2 | Green 2.0


Conservatives 35.8 | NDP 34.6 | | Liberals 26.6 | Green 2.4


NDP 39.9 | Conservatives 34.1 | Liberals 21.5 | Green 3.3

*All numbers express support by percentage.