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Judy Rebick's Blog

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Judy Rebick is one of Canada's most celebrated and well-known feminist thinkers, critics and writers. She is the founder of rabble.ca.

A last-minute proposal: Think before you jump. This election is even more unpredictable than it seems.

| October 17, 2015
Image: Flickr/ivan dupont

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Yesterday I was shocked to see what I thought was an absurd endorsement from The Globe and Mail, vote for Conservatives but not Harper. Everyone had lots of fun with that but what if the Conservatives won a minority? It is generally agreed that neither the Liberals nor the NDP would prop them up but what if Harper offered to resign?

Even if Trudeau and Mulcair responded that the entire party is responsible for their record and why the majority of voters rejected them, the governor-general might be persuaded that a new leader should have the chance to test the confidence of the House. It could give the Conservatives a few months in power at the very least. That scenario has not been discussed, at least in public. Maybe the Globe knows something we don't know. I am still optimistic that the Conservatives won't win but less sure that if they win a minority, there is no way they can stay in power.

Today, I woke up to Le Devoir headline "Justin Trudeau s’impose partout," with a poll showing Trudeau ahead in Quebec for the first time not only in this campaign but for 20 years. The federal polls still show the Liberals, even at their maximum seat projection, short of majority territory but if Quebec moves en masse to the Liberals, as they are wont to do, that could change on a dime.

A Liberal majority would be better than a Harper majority -- of that I have no doubt -- but I wonder if all those running to strategic voting have really considered what a Liberal majority government might do without having to answer to pressure from the NDP. We oldsters remember when the Liberals ran on the left and then cut social programs, including EI and the Canada Assistance Plan setting the groundwork for the Tories to finish the job -- not to mention bringing in free trade and wage controls after campaigning against them.

I support the NDP.  I've already voted for the inspiring candidate in my riding, Jennifer Hollett. She is young, dynamic, smart, progressive and just the kind of person we need to represent us in Ottawa so I have no question about voting NDP even though I am less than inspired by their campaign. 

Unlike some of my fellow leftie critics I don't think the NDP is running a right-wing campaign. On most issues that matter to me, Indigenous rights, women's rights, childcare, civil rights, housing, trade, climate the NDP's policy is better than the Liberals. Bill C-51 alone is enough reason to vote NDP.

Tom Mulcair, while I didn't think he'd be a decent leader of the NDP, has been as good as many and has shown principle on C-51, the niqab and pulling troops out of the Middle East. Their balanced budget proposal was a tactical move to prevent the predictable media tax and spend attacks but they gave the Trudeau the opening he need to step left and appeal to NDPers demoralized by what looked like a right-turn from their party.

I've never been a fan of strategic voting. It breeds cynicism and it rarely works. With all the organization and money going into strategic voting this time, it might just work but I doubt even its strongest proponents were going for a majority Liberal government. No majority government will ever change the voting system as they benefit from first past the post. Almost everyone who is supporting strategic voting hopes this will be the last time they will have to.

So here is a last minute appeal to stop and think about it if you are voting strategically. If you genuinely support the Liberals, I can understand that. Trudeau has run an excellent campaign and if you believe him, he seems like a progressive leader.

But if you support the NDP and are thinking of voting Liberal for strategic reasons -- even where the NDP has a good chance like in downtown Toronto among other places -- I'd ask you to think again.

Some of our best governments have been minority governments. I'm reminded of the Liberal-NDP accord in Ontario in 1985, which brought us pay equity and an end to doctor's extra billing. There doesn't need to be a coalition, it can just be an accord or an agreement that the NDP will support the Liberals if they do a number of things, like for example, repeal C-51, take action on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, bring in proportional representation, a $15 minimum wage and a national childcare program. 

As to the possibility that the Conservatives form a minority, whether or not Harper resigns, we need the biggest demonstration ever organized in Ottawa to demand that the popular majority through an agreement or a coalition form a government to get the bastards out. I imagine everyone who supports the Liberals, the NDP or strategic voting will be able to join together to make that happen as quickly as possible after the election.

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Image: Flickr/ivan dupont



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