rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Is Harper's last day coming?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

There is a website selling buttons that celebrate, in advance of course, "Harper's Last Day"; which they claim will be coming October 19, 2015. The buttons are available in "ironic blue" or in the colours of the three mainstream progressive parties: the Greens, the Liberals and the NDP.

While to most on the left these buttons express a (no doubt) deeply desired outcome, they also embody the contradictions that face Canadian "progressives" in the upcoming election.

This for the simple reason that if you are wearing one of those that are orange, red or green you are espousing two political goals that are not necessarily at all compatible.

While I have written about this before, it is important enough, and persistent enough, that it needs to be returned to. This piece, I should also note, is absolutely not meant as either being an argument for or against the idea of "strategic voting" (though again, I have addressed that idea in the past).

Simply put, if your primary goal is to ensure that October 19, 2015 is, in fact, "Harper's Last Day" you cannot achieve this by being a blanket partisan of any of the mainstream parties. By "blanket" I mean a partisan who is calling for a vote for one of these parties in every single riding in the country.

For example, if you are a Liberal or New Democrat living in downtown Toronto's Trinity-Spadina you can wear your red or orange version with no contradiction of any kind. In Elizabeth May's riding you could sport the green one with confidence that it will, indeed, aid in the downfall of Harper.

But in many ridings one -- or in some cases two -- of these colours will not help to end the Harper regime for the simple reason that one or two of the political parties with which they are associated cannot win in these ridings.

The militants of the parties (especially in the cases of the Liberals and NDP) -- their MPs, candidates, partisans and employees, etc. -- will go to great lengths to either deny this or claim there are other considerations that override it. But it remains a fact.

When they do the latter it is framed as a matter of basic principle. This can be accepted or not. There are those that will assert that their specific brand of progressive is so different from any of the others that it is impossible for them to countenance a strategic vote. The most common of these assertions are when New Democrats claim the Liberals are basically "the same" as Tories or when Liberals portray New Democrats as somehow dangerous radicals.

Both of these narratives are, if taken literally, specious and more facile every year, but they contain elements of truths past and (somewhat less so) present to allow them to continue to resonate in some minds.

However when the party partisans do the former it is purely noxious, bourgeois, petty nonsense. No serious person can claim that if only everyone who was against Harper voted for their specific party then that party could win everywhere. This is a ludicrous assertion.

Regions, classes, professions and individuals have actual reasons -- historic and in the here-and-now -- for supporting the parties they do, right or wrong.

While surprising things can happen, as with the Orange Crush in 2011, it is clearly absurd to assert that a party -- any party -- can be competitive, let alone win, in every riding in Canada. Going into the election we all know there are some ridings that are simply not going to be "winnable" by some parties under virtually any circumstances. With a week or two to go to Election Day, depending on when the electorate's intentions begin to truly solidify, it will be very clear who the races are between in virtually all the ridings in the country.

Claiming that any riding can be won cannot be regarded as a real analysis and is, frankly, intellectually dishonest.

Ultimately, politically aware progressive voters have to make a decision. Is making Election Day 2015 "Harper's Last Day" legitimately what you are seeking or do you have a different set of partisan political goals?

There is no "correct" answer to this, but there is an incorrect one -- you cannot hold both objectives at a national level and in every riding at the same time.

There may be many reasons to oppose strategic voting calls of one type or another -- but ensuring the defeat of Stephen Harper is not one of them.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.