My riding is one of two in the midst of a byelection for the Ontario legislature. And I am Undecided.
I have decided against the Progressive Conservatives (I know, you’re all shocked) and the six fringe candidates that are running. That leaves three options: Liberals, NDP, and Greens.
Recently I’ve just been voting for whoever appears to have the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate, and in this riding, that’s normally Liberal.
But a byelection is not the same. For one thing, I do not have to fear the Conservatives in the same way, because even if they happen to win both seats up for grabs, they will still not form government.
For another, it’s not really so clear the Liberals are the next leading contenders. The NDP have a strong, well-known local candidate, and with voters not having to fear an NDP government resulting from her winning the seat, they might just vote for her. There’s no knowing for sure, but all indications are that this is a three-way race.
So, another strategy I sometimes take when struggling to decide is to just pick the best local candidate. In a byelection, this seems a particular sensible approach. Therefore, I watched the local debate, and came to the conclusion that… All the candidates I’m considering are quite good, really.
The Liberals Eric Davis and the NDP’s Catherine Fife both speak very well and knowledgeably. He’s a lawyer and she’s local schoolboard trustee, and they both already have the politician’s ability to seem like they’re answering a question when they haven’t, really. And it’s in this respect that the Green’s Stacey Danckert was quite refreshing, even though she was soft spoken and less assured. But she was also clearly very smart, informed, and sincere.
Plus, the Greens have some cool policies. Combine the Separate and public school boards? Yes, we can! (Wait, that’s someone else’s slogan.) Reduce income taxes and increase pollution taxes? Sounds good to me. Proportional representation? Bring it on.
But do the Greens have any shot at all in this thing? That is unlikely. Do I consider them anyway, for supporting the candidate and the policies? I’m undecided.
This byelection is also unusual in that actually could change the shape of the Legislature. If the Liberals happen to manage to win both byelection, they’d end up with a very slim majority. Do I want this? Majority governments—including this one—tend to be rather arrogant and undemocratic. But minority governments are all gamesmanship, with everyone threatening elections at every opportunity… All dreaming that majority they might win.
Basically, we have terrible political system, in which both majority and minority governments kind of suck. I can’t change that with my vote. (Ontarians could have changed that in a referendum a few years ago, but they didn’t. I may never forgive you for that, Ontarians. But I’m digressing.)
So… Not much point in voting strategically, no clear favorite amongst a set of good candidate, not really sure who I want to win the seat (except I’d prefer not Conservative or a fringe candidate).
Gosh, I may actually have to read the party platforms, or something.