Citizen Action Monitor

“Vote strategically to oust Harper” urges distinguished Canadian scholar

No 147 Posted by fw, April 5, 2011

Professor Henry Mintzberg

Imagine treating this election as a plebiscite: a vote for conserving Canada or else for a Conservative Canada. Those who support the latter know where to put their X. So those who support the former had better get their X’s together before May 2.” Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University.

The above passage is from an article, Conserving Canada or a Conservative Canada? which appeared in the March 31, 2011 edition of the Globe & Mail. Click on the title to read the full opinion piece.

What follows is a bulleted summary of Mintzberg’s main points and key arguments in support of ousting the Harper government on May 2, or at the very least, of denying him a majority:

  • Mintzberg cherishes Canada for what it is, not for what Harper wants it to be
  • Minority results in the last two elections indicate that most Canadians share this sentiment
  • Despite claims to the contrary, a swing to the far right could happen here. And if it does, recall the turmoil of the Iron Lady’s rule in Britain, and two terms of “W” in the U.S. Do we want that here?
  • Compare Harper’s past election promises with his actions that followed his election —
    • Promise to clean up politics followed by wave after wave of quite disgusting personal attack ads reminiscent of the Bush-Cheney-Rove era of gutter politics
    • COP-15 conference where Canada became the much despised pariah of the developing nations
    • Harper questions our personal choices about abortion but not about guns
    • BIG OIL is subsidized while he cuts spending on Kairos and other worthy social justice and humanitarian causes
    • Cuts funding to CBC at the same time that he attempts to import Fox News North
    • Repeatedly exhibits contempt for parliamentary procedures, thumbing his nose at our elected respresentatives
  • Mintzberg sees a pattern in Harper’s autocratic style that foretells more of the same, or worse, to come — which is possible if Harper wins a majority (or another minority)
  • “The man who should be bringing some dignity to all this [mud-slinging election politics] is the worst of them. ‘Coalition, coalition, coalition,’ he cries, like some name-calling kindergarten kid.”
  • Have Canadians not seen enough of the worst of the Tea Party machinations to the south to see what could be in store for us if we did swing to the far right?
  • In the past two elections about two-thirds of the electorate were left out in the cold.

“Have we not had more than enough of this?” challenges Mintzberg. And then he offers Canadians a way out Harper’s embarrassing excuse for a government:

How can they do that? By voting “strategically” – that is, concentrating their voting power riding by riding. On, say, April 18, they consult the polls in their own riding (if they exist, otherwise the results of the last election), and swing their votes to the Liberal, NDP, Green etc. who has been garnering the most support and is, therefore, most likely to pass the Conservative at the post.

Think of it: people power in Canada, putting country ahead of party, beliefs ahead of personalities. Our own little Tahrir Square, right across this vast land. We are at a turning point in this election, facing a choice between two fundamentally different views of this country. Will the majority decide?

Well, not exactly an original idea. In fact, I believe it was tried in the 2008 election. Hell, it’s worth another try. And there’s even a website to facilitate strategic voting: Catch-22, billed as a “A voter powered campaign to defeat the Harper Conservatives“, offering “100 reasons to stop Harper.

With so many reasons to throw the bum out, how can we go wrong?

One concern: declining turnout at the polls. Advantage Harper if there’s a low turnout at the polls. Here’s a table of voter turnout in the last six elections:

Date of election/
Population Number of
Electors on lists
ballots cast
Voter turnout
25 October 1993 27,296,859 19,906,796 13,863,135 69.6
2 June 1997 27,296,859 19,663,478 13,174,698 67.0
27 November 2000 28,846,761 21,243,473 12,997,185 61.2
28 June 2004 30,007,094 22,466,621 13,683,570 60.9
23 January 2006 30,007,094 23,054,615 14,908,703 64.7
14 October 2008 31,612,897 23,677,639 13,929,093 58.8

Incidentally, Canada’s highest turnout was in 1958 when 79.4% voted.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

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