WEST KELOWNA - If all you really want out of this federal election is to unseat Stephen Harper — known around the country as ABC or Anybody But the Conservatives — none of the three parties to the left of the Conservative Party of Canada are going to make it easy for you to make a strategic vote.
Today was the last day to withdraw from the race, meaning none of the candidates in the Thompson or Okanagan ridings are going to bow out to help another party unseat a Conservative incumbent. While all three challenging parties claim they haven’t done any polling in the area, none are bowing out.
A recent all candidates forum in West Kelowna illustrates the issue for anti-Harperites: The Green Party, NDP and Liberal Party of Canada all gave nearly identical answers to a host of questions about the CBC, environmental legislation and First Nations issues leaving the Conservative candidate by himself.
The riding they’re all fighting for — Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola — is a new riding but the area it covers was awash in Tory blue in the last general election in 2011. Dan Albas won the bulk of the area in the old Okanagan-Coquihalla riding with 53.5 per cent of the vote.
The NDP came second in that riding with just shy of 25 per cent of votes. Brian McIver, campaign manager for the NDP’s Angelique Wood, says she is the de facto candidate for ABCers.
“If anyone is going to knock the Conservatives off, it’s going to be the NDP in this riding,” he says. “When (voters) want a change, they vote for change like they did in Alberta. We have a strong candidate, we came in second last time and we are going to win, we are campaigning to win.”
As you might gather, all challenging campaign teams gave similar team bulletin board material. What else would they say, given they remain in the race?
The Green Party is most often singled-out across Canada for a push to take one for the lefties. Candidate Robert Mellalieu admits he has studied it and will offer his graphs and spreadsheets that leads him to believe strategic voting is a farce.
He studied polls showing who voters would choose if they didn’t have their first choice and figures if he dropped out of the race, he could send as many votes to the Conservatives as anyone else. He admits that might break down for ABC if two candidates dropped out, but correctly assessed the likelihood of that happening.
“There is no evidence to back up vote splitting,” he says. “It’s fear mongering. And people think they have to pick the right one, the one that’s going to win. It’s so frustrating. I go to the door and people say 'I love Elizabeth May. I love what the Green Party stands for. I am voting NDP.' And I say 'what the heck?' Because people read about this and believe this stuff at first blush. The Green Party is all about evidence-based decision making and you need to sit down and analyze it, that’s what we do."
“That’s another thing is why is everyone pointing to us? Stop picking on us for splitting the vote. If you are really concerned about vote-splitting — don’t vote NDP and don’t vote Liberal.”
- This story was corrected at 9:49 a.m. to recognize it's 2015 and the Conservative Party of Canada is not the Progressive Conservatives. Thanks to reader Chris Hanzek.
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