Strategic voting groups surface as election wheels grind forward

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

The word 'coalition' has dominated much of the election campaign so far, but some opposed to a majority government led by Conservative leader Stephen Harper have proposed so-called 'strategic voting'.

To date, the most blatant example of strategic voting in the campaign came when Ryan Dolby, the NDP candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London in Ontario, dropped out of the race in the first week and threw his support behind the local Liberal candidate.

In a press release, Dolby stated he was stepping down so the NDP and Liberals would not split the vote in the riding and allow the Tory candidate to win.

There are also several strategic voting grassroots efforts, made popular in the 2008 election, that have resurfaced this time around.

Pair Vote and the Anti-Harper vote swap Facebook page, for example, are two affiliated sites that encourage vote swapping.

Their website describes vote swapping as follows:

"It allows voters in different ridings to swap votes to best ensure the Conservatives don't win. Almost anyone who is opposed to the Conservatives can take part. If your preferred party has no chance in your riding (or if they are absolutely certain of winning) you can use your vote elsewhere to help candidates from the same party beat the Tories, while at the same time voting strategically to stop the Tories in your own riding"

The group, which boasts about having signed up at least 6,000 vote swappers, claims to have influenced the outcome in two ridings in the 2008 election.

In a radio interview with AM1150 in Kelowna, B.C., Pair Vote's founder Gerry Kirk said strategic voting would not be necessary if Canada adopted some form of proportional representation.

(CP Photo)