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Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

BC election: we split the vote?!

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Everybody was stunned after the BC vote last week, needless to say.  We, the environmental community, were hoping for an NDP government (the NDP ran a solid environmental platform and candidates with great enviro creds) and to elect at least one Green.  We didn’t want the liberals, with their gas pipelines, Site-C dam, and run-of-river projects.

Result : We got Andrew Weaver, fantastic!  But as for the rest…

There were twelve ridings where the combined vote of the Greens and NDP was higher than the Liberals.  Had the Green votes gone to the NDP, we would have an NDP majority government.   So, did the Greens split the vote?

Sure they did.   

The Tyee’s Tom Barrett claims that this is a simplistic take (can you really assume that all Greenies, absent the Green Party, would be voting NDP?).  Green party leader Jane Sterk, other candidates like Stuart McKinnon, of course deny that this is the case: a Green vote is a Green vote, period.  Andrew Weaver, the candidate who created history by winning his riding, quipped: “We didn’t split the vote.  In Oak Bay Gordon head, we are the vote.”  

Weaver’s bang-on comment notwithstanding, the denials ring hollow.  During election night there was this feeling of deja-vu, like a replay of the last federal elections.  You’ll recall that the combined vote of Liberals, NDP, and Green, had there been a coalition, would have been more than enough to defeat the Neanderthal – I mean Destructive – I mean Conservative – Party.  

I voted Green, though I expected and wanted the NDP to win.  Indeed, the NDP’s Shane Simpson got re-elected.  So why did I vote Green, if I wanted Shane and the NDP to win?

Well, that’s because I am conflicted: I like both parties.  I particularly liked that the 2013 NDP platform was quite progressive on the environment.  But since I wasn’t sure how solid the environmental commitment of the NDP really is, I wanted to send a message, here in a NDP stronghold.  And I’m probably not the only one feeling the same way: over 2200 people, combined, voted Green in Hastings and Mount Pleasant.  Don’t take the environmental vote for granted, borrow from the Green Party platform, we wanted to say to our good old NDP.

At least that’s how I voted.  There are many reasons to choose a party, and I don’t deny that some greenies may never ever vote NDP.  But I believe they are a minority.

Across Boundary, the outcome was quite different:  the Green vote may well have contributed to the election of Liberal Richard Lee in Burnaby North; same in Fraserview, Port Moody, and so on.  I would imagine, all niceties aside, that there were a good number people who, like me, were convinced that the NDP was going to win, and voted Green as a message.  Maybe not – who knows, but I see it as a likely scenario.

A few days before the elections, I accessed the Compass Vote site on CBC.  I found that my preferences and values coincided nicely with the NDP’s.  And with the Greens.  No wonder: on the graph of economic and social values, both NDP and Green are on almost exactly the same spot, in the top left quadrant, indicating that their values – socially liberal, economically left – match also identically.  I couldn’t copy the graph in this post, but the site is still up: go and give it a try.

If that’s not splitting the vote – a choice between two parties with identical values – I don’t know what is.

So, what to do?  I certainly don’t know, and that decision paralysis has also prevented me from joining either party.  I keep waiting for electoral reform, and I am encouraged by the fact that federal NDP is serious about electoral reform, endorsing a mixed proportion system. (You can read about it and other environmental positions in this great interview of Thomas Mulcair in rabble.ca.)

In federal politics, both Nathan Cullen of the NDP and Joyce Murray of the Liberals promoted the idea of cooperation between the opposition parties in targeted ridings.  How about that, provincial NDP and Greens?  You’re even closer than your federal counterparts.

But let’s not mince words: the vote got split.  Let’s fix that.  Committed environmentalists and common-sense folks like David Eby, George Heyman, and Andrew Weaver got elected.  Surely, they can find a way to get along, before the province get all tied up in pipelines and coal ports.

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Written by enviropaul

May 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

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