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Time to Vote

The election is 10 days away. Advance voting starts today. You know what you need to do. Get out and vote.

After much deliberation, I’ll be voting NDP. I considered voting Green to really reinforce the idea that climate change is the most important issue facing Canada right now. Both the Greens and NDP have great platforms and are aligned on a lot of issues.

The biggest difference is the leader. I’ve been really impressed with Jagmeet Singh. He puts up with a lot of racist crap, but he’s still filled with optimism. I haven’t seen a federal leader with so much personality, conviction, and compassion since Jack Layton. Elizabeth May is a great environmental champion, but I don’t see her having the energy and charisma to bring people onside to tackle the problems we’re facing. Jagmeet Singh can.

Jagmeet and Me
And I got a Singh selfie before he became super popular

Looking beyond the party leaders, I’ve also considered policy and my local candidate. On the policy side, CBC, Macleans, and Gen Squeeze have good summaries of the party platforms. Personally, my top 3 priorities are climate change, housing affordability, and health care.

Climate Change and the Environment

The Greens have the most ambitious plan, the Liberals the most achievable. The NDP is in between on both measures. All three parties have commited to banning single use plastics. Check out CBC for a comprehensive comparison of each parties climate commitments.

Liberal Party
😇 Introduced a federal price on carbon
😡 Bought a pipeline for $4.5 billion
🌲 Plan to plant 2 billion trees

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😀 Expanding the carbon tax to industrial emitters
😍 Ending fossil fuel subsidies
😁 $15 billion for retrofitting buildings

Green Party
😍 Most ambitious carbon targets (60% reduction by 2030)
😁 Halt all new fossil fuel development projects
🌲 Plan to plant 10 billion trees

Conservative Party
🤢 Plan to scrap the carbon tax

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
🤮Think climate change is a hoax

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability is a hot topic, especially with millennials in Vancouver and Toronto. The federal government has a role to play in building affordable housing and purpose built rental, and ensuring speculation from foreign wealth isn’t distorting our housing markets.

Liberal Party
🙂 1% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 100,000 affordable housing units
😒 Useless First-time Home Buyer Incentive (at least in Vancouver)

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😄 15% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 500,000 affordable housing units
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Green Party
😐 25,000 affordable housing units
😀 Tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing
🤔 Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant

Conservative Party
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Health Care

Last election, health care wasn’t that important to me. But now I have an adventurous, asthmatic child and work for a health software company.

Liberal Party
😴 Will continue to study pharmacare

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😍 Universal pharmacare
😀 Basic dental for families earning < $90,000 (first step toward universal dentalcare)

Green Party
😍 Universal pharmacare
🙂 Dental care for families earning < $30,000

Conservative Party
🤥 Promises not to cut any health spending

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
😲 Give provinces full responsibility for health care
🤪 Cut all federal funding

Local Candidates

In my riding of Vancouver Centre, the NDP candidate Breen Ouellette was endorsed as one of the 35 environmental champions in Canada committed to bringing in a Green New Deal. I highly recommend checkout out this list (and LeadNow’s battleground champions) to see if anyone in your riding has been nominated. It’s a stellar crew.

The NDP has some great candidates in this election, and they reflect the diversity of Canada. 49% are women, 25% are from racialized communities, and 12% are from the LGBTQ community. You can really see the NDP’s commitment to fight inequality and racism comes from the top. Jagmeet Singh has been tremendous this campaign dealing with racist hecklers, responding the the Trudeau blackface incidents, and standing up for first nations access to clean drinking water.

By comparison, the Green Party is unfortunately still very white. Their candidates are 42% women but only 5% are visible minorities.

Strategic Voting

In a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, you may feel tempted to vote strategically. Don’t. For two reasons.

  1. The Liberals lied about proportional representation last time. They don’t deserve another strategic vote.
  2. If we end up in a minority government situation (highly likely), we need as many NDP and Green MPs as possible to push the Liberals to act on important issues like climate change, pharmacare, and electoral reform.
  3. If you’re debating between the NDP and Greens, I’d recommend choosing the party with the platform that speaks to you or the local candidate you like the best. If you still can’t decide, you can look at polling data and riding level predictions form sites like 338canada.com but beware that riding level predictions are often garbage.

Vancouver Addendum

In Vancouver Centre, it’s an easy choice for me to vote NDP. In some of the other Vancouver ridings there are candidates from other parties that I might vote for.

In Vancouver East it’s a toss-up between Jenny Kwan (NDP), the incumbent MP who’s been a vocal environmental advocate and Bridget Burns (Green), who runs the Vegan Night Market.

In Vancouver Granville, it’s an easy choice to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) – former Liberal Justice minister who was kicked out by Justin Trudeau for standing up for judicial independence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

In Vancouver Kingsway, it’s a toss-up between the incumbent MP Don Davies (NDP), who’s been a tireless advocate for pharmacare and dental care and Tamara Taggart (Liberal), who has really involved in local politics since retiring from broadcasting, advocating for rental housing and removing lead from school drinking water.

In Vancouver South, I’d be tempted to vote for Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal incumbent. He’s been a good Defence Minister and he’s running against Wai Young (Conservative) who used to represent the riding and is a toxic, anti-cyclist troll.

PR Referendum Guide

BC is having a referendum on how we choose our elected MLAs. This is a big deal. If the referendum passes and we move to a proportional representation voting system, it will fundamentally reshape voter engagement and politics in this province. So vote wisely. Your ballot should arrive by mail in the next few days, if you haven’t already received it.

The Ballot

There are two questions on the ballot.

  1. Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections?
    1. The current First Past the Post voting system
    2. A proportional representation voting system
  2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following systems do you prefer? (Rank in order of preference.)
    1. Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
    2. Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
    3. Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

You need to fill out your ballot and mail it back to Elections BC so that it arrives before November 30.

If voters choose proportional representation, the next 2 elections will be conducted under the most popular system from question 2. After that, there will be a second referendum to asking if British Columbians like the new voting system or we should go back to the old voting system.

The Options

The options might be overwhelming at first, but in less than 10 minutes you can learn the basics.

Here’s a 3 minute summary of what is wrong with our current system, from National Post columnist Andrew Coyne.

And a fun, easy-to-understand 4 minute video summarizing the options you’ll be voting for. If you only have 4 minutes to figure out how to vote, watch this video.

How I’m voting

Question 1 is easy. I’m voting for proportional representation. Our voting system is broken and needs to change. Too many people vote strategically for a party that isn’t their favourite. More people don’t even bother voting because their vote doesn’t seem to matter. Proportional representation should fix these problems, but if it doesn’t we can always go back to First Past the Post after 2 elections. So there is little risk of trying.

Question 2 is harder. Any of the options will be better than the system that we have right now, but they each have their pros and cons. As the video above points out, Dual Member is the simplest, Mixed Member is the most common around the world, and Rural-Urban gives voters the most power with ranked ballots.  I used the survey at referendumguide.ca to explore the characteristics of each of the proportional systems and this is what it suggested.

BallotRD

  1. Rural-Urban
  2. Dual Member
  3. Mixed Member

Rural-Urban is clearly my preferred system. I like having a ranked ballot and power as a voter to pick candidates from a bunch of political parties. As an example of how this might play out for me in Vancouver, my ballot would probably rank a bunch of Green and NDP candidates with the best ones at the top. That level of choice might not appeal to everyone, so I’m glad there are other options like Dual Member and Mixed Member being proposed that offer simpler ballots.

More Details

If you want more details on the voting systems and how the mechanics work, this 24 minute summary goes into all the details:

If you’re curious what the results of the last election (2017) hypothetically would have been under the 3 proportional representation systems, checkout bcvoteoptions.ca.

If you have an hour to hear more about why we should keep our voting system or change it, you can listen to a debate between the Yes and No sides from the Politicoast podcast, featuring Suzanne Anton and Seth Klein.

If you want to read more, there are descriptions of the three PR voting systems proposed here:

If you want to have a celebrity explain it to you, here’s Dan Mangan.

Lastly, there seems to be a lot of fear mongering coming from the No PR side (especially with Facebook ads) so to counter it I suggest you checkout Fair Vote Canada’s mythbusters series (which tackles questions like will proportional representation remove local representation or lead to unstable governments) and this spoof ad below for a chuckle.

Bonus Videos

Why I’m Voting NDP

Untitled

Advance polls open this weekend and I’m ready to cast my ballot for the NDP. There’s a number of reasons why.

  1. I hate strategic voting – it encourages the media to focus on polls instead of platforms and politicians to take boring, centrist positions. I want to be able to vote Green because I agree with their ideas without fear I’m wasting my vote. The NDP is committed to bringing in proportional representation before the next election, which will ensure the Conservatives never again get a majority with 38% of the vote.
  2. Climate change action – next to the Green Party, the NDP has the best environmental platform. With MPs like Tom Mulcair, Megan Leslie, Nathan Cullen, and Linda Duncan, you won’t find a more dedicated core of environmentalists in any other party. I trust them to take action more than the Liberals, who have a horribly vague plan and a history of not delivering. They signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 but did nothing to reduce GHG emissions. I want real action.
  3. Progressive policies – I like the NDPs promises to fund public transit, affordable childcare, a national pharmacare program, and interest-free student loans.
  4. Principled leadership – You can count on the NDP to make the right choice even when it’s not popular. They opposed Bill C-51 when it was still popular, and they’ve rallied against the Conservatives racist policies targeting Muslims, even though it appear to be hurting them in the polls. I appreciate a leader who stands up for what he believes in.
  5. Great local candidate – The NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre is former Parks Board trustee Constance Barnes. She’s an avid cyclist and passionate about urban issues. My current MP is Hedy Fry, who I can’t stand.
  6. I want real change – If Canada ever had a chance to break out of the Liberal-Conservative cycle and try something new, this election is it.

There are a few things I like about the Liberal platform. I agree with increased infrastructure funding, especially for public transit. I agree that marijuana should be legalized. And the Liberals have committed to bringing in electoral reform, although they’re vague on the details and I wouldn’t be surprised if they renege on that promise if they win. I just don’t trust the Liberals to deliver, and it bothers me that Justin Trudeau is leader solely because of who is father was. That’s how George W. Bush became President, and we know how that turned out.

Voting Resources

When?
Saturday, November 19, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Where?
Check out the City of Vancouver’s election website for basic information on where to vote and what identification you need.

Who?
Whomever you think will represent your interests and make Vancouver awesome. I’ll be voting for the Vision/COPE slate, with a few small changes thrown in.

For some other opinions, check out:

Voting advice from Dan Mangan

Here’s some video advice from Dan Mangan:

I would urge you to look at the candidates and choose ones that have decided to not go with attack ads, to not go with the low road, to not go with lowest common denominator politics, to not go with strategic griping, but sort of a politician who perhaps actually has passion, who takes into consideration a lot of issues that are on all of our minds.

And some advice from Vancouver cyclists:

I’m really going to vote for a bike-friendly candidate because this is amazing. To see how many people are getting out, to see the healthiness that we’re inspiring in Vancouver, to have safety, I think, is really key, and we want to support those in city council that are going to support cyclists.

Vote Vancouver

Advanced polls are now open. The election is Saturday, November 19th. If you’re a Canadian citizen living in Vancouver, you are eligible to vote.

This an important election. Over the next week, I’ll be posting a series of reasons why I think you should vote for Vision Vancouver and COPE, but for now you can watch this inspiring video with music from Dan Mangan.

Bold Election Prediction


There are still 2 weeks left in the Federal Election campaign, and anything can happen, but I’m ready to make a bold prediction.

On May 2, as the ballots are counted across Canada, the twitterverse will light up with comments on the surprising election results. The pundits will wonder how they misread public sentiment, the pollsters will quietly muse that their numbers were completely wrong, and everyone will point to a single reason – they were wrong to assume young people wouldn’t vote.

On May 2, I predict voter turnout will rise for the first time in my voting lifetime, largely because young people will show up in higher numbers then they have before. Media will go nuts and write many stupid articles about the “Facebook Generation” and the effect of social media on politics. Politicians will be forced to recognize the political power of young people and create laws that finally deal with the issues important to them. And Canada will get a parliament that isn’t so damn Conservative.

How likely is this to happen? Well it happened last year in the Calgary Mayoral election, when young people came out in large numbers to elect Naheed Nenshi, who ran a campaign largely driven by social media. And the threat of young people actually voting is scary enough to Conservative supporters that they freaked out when 700 University of Guelph students showed up to vote early. In response to Rick Mercer’s Vote plea, groups of students across the country have been organizing Vote Mobs, complete with catchy youtube videos. There will even be a Superhero Vote Mob in Vancouver on April 22.

So, maybe there is a chance for change. It’s time to show the country we have a voice. Please get out and vote!


Continue reading Bold Election Prediction