This opinion piece is part of a broader week-long MJPS Online series on voting intentions. Check here for other components of the series. The views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the position of the editor, the McGill Journal of Political Studies, or the Political Science Students’ Association.
On October 21, 2019, I plan on heading to the polls to vote for the candidate I believe should represent Lac Saint-Louis in the House of Commons. The only problem is, I am unsure who to vote for.
According to CBC’s Vote Compass, I agree with the Liberals on 69% of issues, a close third to the NDP or Green party with whom I agree with on 70% and 75% of issues, respectively. Lac Saint-Louis became a riding in 1997 and has since been a Liberal stronghold. The only exception was during the 2011 ‘Orange Wave’ when Liberal incumbent Francis Scarpaleggia won with a meager 34% of the vote. In 2015, however, this rebounded to 64%.
Based on their policies, I can easily eliminate half the parties from my decision of who to vote for.
As a strong believer in inter-provincial and federal-provincial cooperation, the Bloc Québécois, whose policies are centered on preserving and increasing the autonomy of Québec in the federation, is a non-starter for my vote.
Next, the right-wing policies of the Conservative Party and the People’s Party do not fit with my worldview. In my opinion, the classic conservative hyperfocus on budget deficits to the detriment of social welfare and the People’s Party’s anti-global sentiment hurt Canadians in the long-run.
The Liberal Party: Too Liberal in Interpreting Campaign Promises?
The dominance of the Liberals in Lac Saint-Louis may point to a well-drawn riding. When the Liberals win by such large margins they actually represent the majority of voters in the riding.
At the same time, this dominance means there is little ability for 35% of Lac Saint-Louis voters’ preferences to be heard. This is part of the reason why electoral reform was something I was looking forward to after the 2015 election.
Since then Trudeau has made a series of missteps including making partisan appointments in the Senate, putting pressure on the Minister of Justice regarding SNC-Lavalin, and failing to present an action plan in response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry.
Last, the Trudeau Government has pursued a costly bid to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council, all while scaling back peacekeeping commitments and making missteps during the trip in India.
Together, these missteps make it difficult to believe Trudeau when he says that “we’re back” to supporting our allies abroad.
A recent study indicates Trudeau’s government has fully followed through on about 50% of pledges made in 2015 and partially fulfilled about 40% of promises. While these figures seem promising, some of the gaffes made undermine those successes by questioning Trudueau’s ability to run government effectively.
The Green Party: Green with Inexperience
While the Green party has reached new polling records, I tend to think this popularity has less to do with the party itself and more to do with the zeitgeist vis-à-vis the climate emergency.
In 2016, May deliberated resigning after her party officially endorsed the BDS movement – which points to serious fractures between members. More recently, the leader reversed her stance that Canada should only use domestic oil sources after receiving criticism from members of her party citing to the environmental impact of extracting oil from tar sands.
Last, May’s comment that SNC-Lavalin should be hired to overhaul the water systems on Reserves resulted in a veritable tongue lashing and may evince the lack of genuine concern May has shown for Indigenous issues despite their place in the party platform.
Overall, the Green party seems to be in disarray and appears to lack the intra-party debate required before the release of new policies. Ultimately, the mistakes made over the past few months make me question whether I would want the party in government.
The NDP: No Decent Plan
This election, my biggest concern with the NDP is their goal to abolish the Senate without proposing a new organ to replace it. While past scandals question whether the Senate has actually functioned as Canada’s ‘sober house of second thought’, the House of Commons would effectively operate unconstrained without it. That is to say, since the executive branch sits in our legislature, there would be no division of legislative power.
The political implication of simply removing the biggest check on executive political power – a check that we lobbied the British government for two centuries ago – are far reaching and I don’t think the NDP has thought much about them. This plan, alongside the separation from the monarchy, would require a round of mega-constitutional politics not seen since the 1990s, and the NDP has not put forward any plans to facilitate this.
Additionally, NDP policies fail to address the ineffective relationship between the provinces and federal government. For example, while they plan to subsidize daycare around the country by giving each province additional funding, this plan does not address preventing different standards of care across provinces. Further, the NDP is silent on reducing inter provincial trade barriers.
With the election fast approaching, I need to decide who to vote for. It would be simple to see a non-Liberal vote as wasted due to the near certainty of the Liberal win in my riding.
Rather, if I cast a vote for another party, I hope it points to the growing need for electoral reform in Canada. Despite the Liberals’ mistakes over the past four years, they are polling well in Lac Saint-Louis. The past four years have not inspired my continued support, but, then again, neither have the NDP or Greens.
Edited by Eyitayo Kunle-Oladosu.
This opinion piece is part of a broader week-long MJPS Online series on voting intentions. Check here for other components of the series. For general information on how to vote in this month’s federal election, see this resource from Elections Canada. If you’re a university student, you may be able to vote on campus. Find out how here.
The views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the position of the editor, the McGill Journal of Political Studies, or the Political Science Students’ Association. Questions regarding this series can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.