Opinion

Memo to Iggy, Jack and Liz: Get Strategic!

On behalf of the Lesser of Evils Party, may I suggest you tell your supporters to just plain vote against Stephen Harper?

By Shannon Rupp 29 Apr 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Shannon Rupp is a Tyee contributing editor, whose previous articles can be found here.

Memo

Attention: Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May Re: Interpreting the Polls

As a card-carrying member of the Lesser of Evils Party (LEP) I’ve been asked to send you a note regarding those increasingly wacky polls leading up to our biannual election.

You seem to have trouble interpreting them, although they’re all saying the same thing: More than 60 per cent of Canadians want a coalition that does not include Mr. Harper.

So, Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Layton, and Ms. May, we are asking you to set aside your agendas, personal and professional, and consider the good of the nation. Please ask your candidates and supporters to cast a vote, riding by riding, for whichever party has the best chance of denying The Harper Government ™ even the hint of a mandate.

Despite what Mr. Harper told you, we want a coalition. (In the excitement of chasing the vote you seem to have forgotten he’s a known prevaricator.) While we may not enjoy having our fourth election in seven years, we dislike him even more. There’s no doubt this election was necessary and we want him tossed out permanently this time. Perhaps you need a formal, written agreement for the Canadian Coalition that ensures stability?

There’s been a consistency to the polls for months, which is reinforced by the sudden surge of NDP support in Quebec. For obvious reasons, the Bloc can’t form a coalition, so Quebecers are encouraging the other left-leaning party because they, like the rest of the country, are tired of dealing with that megalomaniac who lies like a rug.

Yes people, even Quebec wants to join a Canadian Coalition. (Perhaps we have something to thank Harper for?)

Which raises the question of why you are all still taking swipes at each other.

Lay off the infighting

We have a shared goal: We all object to The Harper Government ™ for all of the reasons the opposition has outlined, from contempt to corruption. And if you factor in the disgruntled Tories who can’t bring themselves to vote elsewhere, the opposition is overwhelming. Not that any polling will tell you that. As a Tory friend puts it: There is no category in which an anti-Harper Tory can declare herself.

Which is why we in the LEP are speaking up. By the way, we pronounce it “leap” and call ourselves “leapers,” for our willingness to take a leap of faith and vote for people who appear to be unfit for most callings. We’ve been meaning to discuss this with you too, but let’s deal with one problem at a time.

Determining the lesser of evils is a tricky business and our members tend to vote across the spectrum. Alas, our Red Tory members have had nowhere to vote for some years now and have taken to voting with their feet. (There’s less mystery to voter disengagement than you seem to think.)

It’s true some LEP members have been tossing a vote to the ReformaTory minority governments, on the assumption that they couldn’t do much worse than the Liberals. But now they know they were wrong about that. And our female Leapers fear they may become lepers if Harper succeeds in legislating the fundamentalist Christian social agenda.

The LEP platform

I’ll be honest and admit that we at LEP have no fondness for any of the parties. “A Pox on All Their Houses” is our slogan, and we struggle every two years to find somewhere to vote. Courtesy of the superficial nature of party politics, I’ve come to think of you all as ill-conceived pop bands: Harper and the Fundamentalists, Iggy and the Stooges (naturally) and Riverboat Jack and the Gamblers. Am I the only one who looks for a diamond-studded tooth whenever Layton flashes that shark-like grin?

Sadly, we’ve fallen into the U.S. habit of treating politics like an American Idol competition. It isn’t. It’s about finding consensus in how we do things as a nation, with the ultimate goal of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to live the good life.

With that in mind, we’re asking you lot to show some genuine leadership -- in other words, do something that is not entirely self-serving -- and join forces to keep The Harper Government ™ out. It’s the will of the people, and you’ll be doing the Tories a favour too: they need a timeout to dump Harper and his cadre while they find someone more democratic – more, dare I say it, Canadian -- to lead them.

So here’s the plan. Check the website Project Democracy and find out who can beat the Harper minions riding-by-riding. Then come out publicly in a show of unity and advise your followers to support the appropriate candidates.

If we coordinate the voting, it should give us a solid minority-with-a-crutch that includes most Canadian views -- especially if you invite some Tories into the caucus. As I said, our members include despairing Tories and they’re not pretty. One of them likes to offer an open-handed salute and shout “Heil Harper” whenever The Leader comes on television. Then he bursts into tears. We’ve told him this is not helpful, but still, you can see his point.

Afterwards, roles for everyone

Of course, there will be some thorny problems when it comes to forming government, such as who gets to be prime minister -- we’ll leave that one to the seat count -- but we have a few suggestions for the cabinet.

We’d ask you all to back Ms. May in Saanich-Gulf Islands. She’s a thoughtful, hardworking candidate who will make a superb MP. With almost a million Green votes across the country, she deserves a seat and they deserve a voice. Make her minister of the environment and let her deal with the practical problems of some of her views. Not coincidentally, we think it would also give her an excellent example of being careful what you wish for.

Mr. Ignatieff needs to see that he lacks the charisma necessary to win over the mob, and he’s too much a gentleman to play dirty on the hustings. He’s a sophisticated thinker and a diplomat who impressed many of us with his graciousness in the debate, even to Mr. Layton whose egomania gets on everyone’s nerves. We feel that if Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t score the most seats in the coalition, he’s a natural choice for minister of foreign affairs.

We want a Liberal finance minister. Anyone with half a brain and Google knows that it was decades of Liberal policies, including bank regulation, which gave Canada an advantage in the last recession. Please remember the Liberals ran five surplus budgets in a row before Harper got his hand on the kitty and began sending $1.5 billion in subsidies to his pals in the oil patch. Canada can’t survive much more of Harper’s fiscal style.

We want NDP ministers on social policy portfolios including women’s issues, pensions, and health. Again, historically, the NDP gave us our most successful programs.

Tories speak for much of rural Canada and represent small business concerns, which is a significant part of our economy. Don’t ignore the talent on their backbenches in the name of some loony partisanship. That’s just dumb.

Ignore the LEP at your peril

Now, you can ignore this memo and go on sniping at each other, but I warn you LEP members are inclined to interpret lesser-of-evils somewhat whimsically if left to their own devices. This can lead to vote-splitting and another backhanded victory for The Harper Government ™ which -- have I mentioned this? -- more than 60 per cent of us are (loudly!) opposed to.

Read the polls: Please make the Canadian Coalition a reality. And remember people, we’re looking for a responsible government, not an Idol winner.  [Tyee]

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