Election 2015 campaign results

The 42nd general election is now behind us, and one can almost feel the land reverberate with our collective sigh of relief. The CUSJ championed many election-related actions on this site, and here we will review the success of each.

Proportional representation campaign: huge strides

MakeEveryVoteCount

CUSJ supported the Fair Vote Canada “Make Every Vote Count” Campaign to urge all the parties to support a move to a voting system where every vote contributes to electing a representative. The Fair Vote Campaign was a monumental grass-roots effort, in which hundreds of volunteers across Canada contacted their local candidates and lobbied them to provide a personal statement about proportional representation. The parties obliged–sort of:

  • The Conservative Party of Canada flogged the dead-horse FPTP electoral model and refused to engage in any dialog whatsoever on the issue of PR.
  • The Liberal Party issued an ambiguous statement that promised to study “electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting”. The problem with this statement is that it lumps PR in the company of strange bedfellows such as ranked ballots (decidedly NOT proportional)…. Further, the statement is phrased to suggest that mandatory voting and/or online voting are alternatives to PR, rather than complementary reforms.
  • The NDP championed PR, and more precisely the MMP model. Sadly, Craig Scott, the MP for Toronto-Danforth and Official Opposition for Democratic and Parliamentary Reform, was a victim of the Liberal sweep.
  • The Green Party remained unwavering in its traditional support of PR.
  • The Bloc remained unclear on the concept, stating that the issue of PR was, for them, subordinate to the cause of sovereignty.

Many MPs remained loyal to their respective party lines on PR, but a few did break rank to make statements in favor of a proportional system.

This effort was, I think, unprecedented in the history of our country and the results were impressive: voters, politicians and grassroots groups all learned and proselytized the merits of a PR system.

CUSJ Press Release:  2015 05 18 Unanimous vote to work for proportional representation at AGM.

Vote together: an ambiguous result

Many are wondering whether LeadNow’s Vote together campaign succeeded. The campaign strategy was to target ridings that favored the Conservatives, in order to pool support behind the party of the second-place candidate in hopes of defeating the Conservatives. One pitfall of such a strategy is that some voters may have voted for a Liberal candidate in the misguided assumption that the Liberals would have the better chance of defeating the Conservatives… If the Conservatives were running in third place in a riding, such negative voting tactics were not only unnecessary, they gave a huge boost to the Liberals vote count. According to Fair Vote Canada executive member Wilf Day, the LeadNow campaign was “… based only on local polling in 80 ridings over the month before the election. It had little effect. The whole country swung behind the Liberals in the last few days of the campaign, in a collective impulse to end the Harper government. Recommendations by LeadNow to vote for 31 NDP candidates were successful in 13 cases, but failed in 18 others.”

Aboriginals rocked the vote

The Rock the Vote campaign aimed to get members of Canada’s First Nations community to vote. Aboriginal turnout is traditionally low compared to the general population.

Some aboriginals believe that voting in a Canadian election would somehow recognize Canada as their country–a gesture that they see as an abdication of their status as a distinct culture and a distinct nation. Nonetheless, the Rock the Vote campaign seemed to appeal to young Aboriginals, and it was deemed a success. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, added his voice to the movement, and set the example, casting a ballot for the first time in a federal election on Oct. 19 2015 in Ottawa.

The aboriginal vote is not counted separately, so it is difficult to quantify and analyze. However, on October 19, 2015, accounts emerged of polling stations in First Nations communities running out of ballots. If we take each of the five First Nations mentioned in the APTN article, we can compare the voter turnout and the results in the light of the phenomenally high voter turnout in these five ridings with a strong First Nations presence. In 2011, the Conservatives took three of these ridings; after the dust settled in 2015, they had only one–the other two were Liberal and NDP, respectively. The NDP incumbents were able to hold on to their two 2011 seats and pick up another in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River. (Surely the 70% voter turnout there had something to do with this!)

Province Turnout 2015 Turnout 2011 First Nation Polling station Riding Party elected in 2011 Party elected on Oct. 19 2015 Comments
Ontario 72.15% 60.38%. Onigaming First Nation Kenora Conservative Liberal Robert Nault, a former federal Liberal Aboriginal Affairs minister. APTN reported that the Onigaming First Nation community polling station temporarily ran out of ballots, as did Shoal Lake 40, as a result of the high number of unregistered voters who showed up.
Manitoba 61.5% 56.5% Moose Cree First Nation Timmins-James Bay NDP Charlie Angus NDP Charlie Angus
63.7% 45.35% Split Lake First Nation Churchill—Keewatinook Aski NDP Niki Ashton NDP Niki Ashton Ballots ran out. The Churchill riding has the highest percentage of North American Indians (61.1%) in Canada. It has elected NDP reps since 1979.
Saskatchewan 70.01% 52.43% Big River First Nation Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River Conservative Rob Clarke NDP Georgina Jolibois (by 70 votes) Demographics: 70.9 per cent of people identified as Aboriginal in the 2011 census—by far the highest number in Saskatchewan, and the third highest in all of Canada.
Alberta 66.42% 52.2% (Medicine Hat) Siksika First Nation Bow River Conservatives Gordon Taylor; Kevin Sorenson (as Crowfoot riding); Lavar Payne (as Medicine Hat); John Barlow, (MacLeod) Conservative Martin Shield Bow River is a new riding composed of the former ridings of Crowfoot, Medicine Hat, and MacLeod, all Conservative strongholds. Ballots ran out on the reserves and there was difficulty voting.

2 thoughts on “Election 2015 campaign results

  1. I was shocked to see how inaccurate was your information on the Leadnow campaign. I thought CUSJ tried to be objective in their analyses but I fear the organisation may have a dislike of strategic voting.

    Please correct the information about Leadnow. They worked in marginal ridings where splitting of the vote would let a Conservative win the seat. Leadnow endorsed 29 candidates in 29 ridings, 25 of which won their election, one riding where Leadnow endorsed a NDP candidate elected a Liberal and in the other 3 ridings the Conservatives won. In every one of those ridings, Leadnow or other organisations, funded in-riding polls which have proved to be the most reliable polls. Of the candidates endorsed by Leadnow, 17 were Liberal and 14 were NDP.

    So you can see the para on Leadnow gave completely inaccurate information and I think CUSJ should acknowledge this.

    • Dear Melody, Thank you for comment. The post in question cites a comment from Fair Vote Canada’s Wilf Day, which states that “Recommendations by LeadNow to vote for 31 NDP candidates were successful in 13 cases, but failed in 18 others”. You point out that LeadNow recommended 14 NDP candidates (not 31); I checked the VoteTogether site, and this is close to what is posted there, that LeadNow supported 13 NDP and 16 Liberal candidates. So the question seems to be, who are the “18 other” candidates that were presumably recommended by LeadNow, and who were not elected? I contacted Wilf Day with this question, and he states that the 18 NDP candidates to whom he refers are those candidates who, while they were not specifically endorsed by LeadNow, were in ridings where the Conservative candidate was clearly in last place… thus in the spirit of the campaign, voters could have voted for their preferred candidate (whether Liberal or NDP) because strategic voting would be unnecessary. Yet, due to a “Bandwagon effect,” fearful voters decided to be prudent and vote for a sure thing, the traditional frontrunner party, the Liberals. Many fine NDP candidates became sacrificial lambs when their supporters did an about-face at the ballot box, and voted for their second-choice party in a panicked bid to guarantee a Conservative defeat. Some would conclude then, that while the LeadNow campaign succeeded in overturning the much-maligned Conservative government, that it failed to deliver a truly democratic parliament. In other words, strategic voting is not an effective stand-in for Proportional Representation.

      I would also like to reassure you that the CUSJ does not “dislike strategic voting” as you suggest; and as you consult this site you will see that in fact CUSJ supported the VoteTogether campaign. This post was merely an analysis of all CUSJ campaigns, in order to understand where we as Canadians need to focus our efforts going forward.

      Sincerely, C. Gomery, CUSJ.org Editor

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