Federal Election 2008 : Voting for the Environment

There are tough times for green voters this upcoming federal election. The Conservatives, who are almost certain to win at least a term as a minority government, are a disaster on the environment. Instead of going into specifics, I'll direct you to the Sierra Club of Canada's Voters’ Guide to the Climate Crisis Election (pdf file). It gives the Conservatives a big fat F+ on the environment, by far the worst grade of any political party.

And please don't assume that this is a partisan analysis. I'm a green voter. Brian Mulroney was a green Prime Minister, and I would happily support Stephen Harper if he was too. He's just not. In fact, he just recently started to pretend to believe that climate change is real.

So what is a treehugging Edmontonian to do? The answer, if you live in Edmonton-Strathcona, is to vote for the NDP's Linda Duncan.  Longtime Reform/Alliance/Conservative incumbent Rahim Jaffer is regularly outvoted, but because the left-of-Jaffer vote is split three ways, he keeps getting the seat. Let's get this straight right now: the only legitimate anti-Jaffer vote is a Linda Duncan vote. In a highly annoying move, the Liberal candidate has been spending big dollars in her futile attempt to mine the NDP's considerable Strathcona vote base.

The fact is, the NDP vote has been increasing for four elections in a row. Here's the NDP vote versus Jaffer's:

NDP votes vs. Conservative votes, Edmonton-Strathcona

In 2006, Linda Duncan got about 17,000 votes, Jaffer got 22,000, and the Liberals got a bit over 9000 votes.

If you live in Edmonton-Strathcona, and you don't want to vote for Jaffer, please vote NDP. Linda Duncan has the best hope out of anyone in Alberta of beating a Conservative. It's maybe one in a hundred, but it is a chance.

Plus, Duncan is a longtime environmentalist. She's widely respected in her field, and she would make a strong voice for the environment in Parliament.

If you live elsewhere in Edmonton, your vote will be mostly wasted, because the Conservatives are going to slaughter everyone. I would vote Green, because it makes the party more legitimate, and they will get $1.50 more because of your vote due to Canada's public financing rules.

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Actually, it's not a 1 in 100 chance. democraticSPACE.com, which beat out all of the professional pollsters in their riding-by-riding elections predictions in 2006, has Edmonton-Strathcona currently listed as "too close to call" (go to the "See Riding Predictions" link on the front page and download the .pdf). And if the NDP vote across the country keeps increasing, things will actually quickly turn in Duncan's favour.

I'm personally frustrated with the Green party. Being a one-issue party has put them too far into the "environment or bust" mindset. What I mean is this: the Green party is far too anti-scientific for my likings, as well as being too far right-wing on many economic issues (but those tend to flip-flop based on leadership).

Nevertheless, if you're a committed Green (esp. in Edmonton-Strathcona), I would suggest voting NDP and then donating a few dollars to the Greens. It's the same advice I've been giving to most people who are trying to "strategic vote". That $1.50 is one thing, but $20 to your party can actually make a difference (whereas a vote is likely to be lost until we get electoral reform).

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