For a more detailed recap of 2010, see Twelve Reasons to defeat Harper in the next election
If re-elected, we fear the Conservatives will proceed to ruthlessly cut away at many more valuable programs, irrevocably destroying the social fabric of our country. There is legitimate concern about a “hidden agenda” that caters to fringe theoconservatives. Journalist Marci MacDonald, in her new book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, describes the threat lurking within the Conservative Party.
Opinion polls show that the Conservatives need a push out the door. We need more Canadians to get out and vote, strategically in certain ridings, to defeat the Conservatives.
4. What is strategic voting?
Strategic voting has come to mean many things to different people. It is most commonly understood to mean that a voter votes for their second choice in order to defeat or prevent the election of a third candidate. Voters can be motivated to vote strategically including party, leader, policy or local candidate.Because our electoral system does not require a winner to get half the votes, candidates can be vulnerable to relatively small shifts in votes.
Strategic voting campaigns attempt to raise awareness with voters in targeted ridings about the issues and influence voters choices. Political parties often evoke strategic voting in specific ridings as part of their campaigns. The Catch 22 campaign includes, but is not limited to strategic voting. Our strategy also includes improving voter turnout and outreach to new voters.
Isn’t strategic voting undemocratic?
There is nothing undemocratic about a group of people getting together and urging the public to vote against, or for, any particular party or candidate. Indeed, our flawed “first-past-the-post” electoral system encourages strategic voting. It is our electoral system itself that is seriously undemocratic.
Canada and Britain are the only remaining parliamentary governments in the developed world using a “first-past-the-post” system. Under this system, when a party wins more than 50% of the ridings, it forms a "majority government" and ends up with 100% of the power (winner take all). When the winning party secures less than 50% of the ridings, it may form a "minority government" with the support (confidence) of other members of the House of Commons. In either case, the winning party does not need the support of a majority of voters. Votes are not equal and half the voters go unrepresented in Parliament.
The weaknesses of this system are easily evident. In the last federal election, the Conservatives received only 37 per cent of the popular vote, but won 46 per cent of seats. Meanwhile, the NDP received 18 per cent of the popular vote, but won only 12 per cent of the seats. Perhaps most egregiously, the Green Party received almost 7 per cent of the popular vote, but won no seats!
Canada needs to change its electoral system by adopting one of the many forms of proportional representation (PR) in use around the world. Under most PR systems, everyone gets an equal vote. The percentage of votes received by the parties is reflected in the number of seats, producing a Parliament that actually accords with the voters’ intentions. With PR systems, almost all voters help elect representatives to their Parliaments. With proportional representation, strategic voting would not be necessary.
5. Does strategic voting work?
While strategic voting campaigns have been effectively used to defeat or block individual candidates at the riding level, there are few, if any examples of changes of government (in recent history). The 1999 Ontario provincial strategic voting campaign came within about 10,000 votes in 12 ridings of denying the Harris Conservatives a second "phony" majority. The success of strategic voting campaigns is determined by how strongly the public wishes to see a particular party or candidate defeated, and how well the campaigns are organized and carried out.
The Catch 22 campaign is working from the premise that the only way to make strategic voting work is despite the opposition parties. Strategic voting is not about voting universally for the party that is 2nd place in the national polls.
Canadians will switch their vote away from their favourite
candidate if they feel there is a good reason to endorse, or
oppose, another party or candidate. A team of researchers from Duke
University studied the voting patterns in the 1988, 1993, 1997, and
2000 federal elections – and found that “there were a substantial
number of voters who did not vote for their most preferred party”
so that their vote would possibly have more impact on the outcome
of the elections (see: Strategic Voting in Canada).
One of the most successful strategic voting campaigns in Canada occurred in Newfoundland during the last federal election. Upset with the Harper Conservative's treatment of Newfoundland, Premier Danny Williams called on Newfoundlanders to vote against the Conservatives. As a result of the Anything But Conservative campaign, the Conservatives dropped to only 16.5 per cent of the popular vote in Newfoundland and failed to win any of the province’s seven seats.
6. What ridings are included in the Catch 22 campaign?
Here are the Catch 22 ridings presently included in the campaign. We will further evaluate conditions across the country and add additional ridings as it becomes clear where we can best focus our campaign.
7. What criteria did you use to select the Catch 22 target ridings?
We are focusing on those Conservative-held ridings where voters have the best chance of defeating the incumbent. We selected the Catch 22 ridings primarily on the basis of the margin of victory in the 2008 election. We also considered these other criteria.
8. How will Catch 22 decide which candidate to endorse?
Catch 22 is party-neutral in that we do not seek to favour one particular opposition party. Our target ridings were chosen in order to maximize the effectiveness of our campaign (i.e. we are targeting the most vulnerable Conservative incumbents). In each target riding, we will endorse the opposition candidate with the best chance to win. As such, our endorsements simply reflect each parties' chances of winning the target ridings.
While our central campaign has identified winnable ridings, the final decision for endorsements rests with our local Catch 22 groups. Endorsements will only be made after all the opposition parties have completed their candidate nominations. There will be a discussion period followed by a decision. We hope to reach consensus around our candidate picks. We want to ensure that everyone has their say on this important matter.
9. Who is funding Catch 22?
The Catch 22 campaign is currently funded by small donations from individuals.
Our expenditures to date have been reasonably low, since consulting, editorial and technical services have been provided by volunteers. However, we expect to incur significant costs in the future, particularly for printing our pro-democracy literature that will be distributed in target ridings.
We will be adding a donation function to our website in the hope that the campaign can continue to be funded by individuals at the grassroots. However, we may also consider approaching organizations for donations or services in kind, such as printing services.
Yes. The policy can be found here. It explains how we collect and use your personal information.
11. I don't live in a Catch 22 riding. How can I help?
If you live near a target riding, you are welcome to join the local group. If you're not, there are a number of ways to help including outreach, research, editorial services, administration, translations and fundraising.
12. Additional information
If you have additional questions about the Catch 22 campaign, please contact us.
You can also find our campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
If you agree with our goals, please join Catch 22 and get involved in the campaign. When election time rolls around, make sure you get out and vote!