I was part of a cross-party team that worked to elect Jenica Atwin as the first Green MP from Fredericton. We focused all our attention on providing voters with information about our candidate, our platform and what she would try to do if elected. One voter told me she really liked Jagmeet Singh, but thought that voting NDP was a wasted vote. I reminded her that if that was where her values lined up she should choose that option, but asked her to compare the Green platform as well.
In contrast, organizers and some participants of the Better Together? meeting in Nelson crossed a line from advocating for strategic voting to engaging in voter suppression. As former NDP MP Wayne Stetski wrote to a constituent prior to the election:
“When Parliament is sitting NDP MPs believe in working with other parties to better serve Canadians, but when Parliament is dissolved for an election it is time to give Canadian voters a real choice. I believe voters want a choice, and I believe they have concerns with what they perceive to be backroom deals between parties … I appreciate your feedback and I respect your goals, but think it is important for Canadian voters to have their say in the make-up of Parliament.”
Our constitution at section 3 of the Charter is crystal clear: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”
When voters and organizations start demanding that other candidates step aside so that their preferred candidate can win, they do Canadian democracy a great disservice, by suppressing the rights of others to run for elected office and to vote for the individual candidate or party of their choice.