For all the reasons recently set out by Bob Malcolmson of Nelson in his March 20th letter to the Nelson Star, Conservative gerrymandering has put Green Party supporters into a state of maximum discomfort in the forthcoming national election. Yes, it seems all but certain that to vote Green again in this election is to insure that a Bennett-like Conservative returns to Ottawa. And yes, the only hope of defeating the Harper candidate appears to require that all voters in our riding join to maximize the vote for NDP candidate, Wayne Stetski.
Greens have a few reasons to doubt Mr. Stetski’s ability to push solutions to the concerns that members of the Green Party so strongly feel. And yet, the NDP as a party is on record as being committed to electoral reforms that would allow all voters some proportional representation in parliament, whatever the riding in which they live and vote.
I am one of those Green Party members who have asked the party, for this election in particular, to avoid running candidates in a small number of “close” ridings where Green votes will clearly help split the vote and favour the election of Conservative candidates. I have asked the party to do this even if the Liberals and/or NDPs are unwilling to return the favour for a few Green candidates in ridings where the Green candidate stands a strong chance of winning. I have urged the Green Party to put the national interest ahead of the party interest. To date I have received no hints that the Green Party was or is willing to do this. Nor, it seems clear, is any other opposition party.
So for the moment, I will probably be “forced” to vote NDP, tactically, in the next federal election. If enough others do the same, we appear to have a chance to reverse the local gerrymander-factor. But my biggest concern is that if many Green supporters vote tactically, and if as a result the Green Party total vote drops nationally, then the future powers that be will claim that the Green Party deserves no seat at subsequent leader’s debates, nor any time to speak in parliament, even if Greens do elect a few more MPs in ridings other than ours, and even if the NDP were to form a minority government.
Sitting out the next election is not an option. Everyone needs to vote this time. It is just too bad that many of us in the Kootenay-Columbia riding, Greens, and even some Liberals, will have to pay a “poll-tax,” one that may take the form of a few ulcers.