Last year the Harper Government redrew our electoral map to their advantage, strengthening their chances at retaining power in 2015. Even with only 33% of likely voters saying they will vote Conservative, they are still projected to win a plurality of seats. That number needs only to go up by about 5% for Harper to retain a majority.
The Liberals have balked at the idea of a coalition with the NDP, so preventing even a Conservative plurality is important for the left.
Here are my first five strategies for defeating Harper in 2015.
1. Pressure candidates polling 3rd in the week before the election to pull out of the race.
Voters (and politicians in a perfect world) need to monitor the polls in the weeks prior to the election, specifically in their ridings as well as others that are hotly contested. If the CPC candidate is polling at, say, 35%, with the LPC or NDP candidate polling at 30%/15%, inundate the candidate in 3rd place with tweets, e-mails, and comments urging them to drop out. Cite the polls, appeal to their sense of civic duty, whatever. Don’t go all gamer gate on them, but do address them directly.
It’s messy, but it’s our surest path. Looking at threehundredeight.com this would only need to be successful in a dozen or so ridings to swing the election.
2. Remind people that a minority government does not necessarily equal an unstable one.
In 2011 a lot of Ontario voters switched from LPC to CPC based on the premise that the CPC would accomplish more with a majority government.
They forgot Lester B. Pearson (LPC) picked our flag, started universal health care, and brought in the Canada Pension Plan, all with a minority government. He did this by working closely with the NDP, something the current LPC should learn from and cite as a benefit of a Liberal minority.
3. Call out the Harper Government’s attempts to wedge the left.
Bill C51 is a perfect example of this. Trudeau had to vote for it in order to avoid the “soft on terror” label that would lose him precious votes from the centre in Ontario where he needs them most. Mulcair had to vote against it because even though he supports parts of the bill, voting for it would cause the far left to flock to Elizabeth May.
As I mentioned in my last post, Harper loves this. He’s hoodwinked us. The left, instead of arguing which party can defeat the CPC in their riding, is now squabbling over which ‘left-leaning’ party is better, which looks a lot like two people crawling east on the deck of a ship heading west.
4. Find a way to call out Fascism without being clear that this is what you’re doing.
Here’s the thing about Fascism: It works by being so sensationally awful, that even a factual description of what’s happening appears sensationalist, never mind an impassioned plea that others acknowledge it.
The NDP is already doing this in a subtle way, with rhetoric about keeping us safe without infringing upon civil liberties. By framing it this way they position themselves as taking terror seriously while also legitimizing the fear that the Harper Government is systematically taking away our rights. Outright calling Harper a fascist just loses the ears of swing voters, even when the claim is factual.
Folks should point out how the CPC blocks people from their social media platforms (Tony Clement is notorious on Twitter for this), but don’t frame it as “They’re killing freedom of speech” (even if they are), simply say “They’re blocking people from their social media platforms.”
The political right is full of experts in moving people through innuendo. Harper only had to obliquely reference Mosques in his speech introducing Bill C51 to stir up his base.
We can learn a thing or two from Stephen Harper. (See what I did there?)
5. Point out that the main criticisms of Trudeau are dependent upon the assumption that he’s running for President of the United States.
Hear me out. The CPC is trying to make national defence the #1 election issue because it feeds their central criticism of Trudeau: That he’s “in over his head.” He couldn’t handle the 3am phone call. He could sit in the Situation Room and make that crucial military decision. He’s too much of a fratboy to be Commander-in-Chief of a large military power.
And gosh they might be right, but every time the LPC tries to reassure everyone that Trudeau can play a central role in the war on terror, they buy into the CPC’s false premise that this is actually our role in the world.
Prime Minister is, on the global military stage, a desk job compared to POTUS. Canada will never be that behemoth country locked between nuclear powers using their military prowess to diffuse World War 3. Canada’s best military role is one of support and diplomacy. Who solved the Suez Crisis through diplomatic means, winning a Nobel Prize for his efforts? That would be LPC PM, Lester B. Pearson. The left needs to make diplomacy the conversation, if they’re going to make national defence a conversation at all (which I don’t think they should — more on that next post).
By the way, if there actually was an attempted occupation on Canadian soil that actually was connected to ISIS (still no evidence the Parliament Hill shooting was), the US would roll over in their sleep and obliterate them before you could see the pigs flying. We’re their highest importer of foreign oil to the US and a close military ally; I’m sorry but we could have Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors as Prime Minister and our national defence concerns would be about the same.
In attempting to flex his military strength on a global stage, Harper is coming from a position of weakness and grossly overstating his role as a global player.