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A Totally New System of Strategic Voting for the Ontario Provincial Election

Teachers, Support Staff, and unions in general face some tough choices in the next Ontario provincial election that is already causing key players to swallow hard. The progressive community in general and the unions in particular have a series of options in front of them. Each direction has some serious arguments to recommend it but also serious pitfalls. 

Let¡¯s look at the available options and see where the possibilities optimize for workers.

Option #1 we could call the Working Families Coalition model. This model would go all in on an anti-Hudak, anti-PC anti-Right to Work (RTW) perspective. The familiar model would have an air war of hard hitting TV and possibly radio and print ads that target the Hudak/PC RTW POV and saturate the airwaves hoping to blunt and possibly roll back the PCs and deal a serious blow to RTW and other anti-Labour policies. If the leaders determine that RTW is the only serious threat to workers this ¡°let the chips fall¡± outlook works but also strongly favours a totally undeserving and dangerous Ontario Liberal Party by saying Hudak¡¯s PCs are the only enemy of Labour in Ontario politics. Teachers, education workers, OPSEU, CUPE, ONA, and even cops and firefighters understand that they were singled out and seriously abused by the Liberals PS wage controls that followed the Drummond Report.

Bill 115 was a vicious anti-Labour Bill. Real progressives regardless of party ought to have denounced it and voted against it. ¡®Speaking up¡¯ in cabinet and caucus just does not cut it. Option #1 wipes this all away, takes the Grits totally off the hook and says a Liberal MPP is as good as an NDP MPP. This is a serious error. If you like the treatment of labour by the McGuinty-Wynne government this model rewards that behaviour. If you encourage that behaviour, expect to get more of it after the next election.

Option #2 we could call the NDP option. This is a serious option and Labour may be slowly returning to this option election after election. Labour is still very divided on this option but the blame for that lies with the NDP, not the Labour Movement. It dates all the way back to a little something called the Social Contract that divided labour in the 1990s and as some critics at the time warned, this profoundly inept policy has taken the NDP a full generation to recover from and the rehabilitation although under way, is incomplete. Liberal¡¯s stupidity has played the role of speeding up the full labour-NDP rapprochement but although they are seriously dating this relationship remains unconsummated. Many unions are all in on this option while others are still hedging their bets. One concern remains, can the NDP win again even with maxed out support. The positives aspect of option #2 is that it punishes the two anti-labour parties since 2011 and rewards the only pro-labour party. Does Hudak win however, in option #2 as NDP votes pile up in unwinnable seats?

Option #3 we can call it the ¡®classic¡¯ Strategic Voting direction followed by the teachers for example, since 2003. It has the advantage of being able to keep the PCs at bay and out of power ¡°if successful¡± but again it over-rewards the undeserving anti-labour Liberal MPPs by supporting the ¡®best placed¡¯ non PC opponent, incumbent or second place finisher to the PC MPP. The nature of the Liberal vote is the ¡°mile wide and inch deep¡± vote. As a result they generate more MPPs and second place finishes per vote than the NDP. The NDP vote, primarily a class based vote, tends to pile up heavily in working class ridings and runs pretty thin in rural communities except resource based communities.

Due probably to de-industrialization, the NDP has strongly reasserted itself in the belt of working class cities in southwest Ontario anchored by Hamilton-Welland in the east and Windsor in the West including London and Kitchener. It is running first in some polls of southwest Ontario. The NDP is now the clearly dominant party in northern Ontario and is close to total control. The correct decision is to support the NDP to finish off the Liberals in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie. The strategic voting direction would leave seats like T Bay and SSM to the Liberals, a big mistake.

This interactive map aids discussion.

http://www.cbc.ca/includes/provincialelections/ontariovotes2011/map/fullscreen.html

Strategic Voting may protect half descent moderate MPPs of the Jim Bradley, Dave Levac, Eric Hoskins variety but its simple minded formula also shielded right wing Liberals of the former Duncan, Bentley, Pupatello, Kwinter, Broten, variety. If you think we need more anti-labour legislation after 2014, too many Liberal seats encourages that outcome.

Option #4 The NDP was in deep third place in Kitchener Waterloo and London West after the 2011 election but managed to rocket from 3rd to 1st only a couple of years later. Bill 115 helped but was far from the only reason. B115 did send a message to all public sector workers from Kitchener to Windsor that the Liberals are quite prepared to throw former allies under the bus, the classic Bob Rae error. Even Mulroney knew ¡®you dance with the one who brung you¡¯. There are seats all over Ontario where a majority of voters have a big soft spot for the NDP but ¡®default¡¯ to the Liberals ¡®to keep the Tories out¡¯. When the Liberals disappoint them, their transition to the NDP can happen overnight. The public sector in Ontario is 22% of the vote. When it moves en mass things happen. Seats change hands.

Whereas Option#3 style Strategic Voting treats Liberals and New Democrats as interchangeable parts option #4 is different. The criteria would be as follows. If it is remotely possible for the NDP to take the seat, even against Liberal MPPs or from 3rd place, the NDP should be supported. Liberals only deserve support in seats where it is clear that the NDP can¡¯t possibly win AND it is close between the Liberals and Tories. The NDP ought to be supported in 35+ seats where it IS possible for them to come 1st while the Grits are confined to the role of blockers in possible Tory wins.

Naturally this is easier said than done. Some unions are NDP affiliated and therefore cannot support the Liberals. Public sector unions have divided memberships between Liberal, NDP and other parties even at the activist level. Unions have ¡®key players¡¯ who don¡¯t like whatever plan comes forward. Unions have members who are candidates in unwinnable ridings who still expect to be supported notwithstanding the serious stakes. Bad mistake.

This provincialism plays directly into the hands of the enemies of labour. Petty squabbles may land the entire movement with Premier Hudak and RTW legislation. Leadership requires leaders to say no once in a while notwithstanding internal pressures ¡®to go along to get along.¡¯ The stakes are too serious to say ¡°I understand the logic but this is my buddy and a member who is running in Upper Rubber Boot, where his party got 5% of the vote in 2011.¡±

The Little Education Report supports Option #4 which has the multiple benefits of blocking a Tory victory, and also blocking a Liberal anti-union majority. At absolute minimum, the Liberals deserve a time out if not a trip to the woodshed. Option #4 teaches the Grits that anti-labour legislation has very serious consequences. Option #4 recognizes that some Liberals may be better than a Tory but ALL New Democrats are better choices than ALL Liberals.

The best possible result in this election would resemble NDP 38 seats PC 35 Liberal 34. Option #4 modified Strategic Voting is the best way to get the best possible result. What would it look like? See below.

Western Ontario

Niagara Golden Horseshoe

City of Toronto

Eastern Ontario

Northern Ontario

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Past Issues

79th Edition of the Little Education Report !

78th Edition of the Little Education Report !

77th Edition of the Little Education Report !

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