Guest Post: 44 years and counting … Alvin Finkel asks, Can Alberta’s Tories be stopped?

Posted on March 17, 2015, 12:08 am
11 mins

ILLUSTRATIONS: Election time in Alberta. Actual Progressive Conservative strategists and Alberta voters may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Retired Athabasca University history professor Alvin Finkel.

A few months ago, I offered Alvin Finkel and a few other folks I respect the opportunity to write guest posts from time to time on what was then Alberta Diary and is now AlbertaPolitics.ca. Dr. Finkel is a retired and very prolific history professor who taught at Athabasca University for many years. He is one of Canada’s best-known and best-selling academic historians. He was the co-founder of the Alberta Democratic Renewal Project in 2008 and of Change Alberta in 2012. This is his first guest post. DJC

By Alvin Finkel

A week before the 2008 provincial election, my son, then a young unionized pipefitter, told me that he would not be voting on election day because he had to drive to Fort McMurray for work that day.

I pointed out that there was an advance poll that he could vote at before he left town. But he said that he would not bother. At work, the previous week, he told me, he had tried to start a conversation about the election but was cut off by someone who said: “When they call an election in Alberta, you already know who’s won. So change the channel.” Everyone apparently agreed.

FinkelSince the polls were predicting a crushing Tory victory, I saw little point in delivering a sermon to my son, who has progressive leanings but no great interest in politics, about the precious commodity that our right to vote represents. So I focused instead on the fact that he lived in Edmonton-Centre, where the Tories had failed to elect their candidate in every election since 1986 and which had both an excellent Liberal incumbent and a very promising NDP candidate as well. He wasn’t impressed, and suggested that neither of them would ever be in a government caucus and it was a waste of his time to pretend otherwise.

That conversation was a catalyst in my subsequent efforts to persuade the parties to the left of the Tories to work together to provide a real alternative to the Tories and thereby create some interest in an Alberta election by convincing voters, including the largely apolitical majority, that change was possible.

I could, in any case, barely tell apart the policies of the NDP and the Liberals in 2004 and 2008. The NDP had moved somewhat to the right in order to capture centrist votes and for a variety of reasons the Liberals had shifted slightly to the left. They largely met down the middle, although their leaders and many party members hated each other for various reasons important to them but very petty sounding to anyone outside of their respective clubs.

I began by simply writing an op-ed for the Edmonton Journal calling on the Liberals, NDP and Greens to work together to nominate one candidate between them in winnable constituencies. Interestingly, David Evans, then the editorial page editor of the Journal, told me that he liked my idea not so much because he necessarily opposed the Tories, but because many readers of the newspaper complained during elections about there being too much election coverage, the outcome of the election being so predictable. Subsequently a number of journalists have told me that election coverage and coverage of opposition parties between elections gets them flak from readers, listeners and viewers because there is no “story” to an Alberta election or to party politics in the minds of most Albertans.

In 2012, to the delight of the media, there was a story as two right-wing parties battled for control of the province. One of them, the governing Tories, had chosen a new leader who had the brilliant idea of pretending that the Tories had adopted many of the ideas of their progressive opponents.

She turned out, as anyone who understood the inner workings of the PCs would have figured out in advance, to be Lucy Van Pelt talking to progressive Albertans as if they were Charlie Brown hoping to kick the football. She had the desired effect on about half of them.

It didn’t have to be that way. Had the Alberta Democratic Renewal Project had more success in persuading the progressive parties to work together, a Leger poll demonstrated that almost a majority of voters, at least in 2010, were prepared to vote for their coalition. Change Alberta was formed for the 2012 election as a strategic voting site for progressive parties. Though it had 80,000 visitors and correctly predicted which progressive candidate would lead in 39 of the 42 seats it analyzed (a success rate of 93 per cent), it could not counter the views of many Albertans that the only two serious parties in the race were the Tories and Wildrose.

Will there be a story in the 2015 election?

So far there isn’t. It is true that the NDP now has a far better organizational presence than the Liberals, but that is more because the Liberals have allowed their organization to deteriorate than because there have been defections to the NDP. In fact, the NDP remains a party of about 4,000 people, the same number that it had in the past three elections. It has no organization at all in most seats. It has potential, no doubt, but no one seriously believes that the NDP on its own can knock off the Tories or indeed form a large opposition. To the dismay of the NDP, many polls still suggest that Liberal support rivals that of their own party despite the disarray of the Liberals.

A number of polls do indicate that the total support for parties to the left of the Tories equals or surpasses Tory support, and that most of that progressive vote is concentrated in the two cities.

Therein may lie the “story” for the upcoming election. If strategic voting can translate the progressive opposition vote into seats, the Tories could be ousted from power or at least be forced to face a far larger progressive opposition than they have confronted for some time.

Now, of course, many party members are opposed to strategic voting for various reasons. I have no intention any longer of trying to convince most of the 0.2 per cent of Albertans who have spent five bucks to hold a party card in one of the progressive parties that they should vote strategically. But I suspect that most of the remaining 44 per cent of voters who tell pollsters that they want to elect someone to the left of the Tories are open to strategic voting and more interested in getting rid of the Tories than in insuring that one or other of the left-of-Alberta-centre parties (none of which, as David Climenhaga reminded us recently, is all that left-wing over all) gets their votes.

In the days to come, ChangeAlberta.ca, which remains online, will launch its 2015 “new look.” Once again, we have assembled a large group of political analysts to follow “winnable” constituencies for progressives and predict which candidate in them has the best chance of winning. I am confident that once again we will correctly predict the leading progressive in virtually all winnable seats. (In the three of 42 seats where we were wrong last time, it turned out that the progressive vote had all but collapsed and making any prediction at all was a mug’s game.) Please join with us to try to give a “story” to this election and a future of somewhat greater social justice to a province that seems hopelessly stuck in its political past.

Because I was the public voice of Change Alberta, I was denied membership in the Alberta NDP in 2012, despite having been a member of the NDP from 1969 to 2010 and serving as Alberta co-chair of the Thomas Mulcair Election Committee in 2011-12. When I appealed the party’s decision to deny me membership, I was asked at the provincial council meeting by Rachel Notley, “Can you assure us that in the next election, Change Alberta will only endorse NDP candidates?” The answer was “no” and remains no.

27 Comments to: Guest Post: 44 years and counting … Alvin Finkel asks, Can Alberta’s Tories be stopped?

  1. Liz

    March 17th, 2015

    Having lived in this province for almost 40 years, I fall into the category of progressives whose vote is often referred to as not having counted, in all those intervening elections. So I see great merit in Change Alberta’s proposal and hope that many other like minded people will cast their vote for the progressive candidate with the best chance of winning in their riding.
    Obviously there are many Tory stronghold ridings, but there are many others that are available for a change. So let’s get the message out…….there is a real option to choose a solid progressive alternative. It’s not enough to keep splitting the vote and letting the Conservatives slip through again and again.
    Really, do you want to face 48 or 49 years of CONs ruling Alberta??!!

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      March 17th, 2015

      http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/albertas-left-wing-parties-need-to-get-their-shit-together-to-save-the-province-from-itself-263

      excerpt: Mount Royal University policy studies chair Duane Bratt, for instance, suggests that the NDP are on the verge of a breakout in Edmonton and a few downtown Calgary ridings, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to cooperate.

      Also, he says that the issue of vote splitting is confined to a few urban ridings, and such efforts don’t address the rural success that the farther-right Wildrose Party had in 2012.

      =====================

      If Bratt’s view is accurate, Conservatives are not slipping through between a split progressive vote in very many ridings. And so strategic voting, or some form cooperation/merger will not likely be sufficient on their own.

      Proportional representation is likely the necessary change to give AB’s reason to consistently vote for their interests and thus overcome the hold of Big $$$ plied by the right, centre-right, and the wealthy/petro-elite to control AB politics.

      And of course that’s a huge hill to climb.

      Reply
  2. Pam

    March 17th, 2015

    Growing up in Alberta, with each passing provincial election I would find more reasons to hope that something might actually *change* one day… but 35 years later under the same ruling party, I’m running out of patience. It would take a miracle…. or a new strategy anyway. Why are those of us who identify as ‘progressives’ so reluctant to try pragmatic cooperation on for size? I don’t think at this point we have much to lose….

    Reply
  3. Greg Francis

    March 17th, 2015

    Thank you for the well reasoned column Mr. Finkel. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By this definition, the NDP and any other political party that believes it can form government in Alberta, yet refuses to unite with other anti-PC parties in the next election (or at least endorse strategic voting), is insane.

    Reply
  4. Athabascan

    March 17th, 2015

    You ask, “Will there be a story in the 2012 election?” I think that should be 2015 no?

    I agree with many of the NDP policies. However, there is no denying the party is led/run by entrenched ideologues who are left wing political fanatics. I’ve commented many times on this blog that if the NDs cared about Alberta they would cooperate with the other parties to make it right. Making it right entails throwing the PC bums out of office, or at the very least making sure there is a powerful and effective opposition.

    Alas, the NDs are motivated by delusionary thinking fuelled by their fanaticism and ego. In that sense they are no different than the PCs. The result being that we are all doomed to servitude at the hands of the oil and gas elites in Alberta.

    The only solution I can come up with is voting with my feet and moving the fuck out of Alberta – sorry.

    Reply
  5. theo

    March 17th, 2015

    I have always identified myself as a social democrat and thus, been pro NDP. Since moving to Calgary in 1986 it became, over the years, patently obvious voting NDP federally was nothing more than a wasted vote. Provincially though, I began to vote for the Liberal candidate and, on occasion, see that person elected. As well, I have seen a Liberal candidate lose by mere hundreds of votes and the third running NDP candidate get a couple of thousand. In the past two federal elections I have voted for the Liberal candidate as well and I really don’t like the Liberal Party. Certainly in some federal Calgary ridings, a Liberal candidate has a chance to win if vote splitting does not occur.

    Why Parties, federally and provincially cannot see the wisdom of cooperation is beyond me as well, Pam.

    It saddens and infuriates me to learn the provincial NDP were so rigid that you were denied NDP membership in 2012 and upheld that ruling under appeal. Does that still hold true, professor Finkel?

    Reply
    • Alvin Finkel

      March 17th, 2015

      Theo, I was told at the time that I could apply to rejoin if I promised to only support NDP candidates for election in all constituencies. I won’t do that. I was also told to stop suggesting that there are constituencies in which the NDP does not have real constituency associations and good candidates. In fact, it is the NDP that admits–when the law requires it– that they do not have constituency associations in most constituencies (it is the case for the Liberals as well). Each year they have to report various things to Elections Alberta including the name of the president and treasurer of each constituency association. That’s not a difficult test to meet. If you have two warm bodies in a room to declare themselves party members, you can persuade one of them to let their name come forward as the association president and the other one to be named as treasurer. But the NDP could not pass that test in more than a third of constituency associations across the province last year. Instead they used the party executive director as the association president and the party’s office secretary as the treasurer–or the reverse. In short, I can be readmitted to the NDP as a member if I park my brains and my conscience at the front door. No thanks, I prefer to be a non-partisan though in practice as a resident of Strathcona, I do vote NDP provincially and federally. But those are indeed strategic votes and thankfully for excellent representatives of whom I am very proud despite their strident and childish views on cooperation with other parties.

      Reply
  6. Redneckred

    March 17th, 2015

    In the last two provincial elections, many Albertans “voted strategically” for Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford. Look how well that turned out. In fact, In principle, at least, it’s hard to see how Professor Finkel’s proposal differs from the argument that the best way to oppose/defeat the loony right (Ted Morton, WildRose, etc) is to work from inside the Tory party to restore the battered and moribund
    “Lougheed” Tories.
    In a reply to a post earlier this week, I argued that the attempts to unite the left (or the centre-left, or the soggy middle, or whatever) were likely to be unsuccessful in producing electoral wins, but successful in reducing the political choices available to Albertans and impoverishing political dialogue in the province.
    A campaign to encourage strategic voting could all too easily end up as an exercise in triangulation from below. Bill Clinton would be so proud!

    Reply
  7. K. Larsen

    March 17th, 2015

    After almost 80 years as a single-party authoritian state Alberta’s first-past-the-post elections have very little democratic legitimacy so hats off to Change Alberta for trying to fix this.

    May I suggest that Change Alberta might consider helping Albertans choose who they will strategically vote for by holding their own (perhaps online) vote based on a preferential ballot before the next official election? Each participant numerically ranks their preferred candidate, the bottom candidate is dropped and their voters second preference gets those votes. Then Change Alberta’s recommendation would have some democratic legitimacy in addition to the informed academic judgement previously provided.

    This voting system worked so well in farmer elections to the Canadian Wheat Board Harper killed the whole thing when he found his Astroturf candidates could not get elected. If my memory serves (help Mr. Finkel!) Social Credit experimented with this and killed it since they did not like the results.

    Reply
    • Jordan Hupka

      March 18th, 2015

      K. Larsen,

      Not sure about Social Credit supporting preferential ballot, but Alberta did use the single transferable vote system in Edmonton and Calgary after the UFA government implemented it for the 1926 election. I believe Social Credit switched urban ridings back to first-past-the-post sometime in the mid-1950s. That might be what you were thinking about.

      Dr. Finkel would surely know more and may well correct me, though.

      Reply
  8. SHAKE UP ALBERTA

    March 17th, 2015

    Thank you for running this guest column! The cost of burying our heads by focusing on centre/left party differences is too high to ignore the need to change our approach. Countries all over the world have figured out how to build coalitions before elections to oust a governing party. Before we reach an openness to that logical strategy, voting strategically is next best option.

    In the last election, ChangeAlberta made its criteria for identifying the ‘most winnable candidate’ transparent. Candidates deserve respect for their hard work but we have to be realistic about how we defeat the Tories rather than split progressive votes in winnable constituencies. Voters ultimately make a personal decision; making an informed decision leads to strategic choices.

    Reply
  9. Phil Elder

    March 17th, 2015

    When electoral cooperation options were debated before the 2012 election, I was so disappointed at the New Democrats’ absolute refusal to consider same that I resigned from the party. (I was a 30 year member and its former candidate for Calgary-Mountain View in 1982.) Instead, I spent my time working with Alvin Finkel and other stalwarts in the Democratic Renewal Project.
    To our disappointment, cooperation didn’t happen, so we had to recommend strategic voting for the apparently strongest progressive candidate in 42 Electoral Divisions. We were right in 39 of them, but progressives got burned when strategic votes switched to the PCs under Allison Redford in order to defeat Wildrose and its bozo eruptions about the “lake of fire.”
    This time things are different. There is increased grassroots support for cooperation, even in the NDP and I think Laurie Blakeman’s troika initiative will be picked up by others. Otherwise, vote splitting will demolish any hope of having a critical mass of progressive MLAs in the house. Those who fail to cooperate may then have some explaining to do.
    I am now a member of the Green Party of Alberta, but where that party isn’t on the ballot, I will cheer loudly when new NDP members win (except in Calgary-Mountain View, where their running may endanger the re-election of my MLA David Swann, for whom I shall vote).

    Reply
  10. Phil Burpee

    March 17th, 2015

    Strategic voting has a sullied history mainly because of what most people remember as various ‘anybody-but-so-and-so’ motifs of attempting to gerrymander voting patterns. This is a bad way to do politics, and is thus rightly reviled as being both negative in spirit and tactically inclined towards a politic of despair. It need not be so. The positive and proactive position can be found within the defining principle of democracy itself, which is not, as is so often perceived, to merely arrange for a blunt ‘dictatorship of the majority’ – as all too often results within Westminster-style parliamentary governance. But rather, democracy much more accurately serves as a vessel within which a constant dynamism of shift and compromise serves to best reflect societal evolution and the ever-transforming realities of a world in flux and often confusing disarray. Philosophical leanings aside, the true purpose of electoral politics from a party-political viewpoint is to get your hands on the buttons and levers of power. Any politician who claims solely the higher road of moral purpose should be viewed with a squinty-eyed jaundice. It is all about power, and the concomitant wielding of same. I ascribe to the leftist notion most succinctly encapsulated by Frank H. Underhill – viz. that “the basic principle regulating production, distribution and service must be the common good rather than private profit.” Accordingly, I have a long history of voting for the social democratic party of the day. However, if this were the 43rd year of an NDP administration in this province, my impulse would be the same as it is under current conditions. Too much time in power necrotizes policy advancement, instills a habituated and overly-compliant governmental bureaucracy, assures a dangerous coziness with various vested interests, and, perhaps most importantly and egregiously, disaffects voters for whom the whole purpose of electoral politics withers, as it were, on the choking vine of cynicism and a sense of creeping disenfranchisement. Party-partisan politics can and should be put aside at certain junctures in the political life of any jurisdiction – municipal, provincial or national. Such a juncture has surely arrived for Alberta. It is high time to disassemble the current legislative administration and replace it with a mechanism more acutely attuned to both the changing demographic of this province, and the rapidly changing face of rights and responsibilities within an increasingly volatile global community. Party members must speak loudly to their leadership and give voice to the obvious – business as usual is no business at all, for as the oft-quoted quip from Albert Einstein would have it – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Opt for change in Alberta. Lean on the status quo till it tips. Vote smart, vote savvy. Check in with ChangeAlberta and pick the progressive candidate most likely to prevail. Close your ears to the miserable bleatings of traditional parochial interests. Our democracy belongs to us – not just to the fixers and the trolls.

    Reply
  11. Josh

    March 17th, 2015

    Sadly the NDs have refused any form of electoral cooperation. Upon talking with them they say they can cooperate after the elections. So what I gather from this is that they refuse to work with other opposition parties during the election to help elect a strong opposition, but will want the PCs to work with them when they have the PCs another majority government.

    The NDs may have different policies but they act the exact same way as the PCs, arrogant.

    Reply
  12. March 17th, 2015

    On the topic of exploring and developing strategic voting that works in the best

    interests of the 50%+1 or greater majority in any voting district, this article by

    Alvin Finkel together with several commentators is among the very best I have

    seen. What follows for your review is my synthesis of the best of the best found

    here!

    Building on Alvin Finkel’s solid food for thought article, in my view Phil Burpee

    does an excellent job of defining the true purpose of democracy including the

    abuses of our Westminster party system until he unfortunately switches focus

    from the people’s best interests to that of our partisan parties best interests.

    Here too I agree with his analyses of power politics except for the notion that

    political parties are the critical path by which citizens can achieve democratic

    government. That is, partisan parties have a monopoly on democracy. Once put

    that way the fallacy of argument seems visibly more apparent.

    Through the school of hard knocks, both Alvin Finkel and Phil Elder underline the

    fact that progressive parties miss the democratic boat when they demand from

    supporters that their party has a monopoly on democracy. I applaud both of them

    for moving on. However while I agree 100% with almost all that Phil Elder stated

    towards advancing the best of strategic voting he ends up shooting both his

    argument and potential strategic voters in the foot when he concludes he will be

    supporting “my MLA David Swann”.

    This conundrum can be resolved politely, democratically and equitably towards

    the best interests of any voting district including Swann’s by doing what K.

    Larsen recommends. Namely conduct a pre-vote preferential vote123 poll.

    Doing so would be equate to a full and open invitation for the progressive NDP

    to join forces with Phil Elder and his Liberal counterpart to see which candidate

    can garner the support of 50%+1 of the electorate. I would add this vote should

    be restricted to only registered voters in that district. This limitation becomes a

    community self-organising tool to get non-voters and non-registered voters to

    participate and thereby actually increase the size of the progressive vote on

    voting day. The further reason for doing a peoples poll is that it adds authenticity

    and further community buy-in.

    Where do I come in on this? I hale from Manitoba as a prairie farmer who

    independent of you has come to these observations however lack the skill in

    building a website to accommodate a full public democratic forum for any

    district, which once built can easily be replicated for any other unique voting

    district. Perhaps the movers and shakers of http://changealberta.ca would be

    interested in some form of collaborations as a district wide vote123 vote need

    not be anywhere as daunting as it might appear. I can be reached through
    http://www.eduardhiebert.com/ereform/v123p.htm

    Reply
  13. Expat Albertan

    March 17th, 2015

    I think that it is worth reminding everyone that coalitions of non-NDP parties consistently get elected in B.C. (the BC Liberal Party) and Saskatchewan (the Saskatchewan Party). Somehow, the conservative/conservative-centre element in those two provinces have figured out that, on their own, they cannot beat the NDP so have joined together in a coalition (notwithstanding the vestigial elements of the ‘original’ parties, such as the Conservative Party of B.C., which is like an appendix that does nothing of consequence). I think Albertans should remind their NDP and Liberal parties of this fact ; good luck Prof. Finkel.

    Reply
  14. TOM PRIESTLY

    March 17th, 2015

    I agree with almost everything written so far. I have voted liberal (Kilgour was a good guy) and NDP (Duncan is one, too) and joined both of the 2 federal parties, temporarily, to vote for the candidates for leadership who announced a willingness to co-operate (Murray, Cullen). Now, like Phil Elder, I am Green — provincially and federally — but will vote for the leading non-Tory candidates. I would put it even more strongly than, I believe, anyone so far: those who vote for a non-Tory party on “principle” are betraying their province ~ country. This seems to me so very obvious that it hurts. I have used this phrase before: dyed-in-the-wool is dead in the water — and brain-dead.

    Reply
  15. Jerrymacgp

    March 18th, 2015

    While the so-called “progressive” parties slug it out in E-town, as well as some parts of Calgary & perhaps Lethbridge, and there may be value in some form of electoral cooperation there to kick out the Tories, out here in the hinterland (Grande Prairie-Wapiti, in my case), I see no hope for anything different after the next election, or the next, or the next after that. Voter turnouts are so low, I think only card-carrying lifelong Tories actually bother casting a vote.

    I think the breakneck pace of life in the oilpatch may be an insidious form of voter suppression. Nobody in the work force has time to think about politics, or get informed about elections, so they don’t vote. Maybe if Election Day were a form of statutory holiday, on which only essential health care and public safety employees (and of course Election workers) would be allowed to be at work, we might see something different. But really, I despair for the future of this one-party state.

    Reply
  16. George Melnyk

    March 18th, 2015

    I worked with Alvin (and Phil Elder) on the Democratic Renewal Project in the previous provincial election, first around co-operation and then strategic voting. I am pleased that ChangeAlberta.ca continues that tradition. Why? Because there is a growing concern about the one-party state syndrome that we suffer from. How to mobilize that concern into a new government is what ChangeAlberta.ca is all about. As a petro-province (state) the current collapse in oil and gas prices, if it lasts long enough, may be the catalyst that Albertans need to force a change. A diversified economy means that the oil patch becomes less influential and that is the opportunity that needs to be grasped. But can the current configuration of opposition parties be the answer? What may be needed after this election, which Prentice will win, is discussion of unification. What Laurie Blakeman announced she is doing in Edmonton, by representing three opposition parties (Liberals, Greens, Alberta) is a precursor of what may be required.

    Reply
  17. anonymous

    March 18th, 2015

    I am a member of the provincial liberal party in St Albert & I hope to god that we don’t run a candidate & help support the strong! NDP candidate Renaud.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      March 19th, 2015

      You’ve just demonstrated the point I made above. All non-PC parties in AB don’t give a shit about the people of Alberta. Your note makes clear they all place their own selfish political and personal aspirations above those of Albertans. You are all as bad as the PCs in that sense.

      If you want to defeat the PCs, for the good of the people, then you MUST cooperate – if only briefly. You children can’t even do that, so the rest of us suffer as a result. What a shame.

      Reply
      • anonymous

        March 19th, 2015

        Hey now Athabascan, you are confusing me! Are you implying that as a Liberal party paid member in St Alberta, I should not throw my support behind NDP candidate Renaud? By the way I am on the Executive of the St Alberta Association. No way we can get as strong a candidate as Renaud. Or are you suggesting that I support someone other than an NDP candidate… which seems to run contrary to your original statement above?

        Reply
        • Athabascan

          March 20th, 2015

          There is no need for confusion. I am clearly and explicitly advocating that all Non PC parties (with the exception of wildrose who are essentially ultra-PCs) band together and support one another in order to elect MLAs to the legislature who are not PCs.

          Whether you are a liberal supporter or ND is irrelevant to me. Field one candidate per riding who is most likely to win – irrespective of whether he/she is a liberal or otherwise. If that means that in certain ridings there are no liberals running, because the NDs have a better chance then so be it. In other ridings it may be the case that NDs shouldn’t run candidates either so that a Liberal can win.

          It’s about the need to eliminate vote splitting – what part of that is confusing? Maybe what’s confusing you is the concept of cooperation between political partiers for the betterment of the provinces. Perhaps, that is a foreign concept to you.

          Reply
  18. Outwest

    March 20th, 2015

    Thank you for your clear logic on the matter, Dr. Finkel. I, like many, am dismayed by the Alberta NDP’s purblind intransigence in the matter of cooperation.

    Rachel Notley is a keen disappointment. My hunch is that she is acting out of some misguided sense of loyalty to the party, but someone should let her know that such a strategy isn’t loyal, it’s illogical, myopic, selfish, and, at the end of the day, disloyal to Alberta. Sad for her personally, but sadder for progressive Albertans who deserve wiser leadership…

    Reply
  19. Eduard Hiebert

    March 20th, 2015

    Further to my earlier posting I find this ongoing discussion on strategic informative and impressive! Not only about teasing out the finer merits of voting this way but seeing first hand how several commentators on the basis of new found enlightened self-interest convictions, with strength and temerity stating that regardless of their party affiliation or preference, at their local poll, they will vote for the progressive candidate most preferred by that district’s majority so as not to split their vote and be left with zero voice in who will be DECLARED elected!

    Towards more effective strategic voting ChangeAlberta’s track record of accurately predicting the winnable candidate in 39 out of 42 districts is inspiring! However this still represents a needless loss of 3 when within a people’s run bottom-up democracy even one is too many!

    Every community has more elbowgrease than money. In a bottom-up community drive relying on elbow grease a pre-vote123 poll is not only possible, but invites a total community buy-in to determine the community’s true preferences, not on the bases of rear-view mirror driving regarding the last election but the current one with the current crop of candidates! Only a community vote123 poll can determine which one is truly preferred. And with this information vote most powerfully and most strategically on voting day.

    Within this context I will highlight and rephrase Phil Burpee’s comments on the true purpose of democracy. In essence I heard him say there are two kinds of power, top down which is what the parties advance and bottom-up peoples’ power. However, in the exploitation of the people’s conflicted loyalties towards achieving top-down power Diefenbacher, likely to his chagrin afterward, he then already stated in some districts he could run a yellow dog and have it elected! In short top-down partisan party power. The strength, power and aim of strategic voting is bottom-up all the way!

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    March 20th, 2015

    David, I would first of all like to thank you for having Alvin Finkel generate this discussion. Quickly, does it really matter what the current ‘leaders’ of the moderately left political parties think & say about stategic voting? They are becoming increasingly redundant and wholly parochial. The problem is that they invite further cynicism by refusing to demonstrate some practical vision and they live this existential political life that suggests that this ‘crazy’ righteous path is all that matters and that somehow moral victories are good. This is akin to improverished people thinking that it is ‘God’ will for them to be poor and that their suffering will be atoned in the afterlife. Whew.. this is delusional thinking and you can just imagine how the captains of industry and government here in the Province just love that kind of gibberish! Simply, the reality is that we a have a ‘first past the post’ system… so ‘leaders’ get with it!… this political blood sport is not about junior partners fighting it out amongst each other… it is about showing real leadership and vision in offering a great majority of folks here in Alberta a practical and reality based option to the current regime. Learn how to fight!!

    Reply
  21. March 21st, 2015

    I came to this understanding when I was sitting around the NDP “victory party” of 2012(I had helped out through volunteering and financially). I looked around and saw 4 elected MLA’s being treated like rock stars and thought what the hell are you so happy about? Yes I understand your expectations were for 4 or 5 seats, wow so you reached your lowly goal. The story of 2015 should be one of the tory elephant being beaten down by a public that is sick of their games. They are not going to raise taxes on corporations or the oil field or replace the flat tax. All the talk Prentice has about looking at all options is hot air. The option is to carbon copy the Klein era. The story should be that the 45% of Albertan voters who are progressive look at the options in their riding and choose the progressive candidate with the best chance. This is not some intellectual experiment this is cuts, services lost, and wages being rolled back. If we can elect 30 MLA’S to say no along with the other progressive movements we have a chance of stopping the prentice de- evolution. If we elect 4 socialist princes and 2 liberal lords they will roll over us and we will be lucky to get the crumbs. But then the .2% of the party tribes can feel better while the rest of us suffer. Klein was able to get away with what he did because the public had it in it’s mind we needed major cuts (liberals couldn’t critique what they advocated). If the progressives vote strategically we can show the dukes of tory land if they want to fight the progressives, while leaving the powers at be alone, we will be their in the hundreds of thousands with our large opposition in the house and we will be able to strongly influence the public and they will have no choice but to compromise.

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