Voters in Toronto Centre appear to fear a Conservative majority so much that in the run-up to the Oct. 14 federal election they’re urging people to vote strategically to block Stephen Harper from claiming his prize.
That theme rang loud and clear at an all-candidates debate held Sept. 29 in the downtown Toronto riding.
Karen Mundy, a resident in the riding, summed up the mood in the Liberal stronghold.
“I’m scared. I’m really afraid that the Conservatives are going to get a majority,” she said. “It’ll be a disaster for the environment. They don’t care about the environment,” she said.
Communist Party candidate Johan Boyden called a potential Tory majority “a lethal embrace.”
And after a statement from Tory candidate David Gentili that his party was strong on the environment, the Greens reacted quickly.
“I want to congratulate David for completely disagreeing with his party,” said Chris Tindal, who was standing in for Green candidate Ellen Michelson. “But I want to remind him what happened to other Tory members who disagreed with their party.”
Since taking power, the Harper government has ousted Tory MPs Garth Turner and Bill Casey after those men disagreed with party policy.
The Liberals have held this riding since Bill Graham won it in 1993. Former Ontario premier and provincial New Democratic Party leader Bob Rae, now a federal Liberal, took the seat in a by-election earlier this year in which he received more votes than all the other parties combined.
But even if Rae will almost certainly win the riding, explained Animal Alliance candidate Liz White in her opening remarks, a vote for her small party is not wasted.
“You can send a strong message to the government that you take animal rights issues seriously,” she said.
The Animal Alliance Party focuses on the promotion of animal protection policies. It has four candidates running in this campaign.
Boyden echoed White’s sentiment, saying that even though Rae is going to win, you can still send a message to Parliament by voting for the party that most reflects your own values.
Mundy disagreed: “All you’re doing is helping the far right get in,” she admonished Boyden. “But you are cute.”
Her view reflects a sentiment shared by a growing number of people worried about a Harper majority: if the non-Conservative vote is being shared among various left-wing parties, then the likelihood that Conservatives will win more seats, and a majority, increases.
One website, voteforenvironment.ca, suggests a Harper majority would amount to disaster for the environment and concerned voters should vote strategically to avoid that.
It suggests that by voting “smart”, voting for the leading non-Conservative candidate in each riding, a projected Tory win would be turned into a Liberal minority.
For his part, Rae doesn’t take his win for granted. “Unlike at least two of my opponents,” Rae said, referring to Boyden and White, “I have no idea whether I’m going to win this election.”