Canada will hold a federal election on Oct. 19, and if the polls are right, it might just tear the country apart. The majority left-leaning nation of 35 million people has been led since 2006 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, of the Conservative Party. In very loose terms, he is Canada’s answer to George W. Bush, a center-right pol from an oil-rich province accused of being hostile to science and to dissent at large. Because Canada has a multi-party system with a unified right-leaning party, Harper has won two terms as prime minister with Conservatives getting 36 percent of the national vote in 2006 and 38 percent in 2011. Most of the other 60-plus percent of the Canadian electorate would just as soon see him get bounced. But they’re splitting their votes between other national parties: the center-left Liberal Party (think: Hillary Clinton), the further-left New Democratic Party (think: Bernie Sanders), and small but dedicated Green Party. Canada right now is like “America with one Republican Party and three Democratic parties,” University of Toronto political science professor Christopher Cochrane tells me. “And it just doesn’t work.”
With national polls showing another likely slim plurality win for the Conservatives, the Canadian left is down to the dicey practice of crossing party lines, and maybe swapping votes. NDP partisans in strongly Liberal areas might agree to trade a vote to Liberals in areas likely to produce an NDP win, or they can eye polls and try to back whomever is running in front. It’s a utopian, data-driven attempt to elbow Conservatives out of Parliament, idealism as interpreted by Machiavelli.
To help, Hisham Abdel-Rahman, an IT programmer and consultant by trade, and a political activist by disposition, has established and organized the site strategicvoting.ca. On it, left-leaning voters can research whether they live in a riding (Canada’s version of a Congressional district) with a split-left vote. Then, they scheme.