Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Stephen Harper and the By-election Message Progressives Cannot Ignore
You'd think Stephen Harper would have been cheered by his two by-election victories in Ontario and Alberta.
But he wasn't. In the Commons yesterday he was tense and irritable.
And with good reason. For when you examine the results closely you can see that hidden in them are the seeds of his own destruction.
For in this riding in Ontario, like in other by-elections, the trends are ominous.
Not only is his support falling, while Liberal support is rising. But because the NDP is also fading, he may not be able to count on a strong showing from that party to divide the vote.
Which could prove fatal, because in many ridings he cannot hope to win without it.
But unfortunately there is also an important message for progressives in that bye-election result, one which if we do not heed could also prove fatal.
And it is that even without vote splitting, we could still lose if not enough progressives bother to cast a ballot.
Yet even draining the NDP of all but its most core base vote in this typical red-blue race in the 905 East, the Liberals were unable to pass the Conservatives, who again confounded Forum Research as they had done so many other pollsters in Ontario during the last federal election campaign with a substantial ballot-box bonus.
In other words, even though the Liberals have been successful in completely rebooting their field operations and adopting more modern campaign techniques for voter targeting, identification and GOTV, the Conservative ground game is still superior in Ontario and well capable of getting the job done, in spite of the Liberals' superior penetration of the media spin game.
And this trend is deeply troubling.
At 31.8%, the turnout in Whitby-Oshawa was as bad as that of Trinity-Spadina last June, and Yellowhead's 16.1% was nothing to crow about either after last summer's 15.4% in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. This means we have now had 3 by-elections with under 20% turnout in all of Canadian federal electoral history, all in the last six months.
We've seen what happened in the United States when large numbers of progressives didn't bother to vote in the recent Congressional elections.
We know the RepubliCons in this country are doing everything they can to suppress the vote.
From changing the election rules to favour themselves, to their filthy robocalls...
So we surely must know that it could happen here.
Which only reinforces my belief that if we are to defeat them, as we must, NOTHING is more important than getting out that vote.
I'm still confident that will happen. That on the day of decision the desire for change will overwhelm everything else.
But if we are to be sure to succeed, progressives must go after those complacent Canadians more aggressively than they ever have before. The Cons have made sure the Chief Returning Officer can't encourage Canadians to vote.
So we must do it ourselves, from the beginning to the end of the campaign with a message as simple as this one...
One that both inspires and SHOCKS.
For those who would sleepwalk to disaster must be brutally awakened. And the choice facing us couldn't be simpler.
If we fail the Cons could still win.
If we succeed we will crush them...
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