Give Me Something to Vote *For*

In commenting on a previous post, Bag O'Wicks asks: "What really irks me is I have to choose someone because I firmly believe that a citizen should vote even if they spoil their ballot...but who? I don't want to end up voting for one party just to stop another from getting in...but it looks like that will be the case. Tell me what you are going to do?"

I think, as I did in the 2000 election, I'm going to vote with my heart. Rather than vote for the Liberals out of fear of the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance, I'm going to pick a party, or an individual MP, whose integrity and principles I respect, no matter how hopeless their cause seems to be. Heck, the only political party I've became a card-carrying member of was Mel Hurtig's centre-left grassroots National Party of Canada. In the 1993 election, I knew what futile principle meant.

In my heart, I am a Red Tory. I have a combination of Tory and Socialist principles. I believe there is a role for government in our society, addressing the needs of our poor, ensuring that everyone has equal access to the best tools (education) and aids (health care) to ensure a prosperous and happy life. I do not believe that the socialist vision of full equality is feasible, or even totally desirable, but the neo-conservative ideal of removing government from our lives lets us adrift on a stormy ocean, with only some people given access to the lifeboats.

I have tended to stay away from the Liberal party, even though they've positioned themselves in the Tory/Socialist middleground. I find too many of their number to be unprincipled and power hungry (just have a look at Chretien today). So, this produces an odd effect of me supporting the Progressive Conservatives in one election, and the New Democratic Party the next. I thought that Bob Rae (NDP) was an excellent premier for the province of Ontario. I seriously considered joining the provincial Conservative party to vote for Elizabeth Witmer. And there are Liberals I do support (like former Kitchener MP John English, and late Kitchener councillor Mike Wagner) who govern with the principle of an open mind.

So, in the next election, I am looking for a constructive, pragmatic, centre-left party or individual member of parliament, who governs itself with integrity, and promotes a fair society for the poor, for organized labour, for the environment, for our cities, for our farmers, and even for big business.

I'm still a free agent.

But I may join the New Democratic Party if Toronto City Councillor Jack Layton announces he's a candidate to become the next federal party leader. Since 1997, he has worked with Mayor Lastman to house the homeless. As president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, he has turned this organization into a credible political force advancing urban issues throughout Canada. He's bilingual (born in Quebec) and he'd be a drop of new blood on the federal scene. His ability to build coalitions between the centre and the left would be a boon for the NDP.

He just might get me excited about politics again.

Whatever the case, I will not be blackmailed into voting Liberal again. If the Liberals want my vote, they will have to earn it by showing that their government offers Canadians leadership, vision and integrity, not by shrugging and saying that the alternative is so much worse.

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