Hi! This might be an odd question, but come the next federal election I'll be voting for the first time. I know it's a bit far off, but I'm wondering where I could find good information on who to vote for. Definitely not Harper, but I'm not sure between the NDP and the Liberals- I trust Mulcair most as a person, but I'm not sure he knows what he's doing, and I just can't take Trudeau seriously. Should I look more my specific MP? Or just go anyone-but-Harper? I'd appreciate any thoughts, please!
In terms of basics, try apathyisboring.com which gives you a rundown of the parties and pretty great glossary of terms if you’re unfamiliar with the details of the electoral system and/or the issues that might be relevant to how you cast your vote.
You may find that you prefer to vote for a particular party (in which case you should go toeachmajorparty’swebsite to (try to) figure out their platform and whether their aims most closely align with your interests), the party’s leader (be sure that whether mulcair-as-a-person actually matters to your vote’s representation in parliament), or the MP in your area you want actually representing you in the legislature. Closer to the election a vote compass will show up on CBC that may help you figure out where your issues place you among the major parties. The research on the vote compass says there’s a strong Liberal bias, but everyone I have talked to who tested out their views landed unrealistically far left on the compass (mind you, that probably says more about the company I keep more than anything else) – either way it’s probably best to do the research and figure out where you’re situated independently of the vote compass.
Personally, although my views align most closely with another party, I vote NDP because I live in an NDP stronghold (this is not necessarily an endorsement). I vote for my MP, the individual. She represents issues that are important to me. I care a less about her party affiliation as I do about what she represents and how she represents it, and I’m only happy with what she’s done for our riding. I’m not sorry she’s NDP (it’s the right choice for her alignment) and the fact that she’s now part of the merry band of official opposition is a bonus, but that’s not what motivates my vote.
When I lived in the suburbs, though, where the Conservatives had a stronger grasp, I voted for the most competitive alternative party just to keep them out. Meanwhile, my parents live in a really solid Conservative stronghold, and they consistently vote for the 3rd and 4th ranked parties in the area (respectively) – not because they’re competitive, but because the party most closely represents their views. Ideally, I think, this is how a democracy is supposed to work – you vote for whomever is going to best represent your views.
But as this is not an ideal democracy, there are lots of other approaches. You can vote for the party leader you find most trustworthy (a vote for Elizabeth May is NEVER a vote wasted in my view) (this IS an endorsement) (just from me, I can’t vouch for my fellow blogrunners), for the party politics you prefer (you might hate your MP but hate the leader of another party/the country more), or – not cast a vote at all.
You’ll hear a lot of rhetoric about how you can’t pass up your opportunity to participate in our great democracy, blah blah, but another totally valid option is to conscientiously not vote. Not voting out of apathy isn’t ideal, but the majority of the population occupies unceded territory, and objecting to the whole imperialist model that is the entire governmental/electoral system is absolutely a valid choice. You can object for a whole lot of reasons, and loudly not-voting after giving it a lot of thought is absolutely not apolitical.
You also have the option of spoiling your ballot in objection to the available options. But if you want to vote for a representation, there are a lot of factors to consider.