Saturday, April 14, 2007

A hunger to win in Central Nova

When I wanted to help out with the provincial election campaign at the age of sixteen, my father drove me out of our riding to another one where he knew the Liberals would not win. He handed me over to someone he knew saying, in essence, here’s a healthy young pair of legs to run around for you, but I want them back after the campaign so try not to let the kid get lost.

On the way over my dad told me that it was a tough riding, the Liberals had no chance of winning it and not to repeat to anyone what he had just told me. Although the people in the riding knew quite well that they wouldn’t win, it’s not something that they would want to hear said out loud. Working the door-to-door in a poor, politically unfriendly riding, he argued, would force me to become a real grit, teach me not to take voters for granted and give me a hunger to win. We lost. Big time.

There was one upset victory in that riding a couple of elections later. I don’t live there anymore.

I won’t pretend that the dynamic in the riding of Central Nova is the same, though I suspect that telling the good Liberals there they can’t win would not be something they would welcome hearing publicly. Who knows what might happen in the next election against Peter MacKay.

On the other hand, I was struck by May saying yesterday that she did not want to be the Ralph Nader of Canadian politics, shaving off far-left votes from the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, and allowing a George W. Bush victory. The United States would be in a much better place right now if the divisive, hyper-partisan George War Bush had not been elected.

There is a good chance that strategic Green votes in the rest of the country could tip the next federal election in our favour.

Despite the full blast melodrama coming out of the media over this, each side of the argument about Central Nova is a respectable calculation of risk. Maybe it's better not to rush to judgement on Stephane Dions' leadership just yet.


Anonymous said...

If what you say in your post is true, you have actually worked on a federal campaign, at the riding level. Tell me, then, how you think the 10 300 + Liberal voters of Central Nova, not to mention the drivers, scrutineers, doorknockers, donors, sign crews, lunch runners, etc. are going to react to being told 1) you can't win; and 2) your labours count for so little we aren't even going to allow you to be loyal Liberals in the next election. Instead, you should all, because the great leader says so, support the team that mustered fewer than 620 votes last time out, that couldn't convince anyone to doorknock, donate, cold call, GOTV, etc.

Without even getting into the disservice this does to ALL Central Nova electors--whose ballot will now sport only one name that might be part of a government--I feel that such extraordinary disrespect will have powerful consequences that extend beyond Central Nova and the next election. An arrogant gesture by a man who has never had to work on the ground for his own riding will, I predict, 1) lead to the biggest MacKay margin ever, with the plurality of the LPC vote going blue rather than Green; 2) produce a 3rd place finish for Ms May (and I wonder how her grassroots feel now ... but that big middle finger to the sincerely motivated rank and file is fodder for another comment); 3) negatively impact LPC vote in other Nova Scotia ridings (e.g. Dartmouth-Cole Harbour and West Nova, where Thibault was a near thing last time out); and 4) seriously compromise LPC efforts to find credible candidates and requisite volunteer pools in elections to come.

To my mind, this was a monumental mistake and bespeaks a leader who just doesn't understand how elections works and whose labour wins them.



Aaron said...

Hi Anonymous,

I am not from Nova Scotia. My post was about a hunger to win and making the sometimes difficult calculations about how to get there. The good Liberals of Central Nova will need to ask themselves and each other what it is that they want to win. I am trying not to jumpt to conclusions like so many drama queens in the media.

I agree with you in parts, but that should be clear from what I wrote. Maybe you could reread my post and think more about what I am trying to say. Then we could have a better discussion.

Sean Shaw said...

The fact that people felt compelled to vote for Nader shouldn't cast the man in a negative light. What it should have done is demonstrate to the Democrats (and the Republicans, to a lesser extent) that they needed to change their policies to encompass those who did not feel inclined to vote for them.

Sure if the voters who sided with Nader had gone to Gore instead we wouldn't have Bush, but that's democracy and the minute you start trying to limit it (in its already extremely limited form here in NA) you are headed down a slippery slope.

The same analogy can be applied to the Liberal/NDP split here in Canada for the past few decades. Many Liberals decry that the NDP is costing them votes and if they would only vote Liberal things would be better (such as no Harper). However, maybe they should stop and really think about why 15-20% of the voting population doesn't want to vote for their policies and adjusting accordingly?