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.