An online campaign to strategically cast ballots in support of the environment could affect the outcome of the federal election, according to a new website.
Voteforenvironment.ca aims to avoid vote-splitting among left-of-centre voters, suggesting the divided opposition could help push the Conservatives to another election win.
Stephen Harper's Conservative government has a "terrible record on the environment," said website co-creator Kevin Grandia.
Every political party except the Conservatives has a serious plan to mitigate climate change, according to the site, which launched Tuesday night.
By Wednesday afternoon the site had already attracted more than 3,000 visitors, Grandia said.
Grandia said the numbers suggest to him that there is an appetite among Canadians to go beyond voting along party lines and to think about larger issues.
"The environment has never been as top of mind as it is this election," he said. "There are things people can do with their vote to bring about real change."
Polls used to make voting recommendations
The site asserts that those who are concerned about the environment are in the majority and that they must work across party lines if they want to see the Conservatives defeated in the Oct. 14 election.
Visitors to the site are encouraged to cast their ballots for the candidate that is most environmentally conscious in their riding.
The site lists 60 key ridings as seats that could have been won by the NDP, Bloc Québécois or Liberals in 2006 if at least one-third of those parties' supporters had instead voted for the leading opposition party in their riding.
Green party candidates and Independents are also considered on the site.
Visitors can sort through all of Canada's ridings and look at what potential outcomes could be, based on current poll results from Nanos, EKOS and Decima. It then provides a suggestion for the best candidate to vote for be based on the numbers and their environmental records.
Recommendations are not provided in ridings where it is clear the Conservatives will take a majority of the vote and forums are available for the public to discuss how the ballots should be cast.
By avoiding a split in the vote of the political left, Canada could see a change in government, Grandia said.
"If you can just convince enough people to vote strategically and concentrate their votes on the candidate most likely to beat the Conservatives, I think we have a real chance," he said.
Online tools are playing a bigger role in politics and Canadians are becoming much more savvy about how to use the tools to bring forward issues and change, Grandia said.
"I'm confident it [the site] will have a huge impact," he said.
Grandia acknowledged that strategic voting can be controversial.
Strategic voting accepted practice: official
But Elections Canada spokesman David Rutherford said there is nothing illegal about encouraging people to vote strategically for certain candidates.
But he said voters should be wary of organized strategic voting.
"You have to be cautious, because you don't know who is on the other end of it," he said.
Earlier this month Elections Canada investigated a Facebook group aimed at preventing a Conservative majority government.
But Rutherford said the "Anti-Harper Vote Swap Canada" group is nothing more than organized strategic voting and doesn't break any laws.