Thursday September 10, 2015

Leadnow urges people in swing ridings to vote strategically

Amara Possian of the advocacy group Leadnow, and party supporters waving signs outside the venue for the Maclean's national leadership debate, August 6, 2015.

Amara Possian of the advocacy group Leadnow, and party supporters waving signs outside the venue for the Maclean's national leadership debate, August 6, 2015. (Leadnow.ca and Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Amara Possian's title is "Campaign Manager, Elections." But she doesn't work for a political party or a conventional interest group. In fact, Possian thinks our entire electoral system is broken.

To fix it, she's running something called "Vote Together" for the social media-focused advocacy group Leadnow.

They're targeting 11 ridings where Conservative candidates won by slim minorities in the last election and encouraging voters to lend their support to whichever non-Conservative has the best chance to win. And she believes her group has an edge over others who oppose Stephen Harper's party.

"We're giving people the information that we need to defeat the Conservatives all in one place," she tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "There's never been a one-stop shop like this ever before."

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Conservative leader Stephen Harper reacts during a campaign event in Ottawa, Canada August 31, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The group's site tells voters which candidate is most likely to defeat the Conservatives based on historic election results. And, in ridings where 500 voters have pledged to take part, they've also done local polling.

The goal, she says, is not simply to oust the Conservatives. It's to push for a government that will support "open democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment.

"Our supporters see voting together as a means. It isn't an end," says Possian. "We're building political power outside the system through this election, in order to have an impact on October 19th. But, ultimately, to push whoever is in government to take action."

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (seated, R) listens to a patron during a campaign stop at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Gatineau, Quebec, September 1, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

She acknowledges that not all the opposition parties' policies align with the views of Leadnow's supporters. For instance, the Liberals supported the Conservatives anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51 - a measure Leadnow opposes.

"Our community was outraged. They weren't happy about the Liberal support of Bill C-51."

In some ridings, Leadnow supporters will be asked to vote Liberal.

Nonetheless, she says that Leadnow's election strategy is still backed by a majority of its members.

Possian believes that strategy is more effective than supporting one opposition party in particular.

"We're doing something the parties can't," she says. "The parties, they just want to win."