Canada

Strategic voting could play significant role in some GTA ridings

Some pollsters say that strategic voting might play a significant role in the outcome of next Tuesday's election.

Some pollsters say that strategic voting — choosing to support a candidate who wouldn't normally be a voter's first choice to achieve a larger goal — might play a significant role in the outcome of next Tuesday's election.

Internet-based campaigns have sprung up urging electors to vote strategically in certain tight ridings in the GTA, in order to defeat Conservative candidates. Three of those ridings are in Mississauga.

For Camilla Leonard, who lives in the hotly contested Mississauga-Erindale riding, strategic voting makes "total sense."

Not only does she think it's a good idea, she has already done it, having voted in an advance poll.

When she marked her ballot, she decided to support the Liberal incumbent, Omar Alghabra, in the hope of keeping the Conservatives out.

"I'm more of an NDP or Green supporter," she said. "The Liberal guy at the local level is pretty good. I'd rather have him in there again rather than waste my vote."

According to the polling firm Ipsos-Reid, nearly four in 10 Ontario voters say they would switch their vote away from their preferred party in order to defeat the Conservatives.

John Wright, vice-president of Ipsos-Reid, said in an interview that politicians and voters shouldn't be surprised.

"People, since the dawn of crossing ballots off for candidates, have strategically voted, depending on the situation.

"I think it's appropriate that in the last week of the campaign those people who are soft voters are going to take a look around and see where their vote can mean the most," said Wright.

Tories targeted

One website that's telling voters how to cast their ballots strategically is voteforenvironment.org.

The co-founder is Alice Klein, the editor and CEO of Now magazine.

"Watching the Conservatives govern the country and the really disastrous policies they enacted, it just seemed really important to make sure that kind of vote-splitting doesn't happen again," she said.

Klein's website calls for strategic voting in eight GTA ridings, including all three Mississauga ridings.

"In the ridings where there is a chance for cross-party co-operation to defeat a Conservative candidate we ask people to make that choice," said Klein.

Wright said strategic voting can certainly affect the result of a federal election. He points to the 2004 election when Stephen Harper declared late in the campaign that his party could win a majority.

"It spooked people in the province of Ontario who had previously 'soft committed' to the Conservatives. Well, guess what happened? Six per cent of the people on voting day went into the booth and changed their minds." 

Wright says strategic voting could determine whether the Conservatives win a majority or a minority next Tuesday.