Pollster Mario Canseco thinks it’s going to be tough deciding to vote Green in October.
By saying that, the vice president of Vancouver-based Insights West is courting the risk of being accused by Greens and their supporters of perpetuating what they consider to be an erroneous claim that Greens split the progressive vote and allow the right-wing politicians to win.
But with the fall election shaping up to be a dogfight between Conservatives and New Democrats, Canseco believes that “when you see the NDP with a chance to form the government at the federal level, the environmentally conscious voter has a decision to make”.
“Do you give your vote to the Greens with the hope that there will be one or two more people accompanying Elizabeth May to Ottawa?” Canseco posed the issue in a phone interview with the Straight.
“Or do you give your vote to the NDP if they have a chance to form a government that is essentially going to implement policies that are going to be helpful to the environment? And I think that’s a very difficult choice for the progressive voter,” Canseco continued.
“Maybe you want to see more Greens in Ottawa, and try to get something out of it, but it’s a much tougher decision to make when the party that has definitely done things differently and said things differently than the Liberals and the Conservatives particularly when it comes to climate change, if they have a shot at forming the next government, then you might think twice about voting for the Greens,” the public opinion canvasser also said.
According to Canseco, the political landscape is much different compared to the times when the revered Jack Layton was around as NDP leader.
He recalled that although Layton framed his 2008 campaign as one where he was running for prime minister, it was likely more of a strategy to siphon off votes from the Liberals because their leader Stephane Dion was seen as “fairly weak”.
“It wasn’t a question of, you know, can Layton be the next prime minister?” Canseco said, noting that New Democrats ended up in their usual third place.
What changed for Layton, according to Canseco, was the 2011 leaders’ debate whose aftermath saw the NDP rise to become second to the Conservatives.
“But then, it really becomes a little too late for that to really materialize,” he said about that point in the campaign that culminated in the NDP scaling historic heights as the new Official Opposition.
Now with Tom Mulcair as leader, it’s a different ballgame.
“At this point, you know, to have a discussion of whether the NDP can form the government four months before the election is definitely uncharted territory,” Canseco said.
What this does, according to him, is spur the voters who might have been considering the Liberals, who are currently languishing behind the Conservatives and New Democrats, to reassess their choices.
As a side note, Canseco said Liberals used to use against the NDP the argument that the only way to defeat the Conservatives is to vote Liberal.
Back to the NDP’s promising prospects even before the writ is dropped, Canseco said: “You’re starting to have this conversation at an earlier time. You could be having your own struggle in your mind if you’re trying to figure out who you’re going to vote for if you want to get rid of [Conservative Prime Minister Stephen] Harper or if you’re upset with the Harper government: ‘What is going to happen with your vote?’ And you know, mostly it’s the kind of discussion that is half ideological and half pragmatic. You know you want to vote for a party that’s going to have a chance to win.”