Kris Constable: Vancouver Quadra voters face a dilemma this election
Voters in Vancouver Quadra face a dilemma in this federal election. I know this because as the Green Party candidate for Vancouver Quadra, I have knocked on thousands of doors for the last two months, and I have been hearing the same conundrum over and over.
Voters say they want to choose the candidate with the best chance of defeating Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. At the same time, they are distressed by the fact that the Liberals and the NDP have both explicitly or implicitly expressed their support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
This is a burning issue for residents here. Kinder Morgan proposes a seven-fold increase in oil sands tanker traffic through Vancouver and Burnaby. These tankers would carry bitumen from the oil sands, mixed with toxic diluents to keep it liquid; a sticky slurry that is next to impossible to clean up when spilled. A single tanker accident would devastate our coastline.
Residents here have built their lives around the beauty of this land. Homeowners know that the value of their investments are married to the magnificence of this coast. Voters recognize that the economic, social and environmental consequences of approving the Kinder Morgan project are just too severe.
Voters are also becoming aware that Liberal, Conservative, and NDP Members of Parliament vote with their parties, not for their constituents. For example, the voting record of Joyce Murray—Vancouver Quadra’s respected Liberal incumbent—shows that over the course of 500 votes on various bills in Parliament, she has voted 100 percent in line with the Liberal party’s agenda, regardless of her constituents’ opinions on the matters at hand.
Justin Trudeau has spoken highly of at least three of the four major oil pipeline proposals, and he has chided Harper for not getting pipelines to tidewaters. How will Murray vote when Trudeau asks for her support on a bill regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion? Based on her voting record, what Vancouver Quadra constituents want won’t factor into it.
Another issue that has left voters perturbed is that, despite the fact that most Canadians were against it, Murray was the voice of support for the Liberal Party on Bill C-51. Now that it has passed and become law, its provisions allow Canada’s spy agencies to surveil Canadians, and to share that data in almost unlimited ways. It also allows jail time for individuals even when there isn't any suspicion that criminal activity has taken place. Not one part of this omnibus bill makes Canadians any safer. It violates Canadian rights and civil liberties, and will result in the suppression of dissent and diversity.
Strategic voting makes sense to those whose main aim is to get Harper out of office. Other voters call the vote-splitting concern as a fallacy, saying that votes for Green Party candidates are drawn from all three of the other major parties’ bases, and from the massive pool of voters normally too discouraged to vote. They observe that a decade ago, in the wake of the Liberal sponsorship scandal, many people successfully advocated for a very similar approach. Strategic voting then promptly elected a young Stephen Harper, who had campaigned on promises of accountability and transparency.
But there is another more personal recurrent question I hear that unites all voters here, which is, “What world will I leave for my grandchildren?” The people of this riding yearn to build a community grounded in a flourishing, protected environment, where their children can thrive in sustainable occupations.
Vancouver Quadra residents have told me that they want an MP who will vote on their behalf in Parliament. I am fighting hard every day for the chance to be that person, and if all the people who are saying that they would like to vote Green do, I will be able to serve as your MP.
Partisanship aside, the most strategic thing you can do this election is to vote thoughtfully, and to bring people to the polling station who did not vote the last time.