Move Canada forward
by Jolan Bailey, Leadnow Vancouver organizer
Leadnow (www.leadnow.ca) is an independent advocacy organization that runs campaigns on the major issues of our time, engages people in participatory decision-making and organizes in communities across Canada. The organization envisions a country where people work together to build an open democracy, create a fair economy and ensure a safe climate for all generations. It’s been just over three years since 3,000 people from all across Canada came together before the 2011 election and began building the leadnow.ca campaigning community. People become part of this community by taking part in campaigns to defend our democracy and hold governments accountable to the values of a majority of people across Canada.
Do you remember how you felt after the last federal election when you heard the news the Harper Conservatives had won a majority government?
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. How could a seemingly progressive country like Canada elect a government that slashes budgets and is dead-set on becoming a dirty oil superpower?
It happened because of vote-splitting in our broken first-past-the-post voting system. Even though a majority voted for a new government against the Conservatives, their votes were split between the Liberals, the NDP and Greens. And because of our electoral system, this handed the Conservatives 100% of the power, with less than 39% of the vote.
The call for cooperation
Like me, a lot of people across the country were outraged. More than 55,000 people signed a Leadnow petition urging opposition parties to cooperate in ridings where Conservatives won because of vote-splitting and to then pass electoral reform.
The idea of formal cross-party cooperation to defeat the Conservatives has been a contested topic among opposition parties. Despite various levels of commitment to cooperation and electoral reform from opposition leaders, both NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have committed to going alone in the next election. It’s now up to voters to take matters into our own hands.
It’s up to us to make sure we get the progressive government that we want – a government that’s committed to fighting climate change, investing in a fair economy and improving our democratic institutions.
What will happen in 2015?
Now, the 2015 election is just around the corner and despite their record, the Conservatives could win again.
The fate of the Harper Government will come down to a few dozen swing ridings where the outcome could be decided by a few hundred votes. If the vote splits in these key ridings, we could face four more years of Harper.
Vote together. Defeat Harper. Move Canada forward
Leadnow just launched a three-step campaign to unite progressive voters across party lines to defeat the Conservatives in 2015.
Step one: Build a bloc of voters
Leadnow is building a bloc of voters who commit to working across party lines to defeat the Conservatives by collecting signatures on a pledge. More than 10,000 voters have already signed the online pledge to Vote Together and volunteer teams are forming across the country to collect pledges with a door-to-door campaign.
Step two: Focus support behind the best candidates who can defeat Conservatives
As more people in a riding sign the pledge, Leadnow will focus more resources into helping voters in the riding unite behind one candidate.
If 1,500 people sign the pledge in a riding, Leadnow will commission a poll to find out which candidates have the best shot at defeating the Conservative. The results of the poll will be reported to supporters in the riding, along with research and background on the candidates running in their areas so people can vote with the best information available.
If thousands more sign the pledge, Leadnow will ask voters in the riding if they want to formally endorse a candidate.
In order to win the endorsement of the Leadnow community, candidates would need to be electable – meaning they have enough support in the riding that they have a legitimate shot at defeating their Conservative opponent – and acceptable – meaning that Leadnow supporters accept their positions on the issues.
If an endorsement is made, Leadnow will work to unite supporters behind the endorsed candidate.
Step three: Get out the vote
Whether or not a candidate is formally endorsed, Leadnow will work to get out the vote to make sure hundreds of thousands of progressive voters show up and vote on election day.
It’s bigger than the election
Leadnow has heard loud and clear from our supporters that while defeating the Conservatives is an important priority, our campaign has to be about more than ousting Harper.
Leadnow formed to work for an open democracy, climate justice and a fair economy in Canada and while Harper is standing in the way of progress on these issues, we know our goals can’t be accomplished just by changing the government.
To make long-term progress, we need power and we need politicians to take us seriously. Having a visible impact on the 2015 election helps build the power we need – if politicians know that our community has the power to make a real difference at the ballot box, they will do better at truly reflecting our interests.
Call to action
You can get involved by going to votetogether.ca to sign the pledge to Vote Together or by calling toll-free 1-855-LEADN0W (1-855-532-3609).
Leadnow Spark event: www.flickr.com/photos/leadnow/sets/72157649172573132/
Flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/leadnow/sets/