A week ago, I wrote about how voters in Waterloo Region should vote Liberal if they wanted a progressive alternative to Stephen Harper’s government. Since that time, we keep hearing about an orange surge so you might be wondering if that changes anything.
Yes, there apparently has been an orange surge in Quebec according to the polls. How this translates into seats in Quebec is yet to be seen. My guess is that it’ll be on the lower end of seat projections. And yes, the NDP has strength in the Maritimes and British Columbia. This trend started early in the campaign and is not part of what is being described as a surge.
What is happening in Ontario?
Until the last day or so, I saw no evidence in the polls that the NDP was anything more than a distant third in Ontario. I am now seeing an increase in support that appears to make them competitive with the Liberals. I believe that what is happening is that people are responding to media reports and that before people need to mark their ballots, they will make a different decision if they aren’t sure they will like the result.
Why would they change their minds? In Ontario, the biggest beneficiary of an increase in NDP support is Stephen Harper. His party is still in the lead in Ontario. The numbers are low enough that a majority government may seem to be out of reach but take another look. We know that Harper has been playing to the converted from day 1. That’s why his numbers have remained so consistent. Any move towards the NDP in areas where they are not traditionally contenders only splits the opposition votes and ensures that Harper is returned as Prime Minister.
Ontario will determine if Stephen Harper gets a majority or not. The more the opposition splits, the greater the chance that we’ll be living with a Harper majority.
Kitchener Centre by the numbers
Don’t confuse an increase in NDP support with a surge. I’m sure the local NDP campaigns are busier than they have been for the first four weeks of the campaign but that does not a surge make.
Let’s take a look at the results of the last two elections.
Woodworth – 16,480
Redman – 16,141
NDP – 8,152
Redman – 21,714
Harper Tory – 16,131
NDP – 9,253
What you see is that the vote for Harper’s party has remained consistent. You will also see that the NDP has consistently been a distant third. The main difference is a decrease in Liberal votes due to people who did not vote.
Waterloo Region’s choice
The NDP has been so far back that they would need to at least double their votes to even have a chance of winning in Kitchener Centre. I don’t take anyone’s vote for granted but I suggest that the people who voted Liberal last time have been doing so for their whole lives and that the vast majority are unlikely to switch this time–especially when the Liberal support has been so consistent throughout this campaign. So any significant shift of voters without a strong party allegiance only splits the votes ensuring that neither the Liberals nor NDP have a chance of winning Kitchener Centre.
If the NDP surprises me and wins in Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo ridings, there truly will be a national surge and they will form the government–likely with a majority. I can see a large increase in NDP seats when the ballots are counted. I can even see that there is a chance they could be the official opposition. But I do not believe there is any chance that they will take enough seats in Ontario–including those in Waterloo Region– to form a government.
So if you live in Waterloo Region and you’re thinking of voting NDP or Green, think again. Karen Redman, Andrew Telegdi or your local Liberal candidate is still your best choice if you want a progressive alternative to Stephen Harper–an alternative worth voting for.
Why should you believe me?
I’ve admitted to being a Liberal and with one notable exception being a Liberal voter, so I must be self-interested. Perhaps there is a touch of that. But more importantly I am proud Canadian who cares deeply about my country and wants to ensure that the progressive nation that I grew up in is the same one that my children will know and live in. As much as I want to see the Liberal Party do well, I would never suggest that the future of the Liberal Party is more important than the future of Canada. My comments and recommendations here are what I honestly believe are in the best interests of all Canadians. If I was still living in Toronto-Danforth, I would not hesitate to again vote for Jack Layton as my MP. But I don’t. If you live in Waterloo Region like I do, join me in voting Liberal.