I admit it. I voted for Jack Layton.

But no, I did not vote for Peter Thurley even though I live in Kitchener Centre. Nothing against Peter. He’s a great guy with a demonstrated commitment to our community. Yet I could never vote for him in this election even though we’ve become friends through social media.

I voted for Jack Layton in 2006 when I lived in his Toronto-Danforth riding. Why? He was the candidate most likely to be able to stop Stephen Harper from forming a government or at least keep him to a minority. He also represented a progressive vision of Canada. I could have voted Liberal because I always had but I didn’t want to take the risk that the progressive vote would be split and allow the Harper candidate to be elected. The fact that he was the leader of a major political party also influenced my decision.

The biggest factor in my decision was my experience trying to prevent and end the disruptive right wing policies enacted in Ontario by the Mike Harris government. I always called upon people who rejected that narrow, selfish, authoritarian approach to government to coalesce around an alternative that ensured we had a government  that actively cared for everyone regardless of demographics or political ideology. I wanted people to vote for the candidate in their riding who had the best chance of keeping the far right from controlling Ontario–no matter which party they represented. So in 2006, I voted for Jack Layton and the NDP because I believed it was important to walk the talk.

In the 2011 federal election, I urge you to follow my lead and vote for the candidate in your riding that has the best chance of unseating the Harper government–a government that reflects only a minority of Canadians but one that acts as if it has a majority whether it does or not. Reject Stephen Harper and his bullying tacts.

Vote for a vision of a gentler, kinder Canada. Vote for a Canada that puts the needs of Canadians before right wing ideology. Vote for a future for Canada that ensures my children and their peers grow up to live in a Canada where we look out for each other, have universal healthcare and take care of our environment.

In Waterloo Region, the choice is clear. Vote Liberal.

We had two of the closest races in Canada in 2008. A single vote for Karen Redman in Kitchener Centre or Andrew Telegdi in Kitchener-Waterloo can make a very real difference in the result of these local races and shift the balance of power in Ottawa. It is also clear that the alternative in Cambridge is Bryan May, Bob Rosehart in Kitchener-Conestoga and Frank Valeriote in nearby Guelph. I’ve worked alongside May he’s a stand up guy who will be an excellent representative. Rosehart’s record as president of Laurier and Telegdi and Valeriote’s record as MP speak loudly. I have already indicated why you should share Karen Redman as my choice in Kitchener Centre.

I realize that what I’m asking is difficult medicine to for many of you to swallow. I respect that you want to vote with your convictions and the party that most closely represents your world view. There are many good reasons why you should, so go ahead. But be prepared to accept the consequences of your decision especially if Harper’s candidates in Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo squeak by and help Harper secure a majority government that allows for him to remake Canada in his vision without any moderation by representatives of the majority of Canadians.

As I write, it is Easter weekend. I am sure that it is no coincidence that the advance polls fall on Easter weekend. The only party that benefits from a low voter turnout is Stephen Harper’s party. If you have made your decision–especially if you are a college or university student who may find it difficult to vote on May 2, I recommend that you vote in an advanced poll that are open Friday (April 22), Saturday (April 23) or Monday (April 25). Your location is on the back of your voter card (which incidentally you don’t need to vote) or available from Elections Canada.

Let’s join together to elect a government that belongs to all Canadians and not the Harper government that reflects the will of one man. Let’s work together to build a Canada that celebrates all Canadians and supports their efforts to secure the best quality of life possible. Rise up Canada!

25 thoughts on “Why I voted for Jack Layton

  1. James,

    Thank you for your kind words towards me. I appreciate everything you have done for this community, and I want to encourage you to continue your good work.

    I must, however, disagree with the premise of this post.

    When someone tells you that they can’t vote NDP because they don’t think the NDP has a chance to stop Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, challenge them: Vote for Jack Layton, Peter Thurley and the NDP. Then, talk to a friend or family member and urge them to do the same. Go to the polling station together. Imagine what would happen if every NDP voter took one person with them? That’s right, the vote would DOUBLE.

    James, with all due respect, you’re mistaken when you perpetuate the belief that there is only one choice in this election. Don’t let them tell you you don’t have a choice. It’s simply not true.


    Peter Thurley

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Peter! Thanks for putting yourself forward as a candidate in this election campaign.

      In Kitchener Centre, Karen Redman lost by 339 votes in 2008. The NDP has never been a contender in the riding–only a spoiler. It’s clearly a two-way race between Stephen Woodworth representing Stephen Harper and Karen Redman of the Liberals.

      I would never suggest to anyone that they can’t vote NDP. In fact, I said if that is what fits their conviction and beliefs that they should vote NDP. But there are consequences and in this election that could mean a Harper majority–he would no longer need to prorogue Parliament to get his way nor would he need to pay any attention to Parliament since he could run the Harper government completely out of his office.

      In Waterloo Region, there is only one choice for people who believe in a more progressive vision for Canada. Vote for you local Liberal candidate.

      1. But perhaps the reason the NDP has not made headway in this riding is because people have been convinced to vote Liberal, just to unseat the Conservatives.

        Voting insincerely will never create the government you really want. Voting insincerely merely perpetuates the swings between two parties, each of which is equally distasteful to those who vote insincerely for the other party.

        Voting insincerely used to be called “strategic voting”, but there’s nothing strategic about voting for a candidate that doesn’t truly represent your interests.


        1. I would never ask anyone to be insincere with their vote–and I haven’t. I am appealing to people who are considering their options and open to placing their vote where it will have the desired impact. I am talking to people like Rod McNeil who recently explained in the Waterloo Region Record why he was voting Liberal. I am also talking to people who not only dislike Stephen Harper and his style of leadership but who in Kitchener Centre are uncomfortable being represented in Ottawa by a social conservative like Stephen Woodworth.

          I want people in Waterloo Region to vote Liberal because they sincerely believe this country deserves a better government–one that respects our democracy.

  2. With all due respect to both Peter and Bob, James is right. I too would like very much to vote NDP. Unfortunately, Andrew Telegdi needs every vote that he can get from the Kitchener Waterloo riding, having lost to Peter Braid by a mere 17 votes in the last election.

    The idea that the NDP will ever stand a chance of winning a seat in any of our local ridings is hopelessly optimistic, and the unfortunate reality is that it is an optimism that we simply cannot afford to indulge with Stephen Harper on the verge of a majority.

    It is time for the NDP and their supporters to realize that the system is broken and that we can’t play ignorant to the realities of our situation any longer. We must vote Liberal.

    1. Well said Jonathan! Like it or not Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo are two party races and how each of us votes can directly affect how much power Stephen Harper has.

  3. This post points directly at the reason we need proportional representation in Canada. Donate to Fair Vote Canada to help change our voting system to make it fairer to all candidates, and to all voters.


    1. Thanks for your thoughts Wayne. I’ve actually been a big fan of proportional representation for many years. Given Harper’s record of inaction on Senate reform which he favours, I don’t expect you’ll see any movement on PR under his watch.

      In this election, we need to work within the system that exists and for me the priority is to prevent a Harper government or at least reduce his number of seats.

    2. Peter Thurley could have had proportional representation. Instead his party squandered its chance to win PR in Ontario in 2007. Instead of going out and advocating for MMP during the Ontario election, they paid a little lip service to MMP and ran the same tired “we’re going to win if enough people believe!” nonsense they are running this election. For that reason alone the NDP will not be getting my vote.

      1. An interesting point Paul. But I think it’s important though that we keep focussed on the 2011 “referendum” question and whether Stephen Harper deserves a majority. I think we can all agree that the answer to that question is “No!” If I could, I’d write in “Not.”

  4. Great post James. When I read the title, my jaw dropped, when I read the post my heart swelled.

    The choice is clear in Kitchener Centre between a responsible Canada and an irresponsible Canada and the responsible choice is Karen Redman as our Liberal representative.

    This choice is only marginally difficult for me. My heart wants me to vote Green because they have the strongest vision for Canada, my brain tells me I must vote Liberal because they have the strongest sense of democracy & a balanced progressive vision for Canada. After the Kitchener Centre debate on Thursday I could not, in the interest of Canada, vote for Peter Thurley, who I’ve found to be a well meaning fellow about town.

    During the debate Peter said the NDP would “Cut the oilsands off at the knees” which is impossible, divisive and economically irresponsible. Epic fail.
    When asked about infrastructure spending he said Canada needed more green space on university campuses and less corporate influence but lower tuition – counter intuitive and not addressing real infrastructure deficits.
    Asked about developing a ‘green economy’ Peter said the subsidies to oil & gas should be cut and money spend on students, seniors, doctors and nurses – that’s not a green economy strategy.

    In a comment above, Peter asked for NDP supporters to take a friend to vote, doubling the NDP vote. This would STILL not be enough to win the riding, proving the case for strategic voting. Moreover, Jack Layton himself has said the NDP and LPC platforms are similar except the LPC wasted time costing theirs. For Jack Layton’s NDP this election is about giving him a turn which is absolutely the wrong reason to vote NDP. The NDP platform and vision is nearly as rear-view mirror as the CPC. The NDP is not the best choice irrespective of strategic implications – in my opinion.

    To me, any NDP support is on the back of the poorest political gaming. The NDP is finding political fortune in attacking the defenders of Canadian democracy for personal gain. They are telling Canadians what they want to hear with no idea how to pay for it, no concept of underlying economic implications and defend these lies with “adscam” or “Oda”. The NDP has sat on their hands in parliament and at the same time chastise Liberals for supporting the Conservatives while they chastise the Conservatives for destroying Canada. Which one is it? Pure political gamesmanship.

    This election is hyper-local in Kitchener Centre. The NDP do not have strong support and Peter does not compare to Karen Redman as far as strength of local leadership is concerned. The choice is clear – the strongest, responsible candidate in Kitchener Centre is Karen Redman. If you’re truly repulsed by the Liberals (for whatever reason), the next strongest option for fiscal prudence, balanced platform and vision for Canada is Byron Williston and the Green party.

    I think it’s critical (here and Kitchener-Waterloo) to vote strategically – more than ANY other ridings, but I think ‘strategic voting’ alienates new voters and new voters should vote their conscience. Active voters should choose the Liberals, it truly is the best/only option in Kitchener Centre.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thought Patrick. In Kitchener Centre, the choice is between Karen Redman and Stephen Woodworth. Anyone who compares them will quickly see which one’s views reflects Kitchener’s views.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  5. Even in the last election, friends were asking me, what have the liberals really done for our two ridings to deserve our vote?

    1. I think the what have you done for me lately question is a good one, and it’s true that the Conservatives have thrown good money at Waterloo Region. There is no reason to expect this to stop as WR is a model community (until we give up on LRT) where money goes a long way.

      The fact that the Conservatives spent 60% of stimulus money in 46% of ridings (not surprisingly Conservative ridings) shows that Harper is in tune to the “what have you done for me lately” mentality, but out of tune with what’s best for Canada.

      This reality is terrifying. It shouldn’t be surprising that Conservatives are so much better at raising money from the private sector than other parties. Donating gobs of black economy money to the Harper Regime buys influence – normal operating procedure (of a democracy in contempt).

      AdScam which is held over Liberals heads was a reprehensible example of a complacent government. Influence peddling is the order of the day for Conservatives.

      If the question is what will the NDP do for me? They say they have all this money, critics say there is $70b in new spending in their platform.

      The question of what a party will do for you is bribery. The question of what a party will do for your community, your children and your nations reputation on the world stage is visionary. It’s irrefutable that the party that can do best for us in those areas is the experienced, strong, pragmatic Liberals.

      When the rallying cry of the NDP is “Bring 2 friends with you and vote NDP and we might have a chance at winning even though our platform is similar but way more expensive than the Liberals, we don’t take unpopular positions and don’t understand economics” we’ve got a problem. If that cry resonates that problem remains Stephen Woodworth, our MP sitting on environment committee and justice committee over a period of Canadian history that saw the tarsands report scrapped, the rule of law discarded and our civil liberties violently compromised.

      In Kitchener Centre, your vote can STOP Harper, and restart Canada. I don’t want to “stay the course”, I want a new course!

      Vote Liberal – winning. Bring a friend to vote Liberal – bi-winning.

    2. James, I would suggest better questions to ask before you vote are:
      – Do I want Stephen Harper to have a majority government?
      – Do I want the NDP and Liberals to have the majority of the seats in Parliament?

      If your answers match mine in Waterloo Region, especially in the two ridings that were decided by a handful of votes last time, voting Liberal is the only way to get what you want. In other ridings across the country, it may be by voting NDP or Green but neither is a viable alternative to Harper locally.

      Check out this website to find out that gives advice to Canadians whose priority is to save our country from Stephen Harper: http://www.projectdemocracy.ca/

  6. I have voted strategically in the past and I was sorry later that I did. I always vote for who I think will do a good job. The liberals always campaign on the left and govern on the right.

    1. I never expected every progressively minded voter to agree with me so I’m not trying to change your mind. I believe though that the majority of people to the left of Harper would rather have Liberals on the so-called right (with a strong NDP presence) than to have a far right Harper government.

  7. As I had mentioned in my twitter reply having lived most of my life in Toronto until 4 years ago I am very familiar with Sneaky Jack and Ms Chow.
    And would never in a million years ever be able to support either one. The lies and deceit go back a long way way and frankly he has not changed his ways.
    This is a man who comes from wealth and during his years on Toronto City Council he liven in subsidized Co-Op housing.
    So no you shuld not have voted for Jack

    1. Jack does tend to be a like him or not kinda guy. I never thought I’d find myself voting for him. But for the reasons outlined, I did and I was happy to do so. But in this election and living in Kitchener Centre, I won’t be voting NDP because it’s not the best way to make sure Stephen Harper doesn’t make Canada into something that none of us support.

      1. I find it funny that you voted for Jack to stop Harper. The reason there was an election in ’06 was because Layton and Harper worked together to bring down the Martin government. Layton made sure the environment was not a topic because they brought down the government on the opening of a MAJOR environmental conference in Montreal. Dion as Minister of Environment as host didn’t campaign until it was over. The press didn’t cover the COP.
        That is why I will never vote for NDP as long as Jack is in power.

        As it is I will continue to support the only party that is pushing for democratic reform. I will continue to vote GREEN. I refuse to vote against issues. I vote for actions, platforms and policies. Until more people do the same you will always be told who to vote for by polls. Something that I will not do and have never understood.

        1. I admire you for sticking with your principles. I am not trying to persuade people like you to vote differently than what you believe matches your beliefs best. I am mainly talking to people who could comfortably vote for the Liberals, NDP or Green parties and place a priority on having a progressive government. These people can make a difference in the results Monday depending upon which choice they make.

  8. I just wanted to correct Mark C Robins. Co-op housing is different than other types of housing. People who live there also pay full market rent and jack Layton was one of them.

    1. Thanks for the clarification James. I fully support affordable housing that mixes full market rent with subsidized units. I like for example the redevelopment of Regent Park in Toronto to have a diversity of incomes present.

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