First-Past-the-Post Voting Leads to Strategic Voting

Back in March I wrote why ranked ballots are better.

The "first-past-the-post" system we currently have forces people like me to vote strategically instead of voting for the person they'd like to lead. For example, those who wanted Olivia Chow to win, but were afraid a vote for Chow would help Doug Ford win, would be able to rank their candidates so a vote for Chow isn't a vote for Ford.

Our current first-past-the-post system forces many of us to vote strategically instead of for the party we want in power. Let's use my riding as an example.

Last election, the Conservative Party candidate won my riding with 40.26% of the vote. The Liberal Party got 34.04% and the NDP got 21.6%. The end result was another CPC MP, helping Stephen Harper stay in power.

It's looking like this is going to happen again. Most of us don't want Harper to win, but we're split between the NDP and Liberal Party. I know who I'd like to see win, but it's more important to me that we defeat the Conservative candidate in my riding. As a result, I will vote strategically. I will vote for the candidate with the best shot at beating the Conservative Party.

We're getting smarter. This time, we're organized. I've joined and I urge you to as well. There's nothing wrong with voting strategically to serve the greater good. The current first-past-the-post voting system demands it.

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Comments (35 - click here to join in!)


At this point in time, it doesn't seem like the Conservatives have a hope of remaining in power. Lots of time for things to change however. I've mentally checked out of this ridiculously long campaign ... I'll pay attention again with like a week to go.

September 10, 2015 @ 9:29 AM

Ben V

@ TorontoMike: I agree with Markosaar. Times are changing and lately I have a feeling that Toronto city and outlying areas like Etobicoke may turn from the Conservatives. Especially with the all the attention those two conservative losers that just got booted from being candidates. One for peeing in a coffee mug at someone's house and the other making crank phone calls pretending to have sex and be handicapped.

My riding used to be devout liberal and shifted to conservative. The guy in my area Terrence Young is a complete douche as I've had personal experiences with him long before he actually won. I'd be happy with anything that takes him out of the running.

The two battlegrounds I'm interested to watch is Ontario and Alberta. Most of Alberta would vote conservative even if they had a cardboard cut our running, but there are some pretty exciting ridings out there. Especially in Calgary where there is a good chance the Liberal candidate could make a pretty big upset. In Ontario I think it may go the route of strategic voting for most people. This of course isn't indicative of all people, but nearly everyone I've had any form of political discourse with, think the conservative ads are terrible, annoying and actually deterring people from looking at conservatives as the party to vote for.

Can we all admit that those Harper ads are simply terrible? I mean they call out Mulcair for being a career politician, what the @#$@ is harper? How about they actually tell us something about their platform..

September 10, 2015 @ 10:50 AM


There's a lot of time left in this campaign. With polls this close, it's foolhardy to count out the Conservatives. The actual election results can also be much different from what the polls tell us due to the popular vote being distorted through the FPTP system. We shouldn't be looking at how many votes each party gets as much as we should be looking at how each party's votes are distributed.

The Conservatives will still almost sweep Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, as well as rural Ontario except for the NDP-held northernmost ridings. The NDP will sweep Quebec as they did last time, however they already own such a majority of the seats in Quebec that it's hard to see them gaining any more. Take a look at the current riding map. Any gains for the NDP in Quebec will be in the low single digits. The Liberals will take most of Atlantic Canada again, which doesn't amount to much. Where does that leave us? In Southern Ontario and BC. That's where this election will be decided.

If the Conservatives can retain their overwhelming support in Southern Ontario and BC, they will win this election. If the NDP can take over urban ridings in Southern Ontario and steal away seats from the Cons out west (it happened provincially in Alberta) and in BC, they'll win this election. As it stands, it's hard to see a path to victory for the Liberals. They're simply not going to gain the 100 or so additional seats needed to have a chance at forming a minority government. Despite what the polls tell us, I see this as a two-way race between the NDP and Conservatives. Hate to say it but it looks like the NDP has the edge right now. Mulcair's done a fantastic job.

September 10, 2015 @ 11:21 AM

Ben V

@ Justin: Mulcair is riding the wave from what happened in Alberta and from his predecessors legacy. I don't know if his campaign is what is shifting numbers to the NDP.

September 10, 2015 @ 11:32 AM


@Ben V,

I think it's mostly his campaign + policy. I think a strong majority wants the Conservatives out, period, for whatever personal reasons. When you get into the nitty-gritty, people get more wishy-washy. A big one though is bill C51, which the Liberals supported for some reason.

As well, Mulclair is appearing strong and to be leadership material, while Trudeau is sort of living up to the "not ready yet" Conservative campaign. In a way, that may backfire for the Conservatives and cause the vote to split less than they require.

September 10, 2015 @ 11:39 AM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

In the day to day conversations I'm having with friends and associates, people from both ends of the political spectrum see the Harper Conservatives stumbling on a daily basis regardless of the issue. Social media sites are rife with jokes about the Conservatives, whether its' the party faithful yelling at reporters or inept candidates being exposed for inappropriate behaviours.
Once people start laughing at you, its time to fold up the tent. There is little or no coming back from it in politics. You can almost see the desperation in Harper's eyes as he repeats the same, tired, scripted responses to his 5 daily questions, wondering what could possibly go wrong next.

Stealing a somewhat modified war quote from Winston Churchill;
"Never, never, never believe any campaign will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to election fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events… incompetent or arrogant candidates, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations."

September 10, 2015 @ 11:52 AM

Ben V

@Nigel: It also doesn't help, when articles start popping up about strife with in the part. I almost and I say almost feel bad for Harper, last time he had big names like Jim Flaherty and Mike Duffy to pump up crowds and work on the overall conservative movement. This time around who does he have? Even his confident Ray Novak had to head back to the headquarters and Harper looked lost without him.

@Markosaar: Really when it comes down to it, the ads have a big effect on undecided voters. The NDP ads just haven't resonated which is why the latest polls show a shift. Trudeau's ads seem to be, especially the one with him walking in front of parliament. I do have to commend Mulcairs team on the one they did showing all the criminals and henchmen Harper surrounded himself with and how many of them are on trial or in jail.

I am still in a quandry about the Liberal support for Bill-C51. I believe they tried to be too mainstream by saying we'll support it, but if elected would make changes. The stance should have openly been against it.

However I'm a big fan of infrastructure spending and killing the office of the PMO. Look at all the advancements in economies in the last 100 years all came from infrastructure spending. As for the PMO, that place is a vile den of partisan weasels and from what the duffy trial has uncovered ruthless people who are willing to bend the law regardless of any party in power.

September 10, 2015 @ 12:27 PM


Gee, how come no one is talking about that slime ball, psychologically unbalanced communications director for Mulclair? Surely, if he had written those things about islam or natives or women he would have been canned. But alas, its only the Catholic church and its Pope so its OK.

September 10, 2015 @ 1:08 PM


I was reading a post on Reddit which indicated there are only a handful of riding's that would be changed with strategic voting. I didn't verify his claims but there was little opposition to the post.

Either way, no party is looking to get a majority so even if the con's win it will be an NDP/Liberals partnership dictating which laws get passed.

September 10, 2015 @ 1:36 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

What specifically would you like to discuss?
We could do the old tit for tat, where I bring up something inflammatory the Conservative riding association director for the riding of Bay of Quinte was fired for and you hit back with the comments from the communications director for Mulcair. Boring, predictable and exhausting, but if that's all you have, let's play.

September 10, 2015 @ 1:37 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


My riding is one of those ridings that would change with strategic voting.

September 10, 2015 @ 1:37 PM


How about the double standard for starters? We all know if a CPC member said similar things about the 3 groups I previously mentioned, it would have been all over social media and the CBC, The Star, etc and that person would be dumped by Harper.

Say what you will about Harper, he doesn't have any problems canning people - while Mulclair does nothing about it.

September 10, 2015 @ 1:50 PM

Ben V

@ Argie: Ray Novak, the entire PMO are just a couple of people that come to mind after this whole Duffy thing. Hypocrisy abound, there are plenty of others that have said/ done incredulous things and Mr Harper has refused to le them go.

Instead of playing the victim, just state the points you want to make. Not act like "your side" isn't get their fair share of negative/positive spotlight.

I'd honestly say you are luck though, because if the liberals and NDP ever combine there will never ever be another conservative government in your life or your children's.

September 10, 2015 @ 2:18 PM

el wrong 0

Harper won't can Novak or the others who *supposedly* were running rings around him secretly.

September 10, 2015 @ 2:19 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

Republican Playbook - Rule #1

When you do something stupid, questionable or incomprehensible, blame the liberal media.

Do not however, blame social media. Computers are the devil's tool and no truly patriotic, god-fearing American, I mean Canadian, would have one in the house.

C'mon Argie, you can do better than that.

September 10, 2015 @ 2:51 PM


I'd honestly say you are luck though, because if the liberals and NDP ever combine there will never ever be another conservative government in your life or your children's.

I actually quite disagree with this. I feel like it's the same old cycle: would lead to big government + resting on their laurels. Eventually people get fed up and they'd get voted out.

This would depend on the Conservative Party being forced to re-invent itself, which I feel the federal one is actually capable of, post-Harper.

Partially against my point though, the provincial Conservatives ran on the same old tired shit and we got the shitty Liberals again.

September 10, 2015 @ 2:55 PM


Oh I failed at quoting @BenV. First paragraph is his, the rest are mine.

September 10, 2015 @ 2:57 PM


Argie! You're back!! You said you were bailing on this "dying" blog.

September 10, 2015 @ 3:18 PM


@Nigel & Ben
So ignore my assertion of a double standard. That OK, no worries.

How about them Jays?

September 10, 2015 @ 3:23 PM

Ben V

@ Markosaar: Ontario still has three parties. Chop it down to two and what I said about federal politics would be applicable to Ontario. Canadians for the most part are socially liberal(abortion and apparently sex ed aside), which often overrides fiscal conservative tendencies.

September 10, 2015 @ 3:43 PM


It is dying - that's why I'm trying to save it.

At least Ben is back. We just need my other good buddy McNulty to make a few more appearances.

September 10, 2015 @ 3:51 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Don't worry, when I sense it's dying, I'll stick a fork in it and kill it dead.

September 10, 2015 @ 3:52 PM


I wonder if the NDP or Liberals or (heaven forbid) the Bloc have a greater chance of defeating this fine gentleman.

So why did the Conservative candidate for Ahuntsic-Cartierville drop Facebook?
One reason could be his studies in the field of love, including videos advocating a dude's "responsibility" to "date hot bitches":

September 10, 2015 @ 4:48 PM


It seems to be a new riding. Doesn't look like 'strategic voting' is that much of a concern here.

2011 federal election redistributed results[4]
Party Vote %
Liberal 15,127 31.12
New Democratic 14,550 29.94
Bloc Québécois 13,765 28.32
Conservative 4,168 8.58
Green 708 1.46
Others 283 0.58

September 10, 2015 @ 4:53 PM

Mr Robot

@Argie. He said "Memo to CBC and all media," one of them reads. "Stop calling the misogynist, homophobic, child-molesting Catholic church a 'moral authority.' It's not."

1. The Catholic Church has traditionally not ordained women. I would call this misogynistic.

2. The Catholic Church has regularly been "anti-gay". Even the most casual observer of the news recognizes that.

3. Child Molesting. The lawn chair on my patio is aware the Church has a long standing problem with molesting children. In fact, I've read they've actually sued people who went after them with such claims. Now, granted, they "appear" to have improved.

Synposis: The claims made by Mulcair's aide were actually quite accurate. Sorry.

@Ben V. I used to live in the riding that will likely go Liberal. In the last election, Joan Crock-of-Shit barely won the riding & would have lost if not for the internal fighting between the Green Party guy & Liberal dude (whose combined support was over 50%). This time around former Alberta Liberal Kent Hehr is running. While living in that riding, I saw Kent Hehr at my doorstep, at my local store (Midtown CO OP) and on the street more than I've seen every other politician combined in my lifetime. He's a good guy and I donated directly to him even though I am not a fan of Trudeau at all. This man SHOULD be the Liberal Party Leader. And what's great about him is he doesn't tow the party line, he admits their faults and that sometimes he disagree's with his own boss. I cannot vote in that riding as I no longer have a residence there, but I wish him the best.

To ALL you radio people who read this blog: Your acceptance of the "Trudeau just ain't ready" adverts does two things. FIrst, I turn the station because they piss me off. Secondly, these same radio stations gladly get on the "anti bully" bandwagon, yet air ads which are simply personal attacks & bullying on Trudeau. Really? The focus is on his hair & less than masculine persona. How about this. How about Trudeau shaves his head and gets a Harley Fat Boy, pipes it out, puts on ape hangers & fishtails, then drives by the fucking Conservative office & blows out the windows with a 12 gauge Winchester? Would his hair, etc, be an issue then?

@BenV. The Liberals did demand some changes to Bill C51 and some where substantial. Problem is they didn't advertise it just like Wynne doesn't advertise Ontario doesn't have coal generated power anymore (and smog days are gone).

Finally, the whole "Conservatives" are the better stewards of the economy makes me laugh. We're 150 billion deeper in debt. And, what NO one mentions is that if Harper had NOT cut the GST, we'd have balanced the budget years ago. The two percent cut in 2006 cost the treasury 14 billion a year. Do the math. 14 x 10 = ..well GOLLY gee.

Further, most of the economic growth in Canada was because we had 10 years of high oil prices. That's over & it's not coming back for a while. And during that time Harper & Alberta pounded their own chests telling us all about their business acumen. Well that's gone. Calgary and Edmonton are mired in recession. To quote Deb Yedlin, there are now "ghost towers" in Calgary where the lights are on, but no one is working. And parking is easy to find. And traffic is much lighter.

I was up in Edmonton for some business with law enforcement about a month ago. The hotel I normally stay in is often filled with oil workers. This time it was empty. I went down to the bar in the place at 8 PM. There was 3 people there including myself. By the time I finished my second pint I was the only person there. There was two waitresses & the one told me she was working 3 jobs to make a living.

September 10, 2015 @ 8:55 PM


The nature of politics has long been poisoned. The idea of strategic voting is a necessity rather than an ideal. In that sense, I believe that Proportional Representation as a system is better than First Past the Post because everyone gets a share of representation. It may not be equal, but at least there is some representation.

However, I think the real issue lies with the failure of humanity and general malaise of Canadians. We have all of this technological advancement and information at our finger-tips yet things seem not to be improving. Take for example the fact that corporations continue to exploit labourers, make record profits and evade taxes. Thanks to the internet and social media, this is common knowledge, but no one really holds these corporations' feet to the fire. Governments are more and more in bed with big business to the point that no matter who we elect, there isn't really a fair reflection of what Canadians want.

I think this (Canadian democratic values) would be better with either the NDP or Liberals in charge but you still have a lot of shady backroom private interest lobbying going on. And people are more and more distracted by ridiculous "news" such as Miley Cyrus, Caitlyn Jenner or Kardashians and other non-news so that they are easily diverted from the fact that there are private interest groups that want to "own" water. Think about that. All the water in the world, no longer a human right, but a privately-owned commodity. There are people lobbying in the US to make that a reality.

And the biggest problem is stifling of critical thought. People are more and more encouraged to check off a box that they identify with. What if you don't identify with all the details of that particular box? What if you have opposing viewpoints? The real issue is the slow, steady decay of society that can be seen in the form of "my way or the highway" wars of words everywhere on the internet as opposed to civil but productive dialogue.

September 11, 2015 @ 1:24 PM

Rob J

Noticed the Post is allowing reader comments by facebook only, as do ESPN and other sites. Is the elimination of anonymous commenters (e.g. the most unhinged) the future? (Please let it be)

September 11, 2015 @ 8:05 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Rob J

Yes, I think so. Even here I'm wondering how long I can go allowing unmoderated anonymous commenters. It gets worse and worse every year.

September 11, 2015 @ 8:16 PM

Mr Robot

Requiring people to use Facebook as authentication isn't going to stop the freak shows from coming out. Trust me.

September 11, 2015 @ 9:56 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mr Robot

It will deter some.

Only turning off commenting completely will deter all.

September 11, 2015 @ 9:58 PM

Mr. Robot


The stupidity of society & their lack of regard for privacy is the "boon" (see what I did there) to every single fucking intelligence analyst out there. My absolute fav was the a female charged in human trafficking who took to FB to vent about how she was just misunderstood #TROLOLOL.

September 11, 2015 @ 10:11 PM


"... then drives by the fucking Conservative office & blows out the windows with a 12 gauge Winchester? Would his hair, etc, be an issue then? "
@Mr Robot/Irv
Hope your not advocating violence against a certain identifiable group....

September 14, 2015 @ 10:22 AM

Nick Lippa

I am what you call a red Tory, a blue Liberal or whatever you want to label me. I voted for Chrétien, Martin and even for Stephen Harper. It is my opinion that the best combination ever in Canada/Ontario was Trudeau and Davis. Up until a few minutes ago I was undecided but leaning towards Trudeau. However after reading the hatred and venom that Mr. Robot spewed, I am voting for Conservative just so my vote cancels out his!

September 14, 2015 @ 9:16 PM

Mr Robot


LOL, of course Argie, try to twist the words to suit your own agenda. The Conservatives speak out against bullying (as do broadcasters) yet they air these ads which are just bullying. Trudeau IS pretty effeminate but that has nothing to do with how he does his job. The Con's are simply trying to point that out, acting much like College jocks that pick on the smart smaller kid and feel tough. If Trudeau was a thug like tattoo'd 250 pound biker type there would be no mention of any of this.

If I was Trudeau, I'd run attack ads countering Harpers. Id' show him pounding the shit out of Brazeau and him winning in the ring. I don't even like Trudeau but I had to smirk with glee over that. I imagined the Conbot fucktards each time Brazeau took a shot. Them grimace as the "nice haired faggot" kicked the shit out of the thug.

I'm no fan of Trudeau and, to be blunt, I find him incredibly annoying. But it's weak, pussy ass bullshit to mock a dude because he's got girlish wavy hair or a softer voice. It's weak. It's like picking on a kid, animal or woman.

September 14, 2015 @ 9:30 PM

Mr Robot

@Nick. Poor muffin. You're not cancelling my vote because I won't be voting.

September 14, 2015 @ 9:34 PM

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