This is going to be a heck of an election. It already has been, in fact. I'm not going to do an astrological thing - and in fact I took down the one I posted for the 2004 election - because I care too much about the outcome to do it properly. I'm also probably not going to post a whole big thing about the issues and how I feel about them; by this point, anybody who could be swayed by my writings on that stuff already has been. But tomorrow night I'm going to attempt to sit back and watch the proceedings as entertainment, and for anyone planning to do the same, here are my top three picks for ridings to watch.
Winnipeg South Centre
This is where I live right now, so it pretty much automatically makes the list. Seems like a strange riding: it contains the trendy Osborne Village area, which is where I live and presumably fairly left-leaning - as is most of Manitoba (we currently have an NDP provincial government) - but it has historically had a stronger Conservative presence than other parts of the city of Winnipeg. Just a little further North is solid NDP territory, even though my riding is Liberal/Conservative with the NDP a pretty distant third.
Liberal incumbent Anita Neville seems strong, and Project Democracy was rating this as "a safe Liberal seat, persons wishing to stop the Conservatives should vote their preference or consider a vote swap with someone in another riding" until recently. But I think no seat is safe in this election, and it's important everywhere to vote for whichever non-Conservative candidate looks strongest. Project Democracy is no longer rating it as safe either. They report that the Conservatives seem to be "making a push" in this riding, and that agrees with my observation: I had a large group of them show up at my door just a few hours ago.
What are the ethics of handling that situation? I just told the group of Conservative canvassers, "No, you can't [count on my support]," and shut the door; but given that I really believe every seat the Conservatives take in this election is a serious disaster both for me personally and Canada in general, and I see it as imperative to reduce their party's power as far as possible, might it have been a better thing to waste as much of the canvassers' time as possible, so as to reduce their ability to canvass others who might be less decided than me? I guess my actions come down to the tag line of this site: people before principles. Although I violently disagree with what those canvassers stand for, I can't take it out on the individuals. I don't know if I'm right or not. It does seem interesting that at the moment when I did as I did, I didn't even think about it - it was only afterward that it occurred to me maybe I should have strung them along for a while.
Saanich-Gulf Islands (with side comments on the Pirate Party)
Oh, if things were different. If it weren't so important to kick out the Conservatives on their lying, anti-human tuchases, I would be strongly endorsing the Pirate Party of Canada in all of the few ridings where they have a candidate. But as it is, I can't - and I have to say that I really wish the Pirate Party were not running candidates, because I think all the votes they get will be taken from other progressives and exacerbate the vote-splitting problem. I think it would be honourable, and helpful to them in the long run, for current Pirate Party candidates to withdraw and advise their constituents to vote for their strongest local non-Conservative candidates; but as usual when it comes to my idea of what would be honourable, I don't think that's very likely to actually occur.
In previous elections, there was no Pirate Party in Canada, and I generally supported the Greens. That wasn't dampened by some stories I've heard from insiders about the party being run in a less than perfect way; you get some of that in every party. As organized political parties go they're still second only to the Pirate Party in terms of representing the issues I think are important, and they have the advantage of a more broad appeal than the Pirate Party. This time around I can't generally support the Green Party for the same reasons I can't support the Pirate Party - I was especially stung by what happened in Kitchener-Waterloo, see below. But Saanich-Gulf Islands is different, because "the strongest non-Conservative candidate" in Saanich-Gulf Islands actually is Elizabeth May of the Green Party. She and the local Conservative candidate are too close to call in the polls, with everyone else far behind.
I never lived in Saanich-Gulf Islands myself, but I lived most of my life in the Southern Vancouver Island region, and it doesn't surprise me that Saanich-Gulf Islands would be the first place in Canada to go Green. The whole region is full of redneck hippes, so you'll see a lot of Conservative and Green support throughout. The Gulf Islands, though, are where the really committed hippies hang out. This is going to be a fun one to watch.
This is where I lived at the time of the 2008 election. It went Conservative by 18 votes, the closest riding in that election. It seems clear that vote splitting between long-time Liberal incumbent Andrew Telegdi, and Cathy MacLellan of the Green Party, gave Braid his seat. Copyright and tech issues have a high profile in Kitchener-Waterloo because of the presence of the University and RIM: lots of people who care about the same things I care about live in that riding. I was present at an event hosted by Digital Copyright Canada's Russell McOrmond about these issues shortly before the 2008 election; all the candidates had been invited, but only MacLellan showed up. The crowd liked what she had to say about copyright and tech issues, and it's reasonable to guess that she could have picked up 18 votes there. Cause and effect and credit and blame are hard to assign in any real way, but you could kind of squint your eyes and say that that could have been the tipping point that indirectly gave Braid the seat. Braid then gave the geek vote a big slap in the face with his support of US anti-tech interests in the copyright reform committee hearings. Here's a "tweet" of his on the subject of the odious Bill C-32:
@russellmcormond A very strong Bill supporting innovation and IP that has died because of the Opposition Coalition's naked ambition #elxn41
Although I think there'll be strong support from progressives in K-W for expunging both the Conservatives in general and Braid in particular, I also think there's going to be a big vote-splitting problem. Telegdi is a close second to Braid in the current polls. MacLellan is running again and has 10.3% support (compare to the national average of 5.7% and Ontario average of 6.1% for her party); and dammit, there's a Pirate Party candidate too, my agents on the ground tell me he's pretty good (as I'd expect in Kitchener-Waterloo), and it seems certain he will attract a lot of the geek vote that, just this time, I wish would go to the strongest non-Conservative candidate.
The other interesting question for me personally, of course, is how drunk it's okay for me to get on election night, given that I have to be up bright and early to give the first lecture of Computer Science 3170 the next morning, no matter who wins.