When elections are fought by the numbers most of us don't count

And they’re off… to another election in which most of us won’t count.

No one will admit it, of course, but take it from me.


This won’t be an election about ideas. Ideas don’t win elections. Can you say carbon tax? Or Kim Campbell? Forget meaningful debate about corporate tax cuts, budget deficits, debt, wars in Afghanistan and Libya, environment, globalization, poverty—except, of course, as those issues nudge numbers.

Like all recent elections in our first-past-the-post system, this one will be all about numbers—a small number of numbers in 50, give or take, of the 308 federal ridings in which one party or another believes, for one reason or another, it can wrest a particular seat from its rivals.

Start with the standard-issue 40 ridings in which the margin of victory last time was miniscule enough that the losing party hopes a leader-kissed baby here or a strategically timed announcement there will change the outcome. They’ll count.

But the only ever-shifting-winds-of-change riding in Nova Scotia is West Nova where the difference between a Tory or Liberal MP is traditionally a few popular-vote percentage points. West Nova voters will matter.

Each party also maintains its own additional list of ridings in which, for whatever reasons—its own star candidate, the stumbles of an incumbent, a particular policy—it hopes to make a gain.

The NDP is targeting one such Nova Scotia riding—Dartmouth Cole-Harbour—where they believe former provincial leader Robert Chisholm can knock off Liberal Michael Savage.

The Tories thought they had their own star candidate to take down another Liberal—Geoff Regan in Halifax West—but, for some reason, they’ve stopped talking about that particular “star:” Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly.

Conservatives say they’re also targeting rural Liberals and New Democrats like Peter Stoffer, who voted for the federal gun registry. But even they aren’t dumb enough to think they can actually defeat the popular MP, who gobbled up more than 60 per cent of the votes last time.

Which means…

In most Nova Scotia ridings, our numbers don’t add up. Our votes won’t matter.

We will once again be spectators at our own democracy. Welcome to Election 2011.


  1. You are failing to notice how important demographics are in shaping future discussions in the political future of this country. In a way, it matters less who becomes PM (especially in a minority position) and more about the statistics and demographics behind voter turnout.

    If waves of people under 40 voted this time, sure in some ridings it may not change the leader but you can bet politicians would begin in this country to discuss relevant issues to young people. It isn’t as the media says that young people just don’t care, its that they feel irrelevant.

    Young people need to understand that every vote counts if you want to decide what the boring politicians are going to argue about in parliament!


  2. This is how we don’t matter to the major parties, but there is a way Nova Scotians can show that they do matter: by making the statement that we care about our democracy. Canada has a huge voter turnout problem, brought into relief by the fact that more people DIDN’T vote in the last election than did vote for Harper. Something around 6 in 10 of our twenty-something citizens don’t vote. In the same way that our region doesn’t count to politicians, there’s a whole generation that’s counting itself out. How about if Nova Scotians aim to have the highest voter turnout in the country this election? Show that even if we don’t matter to them, we sure as hell matter to us.


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