The Week — April 28

Conservatives join the Green Party bandwagon, vote swapping takes off, Sprawlapalooza gets activist-wild

No need to adjust your eyes — is that a coalition we see? Former NDP MLA Don Scott (left) and Conservative wagon master Fraser Smith join forces with Greenie Elizabeth May.

Vote swapping, party jumping, oh my

Did Saanich-Gulf Islands Conservative Gary Lunn just forfeit his candidacy to Federal Green Party riding contender Elizabeth May? Not quite — but one Conservative did jump ship. Fraser Smith shocked many this week when the former Conservative campaign manager for Preston Manning and long-time Gary Lunn supporter announced that he will be boarding the Green Party train in an effort to blow the whistle for May. Soon after, ex-NDP MLA Don Scott hopped on board as well.

The triad hosted a head-turning political stunt on Monday, when Smith, Scott and May stood by the Pat Bay Highway/Beacon Road interchange, holding signs below Smith’s bulletin that read: “CANADA NEEDS ELIZABETH MAY. BUT ONLY YOU CAN ELECT HER.”

“A lot of Canadians would like to see her in [parliament], but aren’t in her riding,” says Smith. “So, Saanich-Gulf Islands voters have to make a decision not just for their riding, but all of Canada. Let’s hope they can see the bigger picture.”

Smith said he made the decision to join the May forces after a life of struggling to help the Conservative party and Manning. The change he hoped to see was never fully realized, and he says watching the debates now “turns his stomach” with the inhumane ways politicians talk to each other. But, Smith says, his belief now lies with May — and May is thrilled to have the support.

“My hope is that when people vote it won’t be because they’re trying to keep someone out, but because they are trying to put someone in parliament who they can believe in,” says May. “We can change things.”

Despite some criticism from fellow Tories, Smith says he will be sticking to his guns on this one, and hopes others will “get sensible” too.

“Gary [Lunn] is a good friend, and I know he’s disappointed by this, but there’s a real chance that this one person could help clean up our government the way we’ve failed to do before, and we’re being called on to make a real change here,” says Smith. “Elizabeth is tough as nails, smart as hell, nice as can be … and I know she can do it.”

Voter seeks riding, will trade

For anyone still not convinced their vote counts, there’s a way to guarantee it does: swap it.

Vote swapping has been around for years, and was declared legal by the federal government in 2008 when a surge of Facebook rallying caught up to swing ridings. While it’s not an offence to trade your, say, NDP vote in Victoria for a Green vote in Saanich-Gulf Islands, it would be an offence to accept bribes or money for doing so. Of course, unless you have a reliable acquaintance there’s also the worry that someone will trade with you just to sucker your vote. Not to fear, one major website has dedicated its efforts to make vote swapping as simple and reliable as possible: votepair.ca.

“This is a step we can do right now, each of us, to make up for an electoral system that needs reform,” says Daniel Tourigny, a Saanich resident and proponent of vote swapping. “I find it ridiculous that it’s come down to deals between Canadians across the country to swap votes. It should be a signal to all parties that democratic and electoral reform has got to be a national topic of discussion, and soon.”

The results could mean the difference between split votes and strategically placed candidates. In 2008, two ridings were affected by votepair.ca match-ups. “In the end, each of you has a better chance of seeing a candidate from your party of choice elected,” says Tourigny. “It’s a sure way to increase the strength of your vote. We need to learn to trust each other again as Canadians who care about our country.”

It’s all just a game of trusting someone else with our vote in the end, right?

Sprawlapalooza

For those who want a chance to jive to didgeridoos while saving land at the same time, this weekend’s free rock fest — Sprawlapalooza — is just what the activist ordered.

The event, hosted by Wild Coast, the Wilderness Committee and the Dogwood Initiative, is an attempt to engage citizens and pull awareness to the current Capital Regional District structure and promises of halting resort projects that threaten to eat up farmland on the Saanich Peninsula.

“It’s a concert and a rally to end urban sprawl — we’ve done the door canvassing, the cold calling, now we’re trying something a little different to get people moving,” says Gordon O’Connor of Dogwood.

Rocky Mountain Rebel Music, Kuba Oms and Everybody Left will perform, with activism in the form of reggae, ska and worldbeat anthems, complete with a message to “protect the land we love.” Catch the event Saturday, April 30, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Centennial Square. Wildernesscommittee.org. M

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