Aside: Strategic Voting

See my previous post about my endorsement of NDP candidate Diane Freeman for the riding of Waterloo.

LeadNow polls for Waterloo, from a month agoI’ve in the past been an advocate of strategic voting.

Strategic voting, though, is very, very hard to get right.  Even with all the polling data (which, for individual ridings, you don’t even have), you don’t really know what your neighbours are going to do election day.  We have great tools like Vote Together and Three Hundred Eight, but I’m not convinced these are really enough information to base a good strategic vote on.

In strategic voting, you’re voting for a less-favourite party to keep out a hated party.  Say you’re a big fan of the Greens, but your riding is a close race between the NDP and Conservatives, with the Greens trailing far behind.  In this case, you might choose to vote NDP to keep the Conservatives out.

And this might be a rational choice.  But are you sure the NDP and Conservatives are the only parties who have a chance at winning?  How do you know that?  Is that data reliable?

Vote Together, for the first time, actually did riding-specific polling for hotly contested ridings.  Waterloo was one of them.  They chose to use the results of their polling to say that people who didn’t want Peter Braid to take the riding again needed to vote Liberal.

But if you look at the actual polling data, their margin of error is about 4%.  They’ve got Chagger at a significant lead with 39% and Braid and Freeman fairly close at 31 and 26% respectively.  This isn’t the case that the NDP have no chance of winning, even by their own polling.  And the poll was taken a month ago.

Maybe now as the Liberals have the momentum local NDP support has fallen further, but do you know that?

Also important are other factors that may not show up in polling.  In the last provincial election, and the by-election that proceeded it, this riding went to the NDP.  Now the races and issues (and even the riding itself, now) are different, but what it does mean is die-hard NDP voters who might normally stay home because they think their party has no chance are emboldened and determined to come out and vote.  And that Freeman, a popular city councillor, has more name recognition on the ballot than, say, a Chagger or a Walsh.  The polls only ask about parties, not candidates.

Both the NDP and the Liberals have been making appeals to strategic voting, further muddying the waters.  And the NDP has been the most egregious here, honestly.  It’s a bit of a mess.

If you actually want to vote Liberal, that’s awesome.  I’d usually agree with you.  I actually prefer the Liberal economic plan and get really irritated by the populism of the NDP.  But C-51.

If you were thinking of maybe voting NDP, at least in Waterloo, I don’t think strategic voting is a good reason not to.  There are lots of other reasons why strategic voting’s bad for democracy, but here, now, I don’t think it even makes sense.

Proportional Representation

How to win Proportional Representation flyerWhile I know it won’t eliminate strategic voting, I do take heart that both the Liberals and NDP, who seemed destined to form the next government, barring a constitutional crisis, have promised to introduce some form of proportional representation before the next election.  And, from my perspective, it can’t come soon enough.

My friend Paul is giving a talk with Fair Vote Canada about proportional representation, hoping to capitalize on the disappointment and disenfranchisement that inevitably follows a First Past the Post election.  Come out to St John’s Kitchen on October 28th.

Election flyers


So there’s an election Monday.  Let’s get this over with first:

This blog endorses Diane Freeman for the riding of Waterloo.

I’m making this endorsement for two reasons.  One, I honestly think she’s the best candidate for the job.  And two, C-51.

Also the TPP, which has come along recently, but that only helped reaffirm my decision to vote NDP this time around.  We’ll get back to that.



C-51 is a travesty of a law, enshrining secret trials and creating secret police, eviscerating any remaining Internet privacy protection.  It needs to be repealed.  It can’t just be amended, slapping on a little bit of oversight.  It furthers the Conservatives’ agenda to criminalize dissent and flies in the face of our Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It cynically exploits the murder of a Canadian soldier to strip Canadians of the rights that our soldiers supposedly died for. Soldiers that Harper so dearly loves to talk about. Soldiers Nathan Cirillo was standing guard over.

It makes me so fucking angry.

I’m appalled that the Liberals supported this bill and even more shocked that they’d choose to defend it in this election campaign.  For that reason alone, I can’t vote Liberal this time around. Strategic voting be damned.

Two parties have pledged to repeal C-51: the NDP and the Greens.  So those are my choices.

More background reading about C-51:

Continue reading

Holding hands

Getting Married

Yup.  Ellen and I are getting married. This Sunday.

I’m nervous.  Not about the being married part—I’m totally at peace with that. I’m nervous about how the day will go, will it meet everyone’s expectations, and so forth. Which is probably normal and it’ll be fine and you’re probably going to counsel me not to worry about it, except I do worry because I want Ellen to be happy with things, or at least not disappointed.

I think she feels similarly, in different ways, about me.

I don’t talk about Ellen much here, or elsewhere online. A long time ago she asked me not to, so I’ve stuck by that. That’s part of why I’ve posted less, and what I’ve posted has been less personal. As Ellen’s become more and more of my life, it gets harder and harder to talk about my life and leave her out of it. So I’ve just talked less.

Wedding planning in general is stressful. And we’ve crammed it in a shorter-than-traditional amount of time. Neither of us, though, really wanted the wedding planning stage of our relationship to consume our lives for longer than necessary, and it’s been pretty consuming. So we’re a bit crunched. And it’s not the expertly planned and executed extravaganza it could be. But I do hope it will be a nice day with friends and family as we publicly affirm our commitment to one another.

That’s what I’m shooting for, at least.

Also, I get to wear a nice suit.


If I can get my suit in time.

Sense8 character collage


Finished season 1 of Sense8. It is not a good show. It’s self-indulgent and nonsensical, brimming with melodrama and an unearned sense of its own importance.

I loved it anyway.

I think because I really just like the characters.  You spend a lot of time with them.  They all lead improbably complicated and dangerous lives.  You’ve got a Chicago cop, kick-ass Korean MMA fighter lady, Kenyan bus driver (which, it turns out, is more complicated and dangerous than it sounds), Icelandic DJ in London, trans-woman computer hacker in San Francisco, Indian research doctor and bride-to-be, German jewel thief and Mexican telenovella star.  And they can each channel each others abilities.  It’s a 90s or 2000s graphic novel quasi-superhero story.

And the fact that one of them is a telenovella star is the subtle hint that tells you how to frame this thing.  It’s supposed to be a crazy fantasy story.  So just go with it.

I do wish it spent more time digging into the science fictional premise.  But that’s my taste.

So much of this show is utterly ridiculous.  Bits of it are pointlessly gratuitous (in various senses).  I can’t justify liking it as much as I do.  But I do.


I’m enjoying reading George R R Martin’s take on the drama that is the 2015 Hugo awards. I’ll link to the boingboing summary as a launching page not because I think Cory has a clear-eyed, unbiased view of the situation (he doesn’t, even though I agree with him), but because it also links to an interesting set of blog posts by Bruce Schneier’s posts on voting systems, and I kinda love that stuff.

I’m a one-time Worldcon member who didn’t vote for the Hugos. I’m occasionally tempted to join as a voting member because you get free ebooks of all the nominees, but then I remember I never bother to read the pile of books I already own.

The Hugos are a clique. The clique is Worldcon. People who are popular regulars at Worldcon by and large get the nominations and win the trophies. But the Hugos are Worldcon’s. It’s their award. It’s weird to be in the room where they’re handing them out, because you kinda feel like you’ve crashed somebody else’s prom when they’re handing out prom king and queen awards. If you don’t go to prom or even to that school, I don’t really see how you’d expect to win those particular popularity contests.

I mean, they nominate stuff like video tapings of the previous year’s Hugo awards ceremony. Everything except for the fiction awards is kind of a joke. A good-natured joke, generally, but I’m not going to be looking to the Hugos to tell me what’s a good comic to read or movie to watch.

Now, you could argue whether the “most prestigious science fiction literature awards” should go to the prom kings and queens of Worldcon, but Worldcon is the hub of science fiction book fandom. Very good writers go there. If you’re a serious science fiction writer and you’re not going there, one has some justification to question your dedication to the field. And they do care about the quality of the work. And the Worldcon people do actually take the fiction awards very seriously. So I feel a bit sad that they’ve had this happen to them. Because the people rushing in to vote don’t care about the Worldcon community or history or whatever. They’re doing it for the lulz.