10/08/2015 08:15 EDT | Updated 10/08/2016 05:12 EDT

There Is Actually a Way to Guarantee Harper's Defeat

Canada flag brick wall background
tuk69tuk via Getty Images
Canada flag brick wall background

Short version: We found 16 special ridings that will change the outcome of the election. In these ridings: the Conservative candidate is ahead, one of the progressive candidates is a close second, while the other is a distant third but still has enough support to impact the result. Brampton Centre and Prince George are two examples.


In both ridings, the third-placed candidate has little chance of winning, but could guarantee the victory of his or her progressive counterpart.


There are 14 other ridings where the same thing could easily happen. If the Liberal and NDP parties cooperate in all 16 ridings, they will each take eight seats from the Conservatives, stopping the Conservative party from forming the government.

What can you do? Call and email your MPs and spread the word to get Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair to work together for Canada! A list of MPs you should contact is at the bottom of the articles.

Vote-splitting is a problem

Recent projections published by the CBC show the Conservative Party winning the election with 122 seats, even though the Liberal party has pulled ahead on popular vote (32.4 per cent). Two-thirds of Canadians are seeking change, yet we are two weeks away from another Conservative minority government -- an undemocratic outcome caused by a dysfunctional electoral system.


There is a way to end this, and it is easier than you think! There is a win-win proposition for both progressive parties, and for the Canadian majority who wants to defeat Harper while still democratically supporting their favourite progressive party.

We can fix our vote-splitting problem and guarantee Conservative defeat, without asking the Liberals or the NDP to concede.

A win-win solution

By latest projections, the Conservatives will win over half of their seats (65 of them) thanks to "vote splitting." These are ridings that will be won by the Conservatives even though the total progressive vote is more than 50 per cent. The easiest way to change the election result is by getting the progressive parties to cooperate and claim back a small portion of these seats.

The good news is that there are 16 ridings that will swing this election!

Currently, all 16 of those ridings are strongly favouring Conservative candidates. In eight of them, the NDP is a close second, while the Liberals are a distant third. The situation is reversed in the other eight. These are 16 ridings where Liberals and NDP should be working together!

If the Liberal party and NDP cooperate, they can claim these ridings back from the Conservatives, and each can win an additional eight seats. That means the Conservative party would lose all 16 ridings! One progressive party will form government, while the other will have a real chance of being the official opposition.

With recent CBC projections, this is what the result would look like:


The 16 ridings that can defeat Harper

These ridings are uniquely important because:

  • Conservatives have a defeatable lead (less than six per cent on average).
  • The progressive parties are in second and third places.
  • The party in second place is significantly ahead of the one in third (19 per cent lead on average)! Therefore, even when factoring in the most extreme polling errors, it is all but guaranteed that the party in third place is not going to win.
  • Finally, the party in third has a sizeable number of votes (18 per cent on average) that can meaningfully impact the election result.


Because it is the right thing to do

The 16 candidates that are called upon to endorse their progressive peers have a unique opportunity to show an exemplary sense of leadership in helping Canada defeat its electoral problem, and possibly its worst prime minister.

Liberals and NDP have spent the last nine weeks campaigning for change. Now it is time to prove their commitment to it. By supporting the other party in eight ridings, they lose nothing. And in the process, both gain critical additional seats.

Above all, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair get to prove that they can put Canada's best interests above petty politics.

Why this is the most practical solution

Strategic voting is a politically-aware populace's solution to systematic electoral defects. It requires ground-up campaigns to inform and engage the electorate, and there are now various organizations in Canada doing just that. But it also requires reliable polls to guide the voters.

When it comes to tight races, strategic voters face a number of challenges:

  1. Polling results cannot be trusted when races are within the poll's historical error margin.
  2. The voters find it particularly hard to vote strategically for a less desirable candidate, especially when their favourite candidate is still within striking distance.
  3. Voters are concerned about throwing their vote away in a failed attempt at strategic voting.

We must acknowledge these barriers when proposing a voting strategy in order to rally the necessary voter support.

The proposed 16-riding strategy addresses these problems: voters are only encouraged to vote for a less desirable candidate if their favourite candidate is not within striking distance (even when factoring in polling errors).

This approach only requires the cooperation of one-fifth of one per cent of voters (0.18 per cent), and every strategic vote for one party is offset by a vote for the other, thus not changing the overall popular vote outcome. With limited resources for grassroots organization, focusing on a small set of ridings where voters face the least amount of emotional resistance is the most effective way to make strategic voting work in Canada.

Are there moral or legal issues?

Political candidates have frequently stepped aside in favour of other candidates with a better chance of winning. While it is too late to get names off ballots, it is still possible for the 16 candidates who have no chance of winning to ask voters to support their progressive counterpart.

Let's take action!

First and foremost, we must encourage the Liberals and the NDP to cooperate in the 16 ridings. Calls, emails and social media campaigns directed at the leaders of the progressive parties are the best ways to advocate their cooperation:

A petition asking party leaders to cooperate has already garnered over 8,500 signatures.

We should also encourage the third-place candidates in the 16 ridings to endorse their progressive peers. You can find their contact info below.

Finally, if you are a voter in these ridings, vote strategically! Share this with your friends and neighbours, and encourage them to do the same.

Ridings to Vote for the Liberal Party

These are the ridings where the NDP supporters must vote for the Liberal Party candidate:

Ridings to Vote for the NDP

These are the ridings where the Liberal Party supporters must vote for the NDP candidate:

Dr. Ali Kashani is a serial entrepreneur with a background in data science and robotics. He is the founder of Sepio, a Vancouver company with the goal of digitizing all of the world's 3.5 trillion analog photos.

Special thanks to Nicholas Himmelman, Mohsen Ghafghazi, Oren Shklarsky and Nathan Ozog for their insight and help with the article.