CAW Identifies 40 Ridings Where Election Outcome Will be Determined -Urges Strategic Vote to Stop Conservatives

October 8, 2008


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The CAW has identified 40 very close ridings in English Canada which will be crucial to the outcome of next week's federal election.  It is these ridings which will determine whether Stephen Harper's Conservatives win the election, and with what form of mandate (minority or majority).

These 40 ridings reflect close two-way races between a Conservative and one of the opposition parties. In general, these ridings were determined by less than five percentage points of the popular vote in the 2006 election. Half of the 40 ridings identified are in Ontario.

Of greatest concern is a Conservative majority government, which would allow Mr. Harper to fully implement negative policies (such as free trade agreements, spending cuts, and foreign military involvement by Canadian troops) and to continue to ignore the plight of workers in hard-hit regions and sectors of the economy (especially manufacturing).

"But even with a minority mandate, the Conservative government did incredible damage to Canada's economic foundations and our social fabric, in less than three years in power," said Ken Lewenza, the CAW's National President.  "That's why the key priority for all progressive voters in Canada must be voting to defeat Conservative candidates."

"Our goal is to put Mr. Harper on the unemployment line, right beside the hundreds of thousands of workers who've lost their jobs under his government," Lewenza said.  Since Mr. Harper was elected in January 2006, Canada has lost nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs - including almost 20,000 jobs in the struggling auto industry.

Recent polls indicate that Conservative support has fallen badly due to its "do-nothing" approach to the current economic crisis, and its unpopular proposals for arts cutbacks, youth offenders and the environment.

In about half of the 40 slim-win ridings, following consultation with local CAW leadership and the competing candidates, the CAW is endorsing a particular candidate as representing the best chance of defeating the Conservative.  These recommended candidates include 9 NDP candidates, 10 Liberal candidates, and 1 Green candidate (Green Leader Elizabeth May, who is the best hope to defeat Defense Minister Peter MacKay in Central Nova).  Two CAW members are included on the list of strategic candidates who could well defeat a Conservative: Mike Shields in Oshawa, and Malcolm Allen in Welland. 

In the other ridings, the CAW encourages an "ABC" (Anyone But Conservative) strategy: leaving it to voters to determine which candidate has the best chance of defeating the Conservative.  Voters in these ridings will want to carefully review poll results and other information in the remaining days before the election, and then determine which candidate to support.  Voters are also encouraged to visit web sites such as http://www.democraticspace.com/, which compile information to assist voters in most effectively voting against a Conservative majority.

Beyond these slim-win ridings, the CAW is also supporting some 30 other NDP candidates in winnable ridings in English Canada (including all incumbent NDP MPs).  These include CAW members Peggy Nash and Peter Stoffer, running for re-election in Parkdale-High Park and Sackville-Eastern Shore, respectively. 

Meanwhile, in Québec the CAW supports the campaign of the Bloc Québecois as having the best chance of defeating Conservative candidates. Rising support for Bloc candidates has undermined Mr. Harper's chances of winning a majority.  However, if the Conservatives win enough close seats in Ontario and B.C. (as a result of a split vote among the opposition parties) he could still win majority power.

For this reason the CAW is stepping up its call for members and supporters to vote for the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative.  For a printable pdf of the strategic ridings, click here.