In 1993 the Progressive Conservative Party was nearly wiped off of the electoral map. Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne were the only two MPs left as they began to rebuild the party. To fill the rigth wing gap the Reform Party (which later became the Canadian Alliance) was born. The two right wing parties kept splitting the right wing vote allowing the Liberals to walk away with virtually uncontested majority governments. In order to stop the vote splitting Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay merged the two parties Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party. Under the leadership of Stephen Harper the party shifted towards the centre and became Harper Prime Minister.
Under the leadership Stephane Dion the Liberals have been backing off from the centre and taking a sharp turn to the left. This has encroached on traditional NDP territory. At the same time the growing support for the Green Party has also encroached on NDP territory. The Green Party is percieved as a left wing party because of their support for the enviornment and soical programs. Their economic plans are more of a right wing nature.
In the last election a big deal was made about the scary Conservative Party and their hidden agenda. Part of the election campaign focused on how to prevent the Conservatives from taking power rather than voting for the party of choice.
The vote against the Conservatives at any cost segment of the population is out in full force again. Elections Canada has ruled that it is legal for people to agree to swap votes to legal. They have warned that there is no way to gaurentee that the agreement has been abided by. They also warned money cannot be exchanged for votes.With a greater focus on swing riding by pollsters making education decisions on strategic voting is easier than ever.
Elections Canada has made the correct decision allowing people to try influence the outcome of the election as long as they only cast one vote. It is better to vote for the party you believe in and lose rather than vote against the party you don't like and end up electing another party that you don't want. Parties set their election platforms based on what they think will get them elected. Putting the focus on negative voting takes away the need for some parties to focus on important issues and puts more stress on just being different than the part being rallied against.
The Liberals and Green Party already have an agreement to trade the ridings of their party leaders. In the stretch run will they ask more party members to engage in more vote swapping in order to stop the Conservatives. That would be really unfair for those candidates that have spent lots of time and money trying to get elected.