Vote Compass

It’s only a matter of hours until the elections close in Ontario, sealing our fate for the next four years. Many say the election has been “bland” and “impossible to tell” (Canada.com): but that does not mean it is not important. Each of the leaders and individual candidates has a perspective that they represent, and it is essential that the rest of us manage to determine which of those perspectives aligns closest with our own. To many times we’re swayed by single-issues, or media “sound bites”, or who appears most “likable” (as was George W. Bush in the States: USA Today).

This election was a bit quiet: there were the usual debates and campaigns, and I’m sure that each of the parties had some direct supporters who swarmed to the events and made them look popular. As it turns out, the televised debates were watched by a significant portion of Ontario viewers (National Post) so there was some significant interest. All this suggests that there will be more voters today who turn out than in 2007, which was a record low of 52.6% of those eligible to vote (CBC). I hope so: with our federal government dominated by Conservatives and Toronto’s mayor Ford trying to sell everything in the city that’s not nailed down, we need one element of government to represent the people more than business.

When I went to vote this morning (bright and early at 9am): my voting “place” is a local Catholic School, and I hear the daily announcements as I used to hear them some decades ago. I was surprised by the total number of candidates who were running. In Canada (Ontario) we have three major parties, and at least that many more minor ones. (I had a bit of a difficult time deciding on a colour for the image at left… black was the only colour I could easily find was not taken.) It is important to do your research before going to vote, and not relying on divine inspiration in the voting booth. And sometimes we just don’t have time to explore all the candidates to determine who is our best “fit”.

So I was glad to find, some time ago, a little site developed by the CBC to help to identify who you would most agree with. The site was designed by political scientists, and tries to identify how your perspective aligns to the various parties. It asks 30 different questions, which you classify on a 5-point scale, between “agree strongly – agree – neutral – disagree – disagree strongly”. It comes out with a final plotting on a grid that expresses the standard variation in “social” and “economic” perspectives. I was less interested in where it put me overall, than where it put me in relation to the various parties. I was surprised by some of it, and explored some of the reasons why I was put where I was.

There is a strong (but slow) movement in Canada toward accountability and transparency. Thus the site not only plotted where you might lie, but allowed you to see where, with respect to each question, the parties and leaders also stood. It also allowed you (if you’re willing to take the time) to weigh each question so that it more accurately represents your perspective.

For those of us with busy lives and complex opinions, I think it really helped.

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