Tuesday, April 19, 2011

About That VoteCompass Thing

Over at CBC, they have a rather interesting tool called Vote Compass which is intended to help voters understand how their own values line up alongside the four major parties that are competing for electoral support this election.

Of course, Conservatives are whining loudly that it is "biased" because so many people come up considerably left of the CPC.

This is quite interesting, since the accusations of bias are quite strident, and I'm not so sure that the loudest objectors have really paid close attention. The basis for each and every answer is clearly provided in the detail analysis part of the poll, and it's quite clear that the poll designers have been very thorough in their research.

Let's go through the questions, and the answers for the CPC, shall we:

Defence: All Canadian troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree
Source: Ministers Cannon, MacKay and Oda Announce Canada’s New Role in Afghanistan

Defence: Canada should increase its military presence in the Arctic

CPC Answer: Somewhat Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
Conservatives are Defending Canada's Northern Sovereignty

Defence: How much should the government spend on the military?

CPC Answer: Somewhat More
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's Plan for Canadians

Economy: When there is an economic problem, government spending usually makes it worse

CPC Answer: Neither Agree Nor Disagree
Source: Harper Government Priorities: Low Taxes and Fiscal Prudence

Economy: The federal budget deficit should be reduced, even if it leads to fewer public services

CPC Answer: Somewhat Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
PM Replies to Speech from the Throne

Economy: Canada should seek closer economic relations with the USA

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
Conservatives Take Action to Strengthen Canada-US Trade

Environment: The environmental damage caused by the Alberta oil sands industry is exaggerated

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Peter Kent's Green Agenda: Clean up oil sands dirty reputation

Environment: Canada should adopt a carbon tax

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree
Source: Carbon tax 'foolish and unnecessary': PM

Environment: Environmental regulation should be stricter, even if it leads to consumers having to pay higher prices

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree
Source: Killed climate change bill flawed: Harper

Government Programs: How much of a role should the private sector have in health care?

CPC Answer: Somewhat Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Government Programs: The government should fund daycare instead of giving money directly to parents

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree:
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth

Government Programs: It should be easier to qualify for Employment Insurance

CPC Answer: Neither Agree Nor Disagree
Source: Budget 2010 - Leading the way on Jobs and Growth

Immigration and Multiculturalism: Speaking English or French should be a requirement for immigration to Canada

CPC Answer: Somewhat Agree
Source: Improvements to proof of language rules will increase fairness, reduce delays, says Immigration Minister

Immigration and Multiculturalism: How many new immigrants should Canada admit?

CPC Answer: About the same as now
Source: PM reiterates commitment to crack down on human smugglers who abuse Canada’s generous immigration system

Immigration and Multiculturalism: How much should be done to accommodate religious minorities in Canada?

CPC Answer: About the same as now
Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Law and Order: Violent young offenders should be sentenced as adults

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
Conservative Action to Strengthen Justice System

Law and Order: The long gun registry should be scrapped

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth

Law and Order: Possession of marijuana should be a criminal offence

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Conservative Government Plans to Fight Crime

Moral Values: The government should make it easier for a woman to get an abortion

CPC Answer: Somewhat Disagree
Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Moral Values: Marriage should only be between a man and a woman

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Moral Values: If they so wish, terminally ill patients should be able to end their own lives with medical assistance

CPC Answer: Neither Agree Nor Disagree
Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Parliamentary Reform: The Senate should be abolished

CPC Answer: Somewhat Agree
Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration

Parliamentary Reform: Political parties should no longer receive government funding

CPC Answer: Strongly Agree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
PM targets party subsidies

Parliamentary Reform: Only those who speak both English and French should be appointed to the Supreme Court

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree
Source: OpenParliament.ca

Quebec: The federal government should have a say when it comes to decisions about culture in Quebec

CPC Answer: Somewhat Disagree
Source: Prime Minister Harper and Premier Charest sign historic agreement establishing a formal role for Qu├ębec in UNESCO

Quebec: Quebec should be formally recognized as a nation in the Constitution

CPC Answer: Somewhat Disagree
Source: Duceppe demands Harper enshrine Quebec nation status in constitution

Quebec: Quebec should become an independent state

CPC Answer: Strongly Disagree
Source: Prime Minister Harper outlines his government's priorities and open federalism approach

Taxes: Workers should contribute more to their government pension plan (CPP/RRQ) so that it can offer bigger pensions

CPC Answer: Somewhat Disagree
Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth
Securing Retirement for Canadians

Taxes: How much should wealthier people pay in taxes?

CPC Answer: Somewhat Less
Source: Budget 2010 - Leading the way on Jobs and Growth

Taxes: How much tax should corporations pay?

CPC Answer: Much Less
Source: How Canada Got It Right: Prime Minister Harper Speaks to New York Business Leaders About Canada and the Global Recession

I've copied the list above of answers and sources straight from the VoteCompass site. In my own experiments on the questions, I have answered them both as I believe things should be, and using other perspectives. In all cases, I came up with results that were consistent with the kinds of answers that I fed to the survey. (This was spread over about ten iterations of the questionnaire)

It is possible that the weighting in the scoring system is questionable - I don't have access to the scoring software needed to understand that, but my own testing of the platform suggests that it is nowhere near as biased as the CPC faux media have been claiming.

I think that the real question that people should be asking themselves is whether or not the CPC positions as they are stated in both word and deed truly represent the kind of Canada that they want to see.

Go to VoteCompass and give the party platforms a close look compared to your own stated values. You might be surprised at where your views really land.

Remember that as a voter, the most important thing you can do is make an informed vote on May 2.

1 comment:

evilscientist said...

I think part of the problem, especially for a lot of Conservatives is that they aren't really that conservative. They identify with party without seriously examining what the party stands for because "they've always been Conservative". When their actual views are tested, they're anything but.

The reason for this is simple, most people tend to the centre of the political spectrum, even most of those who self identify as Conservative. However today's Conservative party is not a centrist party so any Conservative holding moderate views won't show up as a Conservative. Moderate conservatives are centrists and the only party in the centre is the Liberals.

The vote compass is actually a standard way of presenting political views and has been around for decades. From my view as a political scientist the questions for the most part weren't designed to push people to one particular party or another.