Every so often, the Conservative MP for my family's riding makes the mistake of sending a comments and feedback card to our house. Inevitably, my mother mails it back to the little grinning man in the picture covered in irate ranting and rude diagrams. She uses the term weasel liberally. Even as blue signs become outnumbered by orange and red, the grinning man from the Conservative party wins our riding time and time again.

If I can respectfully discount the Green and Communist parties, there are three big players in Canadian politics. People who own trucks and pronounce Iraq like Bush does fit in snugly with the Conservatives. But for those who have a compost bin they usually empty out, the choice isn't as clear. If you're looking to the left, you’ll have to make a critical decision when selecting between two options. If left versus right is the way most people see things, why are there three choices?

The Conservative Party won a majority government with less than half of the popular vote. It's like a third date Canada shouldn't have agreed to. Right-wing voters only have one real option, so they unite behind the Conservatives. The left are splitting between two parties that are nearly indistinguishable on the political spectrum.

This isn’t the case in the U.S. where, though a bit limited by the binary, the left-right battle can be played out at the polls. In Canada the left do not have a solitary party to rally behind.

Voters whose political views can be summarized as “anything but Harper” are getting strategic with their ballots. Their only objective is to defeat the Conservatives. Instead of choosing the party they like, they vote for the one with the greatest chance of winning. It becomes a question of confidence. How smug can Tom Mulcair's beard get? How often can Justin flick his hair back like a teen idol? It gets confusing and weird.

When I ask my gnome-like mother who will get her vote this year, she adjusts her faux fur vest (worn indoors because “October is when it gets nippy”) and turns into Winston Churchill. She holds a glowing stogie over her paper and thinks. Across Canada, indisputably all wearing faux fur vests, left-wing voters stand between two parties.

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