I was speaking at a conference in Chicago the day after the U.S. presidential election.

The night before, I'd gone to a bar to celebrate the election of the first female president and Trump’s loss. Or so the polls suggested.

Well ... I was not the only one hungover the next day.

No one I knew believed it could happen.

Believe it. Scheer can win.

Like the Republicans in the U.S., Canada's Conservatives have shown they're willing to play hardball to achieve victory. In recent elections, they were caught robo-calling from a cellphone registered to "Pierre Poutine," giving people wrong information about their polling location. And remember Harper cabinet minister Dean Del Mastro being taken away in handcuffs for “cheating” to win the 2008 election? That happened in 2015, seven years after Del Mastro violated election rules. The list goes on and on. The consequences for cheating seem to be so small and after the fact. They're vastly outweighed by the benefits of playing dirty to win.

Scheer's main promise is to help Canadians "get ahead" through fewer taxes. But Ontario Premier Doug Ford campaigned on this same promise, and you've seen the results since his election.

Ontario voters believed Ford’s promise to slash taxes and balance the budget. But instead Ford made savage spending cuts affecting vulnerable people across the province. He made massive cuts to environmental programs and policy aimed at cooling the climate. Just last week, an Ontario court ruled the Ford government illegally cut cap and trade.

It's an emergency, folks

We're in the midst of a serious climate emergency. Canada is warming at twice the rate as the world at large. Do you think Scheer, who has spent years trashing carbon pricing, will treat the climate or the environment as a priority? Look at the Conservatives' record. The Harper years saw massive environmental deregulation, and there's no sign that Scheer's leadership would be different.

Care about military veterans? The Harper Conservatives cut veterans programs by more than a billion. The Liberals reopened nine offices the Conservatives cut, offices that help vets with disabilities, PTSD and health-care issues.

Are women's rights high on your agenda? Consider the people vowing to help Scheer win a majority. He claims he won't reopen the issue of women's reproductive rights, but ask yourself about Scheer's anti-abortion beliefs, his voting record and why some voters were so happy he won the Conservative Party leadership.

Do you care about Indigenous communities, funding the CBC, the middle class, health care or those living in poverty?

Scheer was on TV recently dodging questions about whether Republicans and Trump advisors are supporting Canada's Conservatives behind the scenes. Asked if Trump advisors Mike Roman and Matthew McBain were helping Scheer's campaign, the Conservatives gave a response only denying that Roman works for the campaign.

If GOP strategists were helping the CPC, it wouldn't be the first time. In 2011, Ohio-based Republican Front Porch Strategies did campaign work for Conservative Party candidates. Stephen Harper, who still wields influence over today's Conservatives, leads a global organization that works to get right-wing leaders elected.

It makes sense why some would want to see Trudeau out of office. It seems U.S. Republicans would love nothing more than to get rid of a pesky Liberal government that promotes a carbon tax.

Please vote strategically

No party will ever do enough for the environment. But it looks to me like the Conservatives will roll back every single hard-fought gain that climate activists have achieved. You can count on that.

Hillary Clinton was not the perfect candidate for the Democrats in 2016, but voter cynicism and perfectionism gave America — and the world — President Donald Trump. Please don’t let this scenario repeat itself in Canada.

The rise of right-wing populism around the world means we live in a time when our choice is authoritarianism or defending liberal democracy, whatever the party.

So much is at stake. Cynicism only serves the privileged. We need all Canadians like you to fight for democracy. Vote strategically for the candidate with the best chance to defeat the Conservative in your riding. I am.

Harvey McKinnon is an author and a volunteer with the Canadian Veterans ABC 2019. If you’d like to learn more, visit www.CanadianVeteransABC.ca

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Based on the opinion polls and regional differences, Scheer's chances of a majority are next to none. He's simply going to sweep most Western seats, and maybe a few others, but this might also be why the Liberal Party abandoned it's pro-rep platform. The Liberals would have just enough support in the GTA and Atlantic Canada, maybe parts of Vancouver and Quebec as well.

Totally disagree with voting Strategically, that’s one reason our voting system is such a mess! Vote for the person you believe in, our great, great grammas went to jail to get the right to vote, we owe it to them to follow through. The West you say, hey there’s a whole province out here west of Alberta, we do NOT share the belief that if we don’t mine it someone else will. A third of our emissions are caused by destroying nature!! Vote to protect our planet. I’m lucky I have Elizabeth May to vote for. She may never be prime minister but we’re lucky to have her in Ottawa, she’s the only REAL politician in the whole bunch! Go Green this time and change the balance of power to the people rather than the corporations and the elite! Cheerio from Salt Spring Island

I agree about ‘ the west’ . I think BC must be the far, Far East as far as Ontario thinks about us.

I am very conflicted about this election. Do I vote with the NDP when provincially they didn’t stand with the people on pipelines and thus the climate? Do I vote Green when they can promise anything because they never have been in a position to make good on their promises? Do I vote Liberal when Trudeau has ignored BC, wasted money buying a pipeline ( with taxpayer’s money) that no one else wanted and that would certainly accelerate climate change. Do I vote for him just so the Conservatives won’t get in.? Never. I guess I will have to hope a minority government with either the NDP or the Greens hold the balance of power is elected. I am getting old and tired of politicians. I asked a Trump supporter why he voted for Trump. He said everyone was sick of politicians and their false promises. So please don’t get sick of voting and choose carefully.