Getting to know your neighbours: Political Fringe Parties in the 2011 Canadian Federal Election

A few nights ago, a tall woman wearing tight black pants and an incredibly accentuating tank top began dancing on a table at a popular Montreal bar, while a few tables away I was having a particularly heated political debate with some friends. During her theatrical debut, we found ourselves wondering who this woman was going to vote for in the upcoming election, or if she would even roll out of bed on May 2nd at all. After making our predictions, I walked up to her and asked. She laughed it off and after some nervous hesitation finally admitted that she didn’t really know who was running, but would probably “just vote Liberal.”

I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most people would be very hard pressed to find a Canadian citizen who has not heard about both the Liberal and Conservative parties – the tired default options of far too many politically uninspired Canadians. Most people who haven’t been leaving their homes blind-folded these past few weeks probably even know about the Bloc, the Green Party and the NDP.

What so many Canadians don’t know is that they have even more choices than that!  Did you know that Canada actually has 18 registered political parties and several candidates running as independents this election? We as citizens hold the power to potentially make this country’s political system proportionately representative of all of our values.

I will address strategic voting in depth in my next article, but before I continue, I would just like you to keep one thing in mind before you consider a vote for the underdog a waste. Per-vote subsidy, which is granted to any party who garners more than 2% of the popular vote or more than 5% in a given riding. Both of which are a long shot for all of these parties, but if you happen to believe in one of them, and they happen to be running in your riding, I urge you not to forfeit your civic duty.

Due to a lack of funding, may of these parties are only running a few candidates and none of them may be on the ballot in your riding. But in the spirit of hammering away at the Americanisation of Canadian politics and in a vain effort to nurse our fragile multi-party system back to good health, to re-marginalize the marginalized, I would like to introduce to you the others.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

Introducing the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada. Founded in 2005, the AAEVPC “stands for just and equitable human progress that respects, protects, and enhances the environment upon which we all depend and the lives of the animals with whom we share our world.”

The AAEVPC “campaign[s] in elections in order to give environmental and animal protection issues the political relevance necessary to make governments proclaim sound and well-enforced environmental and animal protection policies, laws, and regulations.”

The AAEVPC is not running with the intention of becoming the next government of Canada. Rather, their goal is to lobby for better environmental and animal protection through governmental participation. Specific goals included in the party’s statement this year include ending Canada’s commercial seal hut, reforming factory farming, promoting a vegan lifestyle, improving wildlife polices and the development of ecologically sustainable agriculture.

In 2008, the party ran four candidates in the Toronto area and captured an average of 0.28% of the  vote in the ridings they ran in. This election they will be running 7 candidates primarily in the Toronto area.

The Communist Party of Canada: Marxist-Leninist

If you live in either Mount-Royal, Papineau, Laval, Bourassa, Hochelaga, Rosemount La Petite-Patrie, Notre-Dame de Grace – Lachine or LaSalle – Emard, the Communist Party of Canada-Marxist-Leninist is running in your riding! Founded in 1970, the Marxist-Leninist party is the largest of the so-called ‘fringe parties’ of Canada, with about 70 candidates running throughout the country this election.

According to their website, the purpose of the Marxist-Leninist party is to form a “new, modern, truly democratic society in which people are sovereign is the urgent requirement for Canadians to free themselves of the legacy of the country’s 19th century colonial foundation.  The creation of such a society is the immediate aim of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), consistent with its long-term aim of creating a socialist society as the transition to communism.”

If elected, the CPC-ML promises to drastically increasing funding for social programs, healthcare and education, along with the nationalization of all banks. They will introduce a new and revised constitution that will include a non-discrimination clause addressing language, race, religion, origin, age, lifestyle, gender, ability and wealth. The CPC-ML supports Quebec’s right to self-determination and any Aboriginal peoples who were treated unjustly or harmed in the past would be granted indemnity payments.

The party also plans on pushing for the democratization of the United Nations so that all member countries will have equal weight in the decision making process. It will oppose the blockades against Cuba and North Korea. The Marxist-Leninist Party will form a so-called “anti-war government,” this includes reviving the principle of noninterference, ensuring a peaceful coexistence between nations and an immediate withdrawal from NORAD and NATO. The Marxist-Leninist Party will bring home all Canadian troops around the world upon election.

In 2008, the party captured 0.06% of the popular vote, down from 0.17% in 1974. The current leader of the party is Anna Di Carlo.

Communist Party of Canada

The CPC-ML is not to be confused with Canada’s other Communist party, the Communist Party of Canada. The CPC has been around for 90 years and is Canada’s oldest communist party and the third oldest political party in Canada. Like the Communist Party of Canada – Marxist-Lenninist, CPC’s ambition is socialism to lay the groundwork for an eventual communist Canada. The party argues that only socialism can lead to a true democracy in which a Canada exists that puts the interests of the majority first. Their platform includes the creation of a nation-wide strategy for full employment, a tax reform that targets the very top, the nationalization of energy, natural resources and banks. They will also implement a foreign policy based on peace and disarmament.

Some of their most vocal and immediate demands this election include the prompt withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, an end to the war in Libya, the breaking of all diplomatic ties with Israel, free education for all, a public childcare system and putting people before profits. I urge you to check out their comprehensive party platform and a very interesting history of communism and capitalism in Canada.

The Communist Party is fielding 20 candidates across the country. In Montreal, the CPC is running in Westmount-Vile-Marie, Hochelaga, Laurier-Ste-Marie and Outremont. In 2008, the Communist Party captured 0.03% of the popular vote.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Next on the list is the Christian Heritage Party of Canada (yes, we have one too). No surprise here, the CHP is a socially and fiscally conservative party. It was born in 1986 in Hamilton Ontario, primarily out of the belief that Canada was failing to protect the rights of the unborn child.

Here is a taste of their platform: The CHP plans to introduce a family allowance that would grant families with young children a payment of $1,000 a month if one parent remains at home with the children. This policy is derived of the belief that daycare centers cause harm to children. The CHP will “appoint a Royal Commission, and give it the authority to do a thorough examination of [same-sex marriage] and suspend the legislation that allowed same-sex ‘marriages’ until the enquiry is complete.”

The CHP also intends to refurbish the justice system so that instead of remaining behind bars, non-violent offenders will be required to pay restitution to their victims. It also intends to invest in rehabilitation programs for prisoners who pose a threat to public safety, however, the CHP also claims that it will restore capital punishment. They will charge young offenders who commit so-called ‘adult crimes’ as adults, and they will also revoke voting rights from prisoners. The CHP is in favor of scraping the long gun registry and argue that all citizens of Canada have the right to bare arms.

The CHP claims that “more and more Canadians are beginning to realize that the ‘supremacy of God’ clause in [the Canadian] Constitution is the most important bulwark protecting our democracy and the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience for all Canadians—and only the CHP is committed to the protection of that principle.” The party also believes that Canadian civil law should be based on biblical law and that “decision-making processes by civil government must not in any way contravene…Biblical ethics.”

With regards to immigration, the CHP would require all immigrants to adopt Canada’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage,’ and would further specifically require the abandonment of any Islamic culture. This includes the donning of the burqa and the similar head dressings in public. Any violation of these laws will result in immediate deportation. In fact, CHP promises to “implement a moratorium on immigration from any Muslim nation.” With regards to refugees, the CHP will require new non-christian refugees to participate in faith based training programs.

CHP’s economic platform includes the introduction of its “Fair Tax” program. This program would replace federal income tax with a national retail sales tax.  They will treat Canada’s national debt like a “mortgage,” they speculate that through monthly payments of principle and interest, Canada will be out of debt within 35 years. If elected, the CHP promises to invest heavily in research and development of low cost clean water technology and infrastructure.

The CHP’s healthcare platform includes increased privatization of Canada’s health care system, the elimination of funding for abortion, building better hospitals and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

On their website, the party argues that “”greenhouse gases” are  not  pollutants. [They] are essential to agriculture—and indeed, to all life on earth. Furthermore the global temperature does  not  follow CO2 levels (as IPCC computer models assume), it  leads  it. That is, higher global temperatures cause rising CO2 levels, not the other way around.” They urge voters not to vote for any party that perpetuates the ‘myth’ of global warming.

CHP is running 31 candidates this election, with three candidates running in Quebec. In 2008 they captured 0.19% of the popular vote.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

Rhinoceros Party

Next I would like to welcome Canada’s infamous Rhinoceros Party, also know as NeoRhino. Just a heads up, if you live in Montreal, you can only vote for this party if you reside in the  LaSalle-Emard riding. They also have candidates running in Trois-Rivieres and  Chicoutimi-Le Fjord.

The Rhinoceros Party is the successor to the original Rhino party, known as the Rhinoceros Party of Canada. It was established in 1963, by Jacques Ferron  as Canada’s first national joke party.  The name for the party was derived from the similarities Ferron found between between Canadian politicians and the animal.

“[They’re] thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted [creatures who] can move fast as hell when in danger and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces,” he once explained.

When asked one day what his party would do if elected, Ferron replied, “same as yours, nothing.” Although often criticized for their…silliness, the Rhinos argue that their party is as valid as any other because they are the voice of the people who no longer believe in the system.

Although they are a group of self-professed “imbeciles, licensed cretins [and]… cupboard anarchists,” the Rhinos have a serious message for the Canadian government that they send by capturing the fed-up vote. What a message it would send if instead of staying home on election day, just a tiny portion of those 40% of non-voters voted Rhino… In their prime, in 1980, the Rhinos captured 1.01% of the popular vote, in 2008 they got 0.02%.

Some promises the party has made over the years include repealing the law of gravity, creating the world’s biggest parking lot by paving over Manitoba, building taller schools to increase and promote higher education, damming the St. Lawrence river to convert Montreal’s streets into a series of Venice-like canals, converting Saint Catherine Street into the longest bowling alley ever, putting the Canadian Senate up for sale at an antiques auction, transferring Canada’s national debt onto a Visa card and renaming the country Nantucket.

They have also promised to build the worlds longest bridge, an ambitious project that would connect Vancouver Island with Newfoundland. They propose to reconstruct the Trans-Canada into a one-way highway and will initiate a counting of the 1000 islands as the result of suspicion that the United States have stolen some.  Oh, but don’t worry, I forgot to mention their campaign slogan: “We promise to keep none of our promises!”

The Pirate Party of Canada

Nope, the Pirate Party of Canada isn’t another joke party advocating that we all search for treasure while wearing striped t-shirts and eye patches. Founded in 2009, this nascent party stands  for information reform. The party is out to tackle inadequate copyright laws and push for the expansion and reform of online privacy laws. They also want to shorten patent terms and eliminate patents for  software, pharmaceuticals, business models, genes and life forms.

The party is also campaigning to increase government transparency via the internet.  The PPCA is running 13 candidates in Canada and one in Quebec, in the riding of  Laval—Les ÃŽles.

The Libertarian Party of Canada

The Libertarian Party of Canada began its journey as a political party in 1973 but only became an officially recognized political party in 1979. In 2008, they captured 0.05% of the popular vote. This election they are running 8 candidates, none of which are in Quebec. Similar in many ways to the more, uh, visible Tea Party in the United States, the Libertarians primary cause is to promote and protect the rights and liberties of the individual. This sounds nice, right? According to the Libs this entails reducing the size of the government to an absolute minimum so that its reach would only extend as far as the administration of justice and national defense.

They describe the government as a “force” that uses social welfare to unjustly and forcefully rob from those who have worked hard for their wealth only to redistribute it to the needy. They argue that welfare is damaging and often leads to dependency while also proposing to  eliminate all minimum wage laws.

Furthermore, the Libs posit that the government should play no role in the economic sphere of Canada. If elected, they propose to do away with government subsidies and licensing restrictions. The Libs are opposed to any taxation that is not intended to fund the justice or defense systems.

Furthermore, they argue that some of the remaining crumbs of government services should be funded by convicted criminals who would be expected to fund a large chunk of the justice system. Other ways they plan on lower taxes include abolishing social services and filling the military with volunteers.

By now, it should come as no surprise to you that the Libs are proponents of a privately funded healthcare system, they also oppose all public funding for education and compulsory education laws. They will repeal all non-violent criminal legislation and would thus legalize all drugs or any other substance and will grant amnesty to those punished for said crimes. This brings us nicely over to the next party I would like to introduce to you, you guessed it, the Marijuana Party.

The Marijuana Party of Canada

After Marc-Boris St-Maurice was found guilty of possession of marijuana in 1991, he became a Marijuana activist which eventually led to the Marijuana Party of Canada‘s formation in 2005. The Marijuana Party’s  only official party platform is the decriminalization of marijuana and the subsequent amnesty to those being punished for marijuana-related crimes.

The  party is a lobbyist party and does not exist for the purpose of becoming the next government of Canada. In fact, the party  even endorses strategic voting against the Conservative Party. They posit that members are under no obligation to vote Marijuana and many Marijuana candidates have openly supported the NDP, Green and Liberal parties.

In 2008, the party received 0.02% of the popular vote. The party does not have any candidates running in Quebec.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

The Canadian Action Party

Nova Scotia-based former Liberal defense minister  Paul Hellyer created the Canadian Action Party in 1997 after considerable frustration with what he felt was a sort of colonization of Canada by the United States. He resigned in 2003  after his party was rejected for a merger with the NDP. The party’s current leader is Christopher Porter.  CAP is a left-leaning political party that advocates a fairer and more democratic Canada. CAP has five main pillars supporting its platform: monetary control, civil and human rights, sovereignty, parliamentary reform and the environment. Its proposed monetary reform include, re-empowering the Bank of Canada by increasing its role in servicing public debt, the re-institution of statutory reserves and a restructuring of the Canadian tax system. CAP proposes to replace the current Free Trade market and NAFTA with a fairer economic system. CAP proposes to replace the current Senate with a “Jury Senate” and urges an increase in the use of direct democracy in Canada.

The party is calling for a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, decreased military and increased peacekeeping budgets. CAP seeks to  “end the culture of war mentality that is driving the greed and lust for power, control and dominance of people all over the world. CAP seeks to promote policies, which support peace and freedom for all.” CAP is running one candidate in Quebec in the  Mégantic-l’Érable area and 12 in total.  In 2008 the CAP  received 0.03% of the popular vote.

The Western Block Party of Canada

The Western Block is, yep you guessed it, a Western separatist party – the Bloc is fighting for Western Canada to become an independent state. The Block asserts that Western Canada has been marginalized over the past many years because Canada is controlled by Ontario and Quebec. Its founder, Doug Christie, became a separatist in 1975 and by 2005 became so fed up with Canada’s neglect for the West that he formed his own political party in an attempt to get out of Canada. Defending his position, Christie in a interview in 2005 said, “What’s good about Canada? Tell me one thing that Western Canada gets from Ontario and Quebec that they could not get better, quicker and cheaper somewhere else, including good government. We can govern ourselves, we’re not idiots. We’re capable of making better political decisions for ourselves than Ottawa’s 106 seats and Quebec’s 75 will ever do for us. We can govern ourselves much more effectively.” The full interview is available here. In 2008, the party received 0.00% of the popular vote. This election they will be running several candidates in…Western Canada.

The United Party of Canada

Founded in 2009, United Party of Canada is a party with one overarching vision: to unite the Canadian people, to amalgamate French, English, Aboriginal and Immigrant Canadians. But the party is not just some big love fest, they have a progressive and comprehensive platform. Once elected, UPC promises to cut taxes for families while cutting business rates for nascent businesses. They will create a $750 million a year program designed to train new workers with a focus of jobs in the sustainable energy sector. They demand capping credit card interest rates at 5% and propose to put an end once and for all to the Canadian penny. They will name a minister specifically committed to consumer affairs, and promise to go the extra mile in food safety. The party also proposes some interesting solutions to the current pension problem in Canada. They proses a mandatory system wherein both parties, the employer and employee will be required to contribute 5% of pay. They also propose to abandon the minimum income that dictates how much a person can obtain from the current Guaranteed Income Supplement program.

UPC proposes the creation of a ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income Level Program’ which would eventually replace federal income support programs. This program would guarantee that every Canadian receives a minimum of about  $1,564.40 per month.  They argue that this affordable program will not only eliminate virtually all of the poverty in Canada, but it will also increase health and safety for all Canadians. They posit that this program can easily be paid for by Canada’s Employment Insurance Program and would actually generate a surplus.

When it comes to the environment, UPC is pushing a fee for polluters of $10 a ton for greenhouse emissions, which will be set to rise every four years. This revenue, they argue, will end up back in the pockets of Canadians.

They will attempt to integrate dental care into our health care system and will create incentives for dentists to treat priority patients with actual priority. They are in favor of a ‘Pharmacare’ bill, that would decrease Canada’s drug expenditure by over $10 billion. With regards to abortion, UPC posits that Canadian woman have the right to choose, however tax breaks will be give to those who op for adoption over abortion.

They promise to scrap all post-secondary tuition so long as the student maintains a passing grade. This will be in addition to a guaranteed minimum income for post-secondary students. UPC promises to transform the prison system so that prisoners have a better quality of life, access to education and work. Some of the money made in prison by prisoners will be channeled to pay restitution to victims. They envision a future where new metal health facilities, rehab and drug treatment centers go up in place of new prisons. The party is also in favor of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana of less than one ounce.

The United Party of Canada is running Candidates in Ontario. In 2010, in a by-election in Vaughan, Ontario, UPC received 0.01% of the vote.

The Progressive Canadian Party

Founded in 2004, PC is a party committed to the progressive conservative agenda, they strive to keep what is good in our system while improving on what is needed. Their aim is to fill “the space on the political spectrum, where most Canadians are.” The party agrees with many Harper policies but would improve on, or change the following: they would initiate a universal post-secondary program that grants free post-secondary education for all; they seek to further increase trade with developing countries in order to stimulate their economic growth and global prosperity. As opposed to the conservatives, PC has a greener vision for Canada. They plan on greater investment in renewable energy. However, the major difference between Harper and PC is Afghanistan. PC proposes to form an alliance with Pakistan and India to bring about peace instead of continuing to attempt the so called “impossible.”

In 2008, the party earned 0.04% of the popular vote. This election PC is running 3 candidates, none of which are in Quebec.

The First Peoples National Party of Canada

The First People’s National Party envisions a government that truly puts all the people of Canada first. The party argues that Canada was founded on the shoulders of First Nations people and that the original Treatise between Canada’s colonizers and colonized based on mutual respect and cooperation was broken. The party calls for the government of Canada to honor those promises now. The party claims that “any country that continues to exclude its First Peoples from all levels of governance is a colonizing body. The snails pace of government in land-claim settlements and the light speed of resource development by foreign-owned companies are continued acts of colonization and cultural genocide.” The party is fighting first and foremost for inclusion, they advocate Senate reform and the formation of a First People’s House in addition to the House of Commons.  They propose the development of, and increased funding for sustainable communities and social programs and are dedicated to fighting poverty. The FPNP advocates respect of all cultural and spiritual beliefs.

William Morin, the party’s interim leader, argues that First Nations People generally do not vote because by doing so they would be forfeiting their sovereignty as First Nations people. Voting to many First Nations people is perceived as an act of encouraging further exploitation by legitimizing an abusive government. He also argues that First Nations leaders often find themselves in catch-22-like situations. Do they stand up to big business and an unjust government and risk losing the government funding they deserve and so desperately need for their people?

This election, the FPNP is running one candidate in Ontario, in 2008 they captured 0.01% of the popular vote.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

4 comments

  • it’s fascinating to learn about Canada’s minor political parties.

  • and a bit scary, I mean the existence of the Christian Heritage Party almost makes an argument for the “first past the post” system not being so bad after all, almost. Some of the other parties on this list are really interesting, though. Very informative.

  • Whatever happen to The Natural Law Party?
    I really liked there platform of mandatory morning yoga sessions.

  • I think the party’s only really active in India now

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