Jordan: Today at long last Canada votes to be able to participate in a democracy like ours is a privilege no matter what you think of the choices in front of you to be able to make your voice heard in the most solemn of democratic Traditions.
Ah, no no look this election is almost over It Ends Tonight.
If by now you don’t know the platforms that matter to you and who you’re going to vote for then I can’t help you that was last week. In fact, it was last month and most of the last year all we can help you do today is throw your vote away. But if that does interest you then we have a podcast for you because all of those very serious policies that we have spent the past months closely examining they are not in fact your only choices there are other options and some of them may even restore your faith in that solemn democracy that I mentioned. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is kind of a big story at the very least. It is the last time we have to talk about campaign promises for a while Cormac McSweeney is our Parliament Hill reporter. He has dug deep into all the proper campaigns and some other ones. Hi Cormac
Cormac: Hey Jordan how’s it going?
Jordan: Oh it’s almost over are you gonna sleep for a week?
Cormac: I don’t know it all depends on what this next government is going to look like we could be into Coalition territory or you know bickering over minorities and who has the right to lead. It could be a while before I get some rest, but I think like a lot of people across the country. I’m happy that voting day has finally come after what’s been a.
A long and gruelling campaign.
Jordan: Why don’t you start by telling me about Maxime Bernier, but not that one.
Cormac: Yeah Maxime Bernier not the leader of the People’s Party. But the candidate in boasts for the rhinoceros party. The Rhinoceros Party is a fun political party. They use satire. And humour to try and get people engaged again in the political process and in I know it’s a fun way to look at politics.
But you know, they’ve done this before in the past where they decide to run a candidate in a party leaders riding and that candidate has the exact same name As that party leader and so in this election, they’re going after the people’s party leader Maxine Bernier and they have a candidate with the exact same name.
They have done this before as well. There was a guy named John Turner who end up against the Prime Minister and liberal leader. John Turner back in the 80s. So
Jordan: So they’ve been around for a while.
Cormac: They have been around for a while. So this is the fascinating thing the rhinoceros party a lot of these Fringe parties that we see in the election.
Some of them have been around for a while, but they go through a lot of changes and and they may have been here for decades, but they had to take a break for a number of Elections and then they get re-registered again under sort of like. A new upstart somebody, you know takes the reins and brings it back from death.
And that’s that’s the story of the rhinoceros party. It’s been around since the 60s and they took a big break I think in the 90s and and then they came back again in the late 2000s. And have started to build up steam again under a new leader who was trying to really engage more people. He’s been on a cross-canada tour even but yeah, they like to they call themselves at a satirical political party.
They even have a full platform and and their motto has generally been. We like promise not to follow through on any of our election promises. And so they’ve got a history of just tongue-in-cheek fun on a lot of a lot of political issues. I did an interview with the leader of the rhinoceros party and he was promising things like.
A pipeline to transport poutine gravy across the country water and maybe even Montreal Bagels to other parts of the country. They want to make Tim Hortons the National Church of Canada, right? Because it’s where most Canadians congregate and then they want to turn it into a missionary so that they can spread Tim Hortons across the world.
These are the sorts of things that that they’re advocating for in their platform. But you know, some of their promises are just poking fun at some legitimate issues that are being discussed by the main Party leaders such as pipelines and they’re just trying to re-engage a portion of the electorate who may be fed up with normal Federal political parties and the political scene.
And their whole goal is to just really re-engage those people who have lost interest in politics some fun in this election that has otherwise been rather. Nasty. Yeah.
Jordan: So we’re going to talk about Fringe parties today. Is there actually a definition for them in terms of where they have to be out in the polls or what what qualifies them as a fringe party.
Cormac: Not really. I mean we use the term Fringe party just because it’s a way to explain those parties that are lesser-known. They don’t have the same type of support as the main contenders that will never a lack of Vermont. Not likely. No, I’m sure there are some people who are running Fringe parties with the hopes that they could possibly build some sort of political momentum or movements.
But a lot of the people who are running these Fringe parties are realistic about their chances. They know they’re not going to form government, but they want to try and press on a number of different issues that you know, they feel very passionately about and and that’s great. It’s all a part of democracy, but there’s no.
Exact definition for a fringe party. But if you look at the numbers for how many votes people get really it’s very easy to see who’s Fringe and who’s not because the drop-off from the green party and the 2015 election which received 600,000 votes to the party that came just behind them. Which I guess would be Independence.
They’re not really a party but the closest vote were independent candidates and they got 40,000 votes, right? So from 600,000 votes down to 40,000 votes and I think anything below 40,000 votes which were the independence any other party would be considered Fringe.
Jordan: So, why did you spend, you’re a Parliament Hill reporter?
This is a real election campaign. Why did you spend your time in the middle of this election doing it? Was it just for a break?
Cormac: Kind of yes, but at the same time, I think I believe I’ve done it for the last two elections as well. And this is my third election as a Parliament Hill reporter. I wanted to focus on these other parties because this is a democracy in Canada is not the United States.
We don’t just choose between one or two parties or three or even four. I mean, look at this election compared to the last one where it seemed like there were only three contenders and maybe the greens as a possibility. Now we had debates with six different party leaders on the stage the dynamic and Canadian politics is changing a little bit at the moment and we’ll see how it looks, you know tomorrow and Beyond.
I want to let people know that if you’re ticked off with what you see from those top six Party leaders and you don’t like what their parties are putting forward in their platforms and your kind of sick of politics and say nobody really speaks to what I believe in well. It’s not just six parties that you have to choose from.
There are many other parties that are offering something now. The issue is with these Fringe parties as they’re not widespread. They don’t have candidates in every single riding. They’re rather small and so you might have some that only have three candidates and so it’s unlikely that voters will be able to support them.
But there are some who have dozens of candidates across the country in different provinces and they might be running. In your ridng and so if you actually do truly believe in what some of these other Fringe parties are calling for and standing up for then rather than not visiting the pole and not casting a ballot you could cast a vote for.
A lesser-known party that might be advocating for something that you do believe in and there are a wide variety of topics that that some of these Fringe parties are pushing for.
Jordan: So tell me tell me about some of those tell me about some of the ones that you encountered. I know the rhinoceros party is fun and satirical and has a big history.
But what are some of the ones that are kind of issue based political parties that might attract some people’s interest.
Cormac: Yeah, so one would be the animal protection party the name kind of says it all. Of course. They are really focused on the protection of animals. Their belief is that we should be shifting away from using animals for commercial purposes and that we should be moving as a country towards. Basically a vegan lifestyle vegetarian vegan lifestyle because you know, they think it’s wrong and so what they’re advocating for is to set up a Ministry for the animals. They want to give animals the same rights as people get and so, you know abuse of animals would be taken off the table they also.
Are realistic they know this wouldn’t happen overnight. And so what they’re really pushing for is to slowly change Canadians Lifestyles to move away from the need of animals such as one of the things they’re pushing for is to cancel subsidies for animal Agriculture and shift those subsidies and double up for farmers who focus on.
Vegetarian plants of the plants that we eat. So if they’re going to be growing crops that we will consume that’s a way that you know, we will. Lower the prices for the food on our grocery shelves that would be vegetarian based and you would likely see an increase in the price of meats. And therefore you would sort of just by consumer behaviour shift people towards you no vegetarian Lifestyles.
And so that’s something that they’re pushing for their realistic. They know they’re not going to actually, you know, elect any MPS and they only have a. Full of people who are actually running but the leader who I spoke with said, you know, all we want to do is try and influence the larger parties that this is something they should take seriously and we’re putting concrete proposals on the table to try and shift that you have other other parties like the Communist Party of Canada.
It’s been around for a long time. People I think can figure out who the Communist party is and what they’re pushing for. But you know, they’ve been around they’re running candidates in this election and they’re hoping to shift the country towards a more socialist socialist form of government and try nationalize things like the energy sector so that we can actually tackle.
The the issue of greenhouse gas Emissions on that note you we also have the stop climate change party another Fringe party wear it pretty much says it all and it was but then for you’d never guess but they’re environmentalists, but you know, they’re they’re pushing. For ambitious ambitious action to try and deal with the issue of climate change.
And so, you know, you have all these different parties. There’s also the Veterans Coalition party, you have the United Party of Canada. They’re more trying to start a conversation on a wide variety of topics. There are a couple of other parties sprinkled throughout that are standing up for not just one issue but a number so they would fall under the category of people who are.
Just generally trying to start more of a political movement. And then you have as well, you know, the Christian Heritage party. So people who are focused a little bit more on on their religious points of view. So you have a lot of different a lot of different parties standing for a lot of different things
have any of these parties ever want to see them Parliament?
Kind of so I mentioned the Communist party and the Communist party has been around for a long time. I think since like 1921, but the issue is at times the Communist Party. Was banned in Canada and and they weren’t allowed to run candidates and things like that. They’ve been an on-and-off-again party.
There was an MP back in 1940 who had run under the label of the unity party and they won and they held a seat in the House of Commons and it wasn’t until later that they had revealed they were. A card-carrying communist the whole time and so the Communist Party says, you know, yeah, we’ve elected a member to the House of Commons.
But you know, it’s one of those things most of these Fringe parties that are registered right now have not elected people to the House of Commons. But if you go through the history of the House of Commons there have been a lot of smaller parties that have popped up here and there throughout our history and don’t remain anymore who have elected.
Members of parliament and you know our Parliament hasn’t just been liberal or conservative. It’s been kind of a different style of makeup for a very long time and if a fringe party can really get enough of a vote centered around a single candidate, they could potentially stand a chance but most of these Fringe parties.
Likely don’t have a chance and I thinks that’s why most of them realize that what they’re doing is more advocating for a cause than actually, you know, trying to form government.
Jordan: I’m not asking you to comment on your own political views, but when you talk to these folks who seem so idealistic I would imagine was there anyone that really kind of captured your heart as like, you know, they’re up against such long odds, but they’re still they’re still fighting.
Cormac: You know, I know we talked a lot about the Rhino party and I like them for the fact that you know, they’re using humor in such an interesting way in our political discourse, but I’ll set them aside and look at some of the other parties. I think you know the. The leader of the and I didn’t get to talk to all of the leaders of the different Fringe parties.
Jordan: But how many are there?
Cormac: Well, there are 21 registered parties in this federal election that includes the top six. So we’ve got 15 so-called Fringe parties who are running in this election. So, you know, there are quite a few but in terms of those who really stood out to me for the ones that I was able to speak with.
The animal lions are animal protection party. They used to be the animal Alliance. But now they’re the animal protection party. It was interesting to speak with their leader Liz white. She had her head on her shoulders. She knew exactly where she stood in the grand political scheme of things. She really made her argument and she had some policies to lay down not just.
You know values stated on a website, you know, they’ve thought about how they would want to see our laws change not to say that other parties don’t you know, I had a great conversation with the candidate for the Communist Party who was laying out his beliefs as well and. You know a lot of these people are not just blind to certain things such as when I discuss things with the Communist candidate.
I said, you know communism does not get a good reputation in Canada. And how do you battle things like the negative views from let’s just look at the Cold War for instance and the Soviet Union and he said we realize that we get that we know that it hasn’t worked in every single country around the world, but we want socialism in a Canadian context and so.
You know, they’ve really thought out their arguments the leader of the marijuana party because that’s still a thing despite legalization coming into Force. He’s not happy with what he’s seen from the Trudeau government. He says there’s so much that was left out of the legalization regime that they were fighting for before Trudeau came to power that they still need to fight for now.
Basically. He said he wants to see marijuana and cannabis treated. Like coffee so that you can just buy it on the grocery store shelf and they think that the increased penalties for people who let’s say sell to minors or sell on the black market those increased penalties. They believe actually makes more criminalization of marijuana than less criminalization of marijuana.
So they’re arguing that. Worse now, but you know, they’re fighting for something. They’re passionate about a cause. I think everyone I spoke to was really passionate about what they were doing. And that’s that’s my main takeaway is that the people who start these parties or are involved in these parties are really really passionate about trying to change, you know, the course of politics in Canada and hoping to just make that change about whatever that main issue is that they’re really trying to push in the selection.
Jordan: So if people don’t like the results tonight, can they start a party tomorrow? How hard is it? What do you need?
Cormac: I don’t think you could really start a party in just a day, but it might be a lot easier than some people think right.
Jordan: What are the first steps what you got to do?
Cormac: Well first you have to find members for your group, so.
You need and this is the thing a bare minimum of 250 electors as members of your upstart party. That’s not a lot 250. If you want to be a registered Federal party in Canada, you need to have at least 250 members, but the real work sort of comes behind the scenes. You got to make sure you have official agents.
You have to have you know officers Within. Your party and then as well, there’s a lot of paperwork to do you have to make sure you file things appropriately with elections Canada. You have to make sure that if you know, if you do happen to get registered, there are a lot of requirements for political parties after that point such as annual fiscal reporting statements of assets and liabilities maintaining accurate membership list, you have to prove to elections Canada that you can have systems in place to protect privacy of the members that you actually have.
You have to maintain a consistent number of agents and officers within your party. If somebody goes you got to find a replacement all that sort of stuff. You have to have an outside auditor that will look after your books and your funds and make sure that everything’s on the level. So, I mean there’s a lot of work that is required to run a federal party, but.
When it comes to the actual requirements of what you really need aside from, you know, maybe a handful of people who are really passionate about what they do know how to handle some paperwork you need 250 members to sign on and say I want to join this party. You also need somebody to run. That’s the other thing you can be eligible and and submit your application to elections, Canada.
And then there’s that waiting period before the next election hits and so you have eligibility before you actually become registered and it’s not until you actually have a registered candidate with elections Canada that you would become registered. So there’s there’s a waiting period And if you click on any of these Fringe parties on the elections Canada website, they’ll say eligible for let’s just hypothetically say 1997 but registered in.
2000 or something like that. So there’s a waiting period until you can actually get those candidates in there. You could do it at a by-election if that’s what you want to do run a candidate in that but it’s not as hard as people think you don’t need to be the conservative party or the liberal party or the NDP.
You don’t have to have people in every Province running for your party or someone for every. You can be a small upstart and focused on a small region of the country even and still be a registered Federal party.
Jordan: See you go be the change you want to see in the world.
Cormac: That’s it. And you know, what if you’re sick and tired of all the stuff you’re seeing from the main parties. Take a look at these all these other parties some of the might speak to you. Some of them may discussed you and turn you off even more who knows but there are definitely options out there and and you know, we’re focusing on Fringe parties. There are also a lot of independent candidates that run in the election the odds are definitely against them because they don’t have the same supports that people who run under party banners get but at the same time they’re passionate about what they do.
They want to make change and they want to push for sometimes. It’s specific issues. Sometimes it’s more broad. They want to be your MP. They’re taking part in the political process. Take a look at your options. Do your homework find out what works best for you? There’s an argument to be had that our ballots should have a none of the above option which has been pitched many times before.
But at the moment we don’t have that so check out who’s running in your writing and see because you’d be surprised how many people are actually trying to become your political representative in Ottawa.
Jordan: Thank you Cormac.
Jordan: Cormac McSweeney Parliament Hill reporter for City News, for Rogers Radio, and for the Big Story.
Oh, I hope you get some rest. And that was the Big Story, for more from us you can head to thebigstorypodcast.ca. You can find us and talk to us on Twitter at @thebigstoryfpn. And you can listen to this podcast and if you still haven’t made up your mind go back to last week. We talked about all the policy you could ever want. I don’t care who you vote for today go vote. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk tomorrow.
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