Meet the not-so-mainstream parties in the upcoming election

There are more than 20 unique parties running in regions across Canada

(Art by Kritsen Frier)

(Art by Kritsen Frier)

Most people don’t know that there are many more parties running for election this year in addition to the Liberals, New Democrats, Conservatives, Greens, and other parties we usually hear about.

Elections Canada currently lists 22 registered parties vying for seats this year. The CBC reveals that most of Canada never votes for or have even heard of most of the smaller political groups from that list due to larger parties overshadowing them, and because of their unorthodox approaches to politics.

“It’s very clear that parties like us, smaller parties, do not really have an opportunity to send people to Ottawa,” said Animal Protection Party of Canada leader Liz White in a recent CBC interview. Despite the party’s small size, 4,408 people supported White’s party in the 2019 election.

Despite the odds, these smaller parties are still committed to procuring votes and representing their ridings no matter what their chances are of winning. 

The fact that smaller parties struggle to campaign and acquire enough votes for seats is often talked about as being tied to Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system. Proportional representation is seen by these political groups as the solution to this problem. Under this system, every party would have seats equal to the number of votes they received during an election.

However, with first-past-the-post, parties earn seats in the House of Commons when their candidates win the most votes in their ridings and, in so doing, become MPs. Whichever political group has the most electoral districts post-election will form Canada’s new government. The party leader, in turn, will serve the country as its prime minister. 

Among the smaller parties in Canada is the Marijuana Party, which has its national headquarters located in Montréal, Québec, and is headed by party leader Blair T. Longley. As suggested by its title, the party’s platform historically dealt with decriminalizing marijuana for medical patients, sellers, and consumers. By making cannabis legal, the party aimed to accomplish related social justice goals, like pardoning those imprisoned for using the substance. Longley also shared the view that it is difficult for small parties to get enough votes for seats. 

“The Elections Laws are set up in every possible way to favour the big parties, while screwing the smaller parties,” said Longley in a 2018 interview with In-Sight Publishing

“The only founding policy beyond those related to ‘marijuana legalization’ was to change the voting system, such that there would be better representation achieved than the existing first-past-the-post electoral systems, which tends to wipe out smaller parties, while possibly giving total power to the dominant minority,” said Longley.

Another small and relatively unknown party is the Maverick Party, formerly called the Wexit Canada Party. They base their beliefs on guiding principles that advocate for citizens in Western Canada. The party hails from Calgary, Alberta, and is run by interim party leader Jay D. Hill, a former Conservative Party member. His platform covers the environment from abolishing national and provincial carbon taxes to supporting liquefied natural gas projects. 

The Maverick Party also has many commitments related to media. Not only do they believe in defunding the CBC, they even oppose Bill C-10, which would regulate social media and streaming services. Other topics the party remains committed to range from immigration to healthcare. Hill tailored his electoral strategies for gaining support to compete with the Conservatives. Still, the tendency for voters to gravitate towards more mainstream parties has not escaped the party leader during his July 23 interview.

“The reality is that we’re going to be running in a select number of ridings,” said Hill. “We have specifically targeted the strongest Conservative ridings where vote-splitting is a non-issue.”

The APPC, headed by White, is based in Toronto, Ontario. Their platform mainly focuses on what its party name suggests — the goal of protecting animals by advocating for their rights and environmental sustainability. 

If elected, the APPC promises to eliminate animal abuse by removing wildlife from situations that cause suffering commonly found in society from sports to scientific experimentation. For the food industry especially, the party aims to have Canada phase out meat, investing in more plant-based meals by 2030. 

In addition to protecting wildlife, the APPC aims to address climate change through plans like carbon pricing, ending subsidies for global warming’s top contributors, and halting pipelines. The party is especially passionate about supporting Indigenous self-determination and redefining reconciliation efforts to better confront Canada’s colonial history.

Aside from the APPC, there is also the Parti Rhinocéros, also known as the Rhino Party, in Rimouski, Québec led by party leader Sébastien CoRhino. This party specializes in using political satire to joke about politicians, while addressing problems with Canada’s democratic system. Their comedy became so famous across the country that even Pierre Elliot Trudeau once called the party “the court jesters of the nation.”

Much of CoRhino’s nonsensical humour is seen in the Rhino Party’s platform, as each item from his proposals is always introduced as “THE number one priority of the Rhinoceros Party.” 

While the party is committed to making sure everyone is employed, they also promise to create better safety conditions for factory workers by dressing them in bubble wrap. The Rhino Party is also passionate about Canadian identity by having the word “sorry” become Canada’s official motto. The party even plans to raise awareness about the environment, especially global warming, by bribing news anchors to give more pleasant yet false weather reports.

CoRhino told the CBC in a Sept. 3 interview about the challenges that small parties like his always face when trying to gain political representation in parliament.

“We have two political parties that have been the government of Canada for 150 years,” said CoRhino. “It’s very easy for the Conservatives and the Liberals to elect MPs, and it’s very hard for other parties.”