Canada has a multi-party system, but unlike the U.S. there are more than two viable parties to choose from in our system. We are used to hearing about the four (now five) so-called "main" parties: the Conservative party, the Liberal party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Québécois and the Green party. But those are not the only choices out there.

In fact, there are nearly a dozen other parties for a voter to consider. Here they are, in alphabetical order, with the abbreviations CBC.ca uses in the Ridings & Candidates listings:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada (AAEV)

The goal of the AAEV is to put environmental and animal protection issues on the national agenda. In the past, it used third-party status to try to influence the vote in particular ridings, to elect candidates with what they see as good environmental records.

aaev

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada.

But leader Liz White ran in the 2006 election, and the group has had candidates in byelections since then.

The party opposes the seal hunt, and plans to pursue that as an issue in the election. White also says the major parties are not talking enough about human impact on the planet. "We need to have a different relationship with both plant and animal species than we do right now," she says. They are planning to run candidates in Ontario.

The party website is here.


Canadian Action Party (CAP)

The party emphasizes Canada's sovereignty as a trading nation, opposing globalization and the free trade agreements signed by previous governments. The CAP believes that repeated borrowing from the private sector, instead of from the Bank of Canada, has sent Canadian money out of the country.

cap_new

Canadian Action Party.

The CAP advocates borrowing from the Bank of Canada to finance infrastructure, without building up foreign debt. Party leader Connie Fogel says globalization and trade agreements are leading to the corporatization of Canada.

She says Canada can use its national bank to get some of that power back. "It's very easy for the financial elites to dismiss people, and say, 'You don't understand, it's not that simple,' but it is that simple," she says. The timing of the election isn't ideal for the party since they are in the process of finding a new leader, but Fogel has agreed to stay on until November.

The party website is here.


Christian Heritage Party (CHP)

The party describes itself as "the only pro-life, pro-family federal political party." The party says civil governments must not go against Biblical teachings. Of course, the CHP opposes abortion. Party leader Ron Gray says, "The right to life is a right without which no other right has any meaning."

chp2008

Christian Heritage Party.

They support financial incentives for stay-at-home parents, and have proposed eliminating income tax in favour of a national sales tax. "Your paycheque is your property," says Gray, "And Jim Flaherty has no right to say, 'Please tell me how much you made this year, and please send me half.'" The party is planning to run more than 60 candidates in this election.

The party website is here.


Communist Party of Canada (CP)

The party's platform is based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The party says it will be running candidates in six provinces. The leader of the Communist party is Miguel Figueroa.

cp

Communist Party of Canada.

The CPC (same initials as the Conservative Party of Canada) is focusing on foreign policy, energy policy and job creation. Party spokesperson Elizabeth Rowley says the CPC supports nationalizing all energy oil and gas resources. She says, once that happens, the oilsands projects will stop: "We want to be able to be in a position to be able to cancel the Athabasca tar sands development." She describes the project as "one of the greatest producers of greenhouse gases in the country."

The party website is here.


First Peoples National Party of Canada (FPNP)

This party, which is led by interim leader Barbara Wardlaw, registered just before the 2006 election. Its goal is to bring native issues to the forefront. It is looking for long-term solutions to economic and social problems facing native people. Candidates for the party say the rights of native people have been ignored in Canadian politics.

fpnp

First Peoples National Party of Canada.

The party supports universal daycare, and a universal program for income support. The FPNP advocates a restorative approach to justice. The party emphasizes the importance of respect, social equality, and education. The party's website says, "The elected representatives of this country must develop, apply laws and regulations that will encourage and promote respect of the Seven Traditional Teachings for the well-being of all people. These include Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, Wisdom and Truth."

The party website is here.


Libertarian Party of Canada (LPC)

Party leader Dennis Young says the party exists to defend two main freedoms: economic freedom, and personal freedom. The party literature says property rights are essential, and that the only functions of government are recognizing and protecting an individual's right to life, liberty and property.

lpc

Libertarian Party of Canada.

The Libertarians would like Canadians to rethink how they are governed. Young says it's not about making big government smaller, but about starting from  "the ground up." "What if we had no government?" he asks. "What do we need?" Young says the country could then build the government required, rather than try to fix what is already there. "We're not speaking a foreign language here to Canadians," he says. "This is what the country was built on: personal and economic freedoms. It's what made us great." Young says the party would like to earn five per cent of the votes in the ridings they run in. "We're trying to just step on to the map, and be noticed," he adds.

The party website is here.


Marijuana Party (MP)

This party is devoted to ending the prohibition on marijuana use and possession in Canada. The party platform states that after ending prohibition in Canada, it would focus on pressuring the international community to also end prohibition against the drug. However, party leader Blair Longley is not optimistic. He says most of the party's supporters have left to join the larger parties.

mp

Marijuana Party.

"That leaves us as a fringe of a fringe — a fringe cubed," he says. "Where a vote for us is worth nothing. There's really no reason to vote for us, we exist as a lobby group to force the issue a little higher on the agenda than it otherwise would be." Longley says he is discouraged by campaign finance laws that give the big parties money for every vote they earn. But parties must earn at least two per cent of the vote to qualify, leaving small parties with nothing. He says the system is completely unfair.

"It's not a level playing field," he says, "it is a vertical cliff, and we're down at the bottom." Longley is one of a handful of candidates running for the party. He says there is very little money to campaign with, but they must have candidates to stay registered as a federal political party.

The party website is here.


Marxist-Lenninist Party of Canada (MLP)

This is a socialist party that refers to itself as the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), although it is registered only as Marxist-Leninist, to avoid confusion with the Communist Party of Canada.

mlp

Marxist-Lenninist Party of Canada.

Their website describes the party's long term goal as "creating a socialist society as the transition to communism, which will usher in a classless society." The party is calling for an immediate increase in social spending, and for all banks to be nationalized.

The party's new leader is Anna Di Carlo, who says Canadians "have to refuse to just be a vote bank" for political parties. The views of most Canadians, Di Carlo says, are ignored by the major parties until election time.

The current political system is "disempowering" for Canadians, she says, and "they can't exercise any control over what's happening in the country, and so what we stand for is empowering the people." Di Carlo argues that if people have the information, and the engagement in the issues, then problems can be found collectively. The MLP is running more than 50 candidates in this election.

The party website is here.


Neorhino Party (RHI)

The party was formed with some of the remnants of the original Canadian Rhinocerous Party, known for its outlandish and humourous take on politics — although this group has added "neo" as an homage to Matrix character Neo. Leader Francois Gourd is nominally the leader of the party, although he stresses the party is not about one person.

rhi

Neorhino Party.

"We are all leaders," he says. He also says Neorhinoists are only going after the vote of those who don't normally vote. "We don't run against the other parties," he says. "We tell people if you have voted for another party, keep on voting for them, but vote. We are addressing ourselves to the 40 per cent of the population who don't vote anymore."

Although the party does have positions on certain issues — abolish the military, outlaw tax havens, and spend more on health care and education — Gourd says the idea is to give a voice to the voiceless. But have fun while doing it. Gourd describes the party as "Marxist-Lennonist — All the way from Groucho Marx to John Lennon." They plan to run more than a dozen candidates, mostly in Quebec.

The party website is here.


Newfoundland and Labrador First Party  (NP)

The party received its official registration on Sept. 13, 2008. Party leader Thomas Hickey says the goal of the party is not seperatism. "Newfoundland and Labrador have a great number of problems with the federal government in relation to resource development, in relation to protection of our fishery, which has been all but destroyed," says Hickey.

np

Newfoundland and Labrador First Party.

He says that after 60 years of being within Canada, it's time for a debate on what that has done for the province. Hickey says if party candidates get to the House of Commons, they won't be demanding to leave Canada, or even necessarily voting as a block. He says no party leader will tell them how to vote. The party website lists a number of priorities, mainly to do with the fishery (it should be under provincial control) and control over resources, including power generation and non-renewables. Hickey, a 20-year member of provincial parliament, won't be running. But the party plans to run at least two candidates.

The party website is here.


People's Political Power Party of Canada (PPPP)

The leader and founder of the PPPP Party is Roger Poisson. The party has 13 main platforms, including honouring women, eliminating poverty, emptying prisons, and alternative energies. A letter from the leader on the party website says there will be no need for taxes in Canada. The party platform advocates hope as a way to health, thus reducing health-care costs.

ppp

People's Political Power Party of Canada.

The party supports a family day once a week, when all but emergency services would be closed. The PPPP calls for adequate housing for all, saying it would be a criminal offence for social agencies to allow people to be homeless. The health and prosperity of First Nations are also important issues for the party.

The party website is here.


Progressive Canadian Party (PCP)

The party was formed by Progressive Conservatives who opposed the merger with the Alliance party in 2003. The party describes itself as centrist, socially progressive and fiscally conservative. The leader of the party is Sinclair Stevens, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister in the Brian Mulroney government.

pcp

Progressive Canadian Party.

He says for this election, the party has three main priorities: reassessing Canada's role in Afghanistan, exposing what he describes as the untrustworthiness of Stephen Harper, and ensuring Canada remains a united country. Stevens says the current government is encouraging regionalism, and draining federal coffers in order to give provinces more power. "We've never before had a prime minister who's not a Canada first person," says Stevens. "Harper isn't."

Stevens says Harper puts provincial rights ahead of federal rights. Stevens says his party will also demand a referendum on Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

The party website is here.


Work Less Party (WLP)

The party, headed by Conrad Schmidt, isn't advocating laziness — the goal is less consumption. It also believes that a shorter work week would mean employment for more people. Most of the party platform has to do with economic and social issues, with an emphasis on doing things at the community level, to ensure economic and food security.

wlp

Work Less Party.

Spokesperson Chris Shaw says the goal should be to reduce consumption. "The only way to get out of the crisis that a lot of economies are now facing is to get out of the rat race. We don't want to grow the GDP, we want to shrink the GDP."

The party will also be talking about Afghanistan during this campaign. The party position is that Canadian soldiers should not be there. The party is running one candidate in the 2008 federal election, great-grandmother and activist Betty Krawczyk, who is running in East Vancouver.

The party website is here.


Western Block Party

The Western Block Party is a western separatist party. The WBP is right-leaning, and similar in views to another organization, Western Canada Concept. Both groups were founded by Doug Christie.

WBP

Western Block Party.

The party calls for a referendum on independence in the four western provinces. The WBP supports smaller government, restricted immigration, and personal freedom.

Christie says "federal politics is only useful to enable a western Canadian identity to emerge through a western Canadian political party." Christie says the rest of the country is benefiting from the wealth of the western provinces, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan. But, he says Ontario and Quebec have most of the political power.

The party has one candidate registered for this election. Christie himself won't be able to run because of a previous work commitment.

The party website is here.