Inside Politics

Pirate Party wants 'fair deal' for independent candidates

It appears that former Conservative turned Independent MP Brent Rathgeber's campaign to level the playing field for non-aligned candidates has won the support of at least one federal party.

Earlier today, the Pirate Party of Canada put out a press release reiterating Rathgeber's concerns over the institutional bias against independent candidates in both the current campaign rules and the changes proposed by the Conservatives:

The current system already stacks the odds against these types of candidates and the proposed changes significantly increase that difficulty. A hurdle that independent candidates already face is the requirement that all remaining funds at the end of the election must be surrendered to Elections Canada. This handicap is placed upon independent candidates alone and is not shared by candidates running under a party banner. As a result of this, while party candidates can retain these funds for the next election, independents are faced with having to rebuild their entire funding with each election.

Currently, elected MPs that take a public stand against their party, their leader, or thei r party's position on any number of issues are left with a choice to make: leave their party, risk being ejected by their leadership for standing their ground, or backing down on the issue. With the proposed changes, and the current rules, MPs will find if even more burdensome to leave their party, whether by their own choice or not, and thereby further strengthening party discipline.

They've even come up with a possible solution -- a sort of electoral escrow that would have Elections Canada hold in trust all unspent funds from an independent campaign until the next federal election.

"If the person runs again as an independent candidate, the money that is held in trust will be returned to them for use in their campaign," the release notes.

"If the person decides not to run at all or runs as a candidate under a party banner, the money held in trust will be forfeited to Elections Canada in whole."

Elections Canada would also keep any and all interest accrued between campaigns.

"The Pirate Party of Canada values the independent voices in Parliament, whether they're independent by choice or by circumstance," the release concludes.

"We urge Parliament to work towards giving them a fair deal." 

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