You've heard of the 'big 6' political parties, but what about the 'fringe 15'
From animal rights, to Christian values and communist ideals, Canada's smaller parties fight for a voice
While many Canadians may be familiar with the main federal parties in Canada, many are not always aware of the smaller political parties in this election that sit outside the mainstream.
In all, there are 21 federal parties registered with Elections Canada. The leaders of six of those parties participated in the two televised debates put on by the Leader's Debates Commission. The remaining 15 have had to work a lot harder to get their message out.
One of those is the Communist Party of Canada, which is running candidates in 30 of Canada's 338 federal ridings.
"We're hoping to build our party and build the fight against corporate greed," said Drew Garvie, the candidate for the party in the Toronto riding of University Rosedale.
Their plan sounds simple, to "put people's needs before corporate greed," but the policy initiatives they want to implement to make their vision of Canada a reality would be far-reaching.
Some of those initiatives include cutting the military budget by 75 per cent, shifting the tax burden from working people to the wealthy and corporations and nationalizing banks, natural resources and other industries that would then be controlled by the state.
Louis Lang, a candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party in the Quebec riding of Pontiac, also wants corporations to contribute more to the public purse.
His party, which is running 50 candidates in this election, is backing an initiative to shift the way public services such as education and health care are funded in Canada.
Instead of collecting general taxes to pay for social services, Lang said, a calculation should be made to determine what economic benefit a healthy, educated adult brings to a company. The company should then be charged what it cost the state to educate and keep that person healthy.
Social conservative vision
The Christian Heritage Party, which is running 51 candidates, is focused less on the economy and more on social conservatism. Peter Vogel, the party's election chair said the party's platform has been built around three themes: life, family and freedom.
The life theme includes calls for reversing assisted dying legislation and the protection of the "pre born." The family theme calls for the promotion of the traditional family in Canada. Vogel says that means a marriage of one man and one woman because, he said, a "family is the most stable place for children to be raised with a mother and a father."
The party says it also wants to combat media bias by defunding the CBC, which it says is biased against Christian policies and a Christian worldview.
"We're trying to keep progressing in terms of getting our message out to more Canadians," said Vogel. "That's really a major difficulty for smaller parties; getting the message out in areas that we run."
Protecting animals, and more
The Animal Protection Party, which is running 17 candidates, has an obvious focus on treating animals better than they are currently treated. But as deputy leader Jordan Reichert told CBC News, the party's platform also addresses issues that range from foreign affairs and health, to education and the economy.
"Our platform is the only one that gives equal consideration to people, animals and the environment," Reichert says.
All candidates of the party are vegan and the party pledges to withdraw subsidies to animal-based industries and transition to plant-based industries. They also want to implement a meat tax that would be similar to the tax on tobacco, with the aim of discouraging people from eating meat.
Of course, not every party has a radical agenda. The satirical Rhinoceros Party of Canada, which is running 39 candidates, simply wants people to consider voting and paying attention to the decisions made in Ottawa, even if that means voting for them.
A vote for the sake of it
"As people, we have to stay aware of what is happening in Ottawa, which is very far away from most people," Sébastien "CoRhino" Corriveau, leader of the Rhinoceros party, told CBC.
"If you vote Green, that's good, then go vote Green. If you vote for the Liberals, that's good, go vote for the Liberals. But if you don't vote, if you think that all politicians are corrupt, then go vote Rhino," said Corriveau, who is hoping to unseat the Liberal minister for families, children and social development in the last Parliament, Jean-Yves Duclos, in the riding of Quebec.
The party's platform is a collection of jokes masquerading as policy initiatives that are worth a read. Some of the highlights include:
- Implementing a national program to bribe weather forecasters so they will only predict sunny skies.
- Building a "highway of pipelines" from one coast to the other that would include up to 30 individual pipelines. One would carry water from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and another would carry water from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- The party also wants to replace Canada's Arctic patrol vessels with a fleet of Theodore Tugboats, modelled on the one that lives in Halifax harbour. The idea, Corriveau says, is that should a dispute break out with Russia over who owns the Arctic, Canada could combat Russian missiles with Theodore smiles.
The remaining parties officially registered with Elections Canada include:
- Canada's Fourth Front - seven candidates. The party bills itself a "pro-Canada" alternative to the main federal parties.
- Canadian Nationalist Party - three candidates. A far-right party promoting the maintenance of European heritage and culture in Canada.
- Libertarian Party of Canada - 24 candidates. This party seeks to maximize personal freedom by limiting the role of government in people's lives.
- Marijuana Party - four candidates. The party wants deregulation to ensure that marijuana is as cheap and available to buy and sell as coffee.
- National Citizens Alliance of Canada - four candidates. This controversial far-right party wants to limit immigration and deport all illegal immigrants.
- Parti pour l'Indépendance du Québec - 13 candidates. This party seeks Quebec's independence from Canada.
- Progressive Canadian Party - three candidates. This party formed after the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada. Members opposed the merger.
- Stop Climate Change - two candidates. This party wants radical action to stop climate change.
- The United Party of Canada - four candidates. This left-of-centre party says it straddles both Liberal and Conservative ideology.
- Veterans Coalition Party of Canada - 25 candidates. This party describes itself as a coalition founded on truth, duty and honour.