TORONTO — The five major political parties tend to get the spotlight in federal elections, but there are actually a total of 22 parties that will have candidates on ballots across Canada come election day.
Although the chances of these so-called “fringe parties” winning a seat in Parliament are slim, some of them are very serious about changing the course of the political dialogue in this country. Others, meanwhile, are simply in the race to give Canadians a laugh.
Jay Hill, leader of the Maverick Party, is looking to make inroads in Conservative-dominated central Alberta.
The party, which started as “Wexit Alberta,” a play on the U.K.’s “Brexit” movement, is fielding 29 candidates, most of whom are in Alberta, but scattered across Western Canada. The party’s platform includes an ultimatum to change equalization payments in favour of Alberta and to give the Prairies more autonomy in terms of taxation.
“If we cannot achieve constitutional reform to finally treat the West fairly and respectfully, then we will pursue independence,” Hill told CTV National News.
On the lighter side, there is the Rhinoceros Party. Its 28 candidates are trying to inject humour into the federal election campaign, vowing reforms such as making “sorry” the country’s official motto and abolishing the law of gravity.
The party’s platform calls just about every issue its “number one priority,” a light jab at mainstream politicians who try to appease as many people as possible.
“I joined the Rhinoceros Party to be part of the chaos, to stir the pot a little,” Vanessa Wang, candidate for Calgary Nose Hill, said.
There’s also the Marijuana Party with nine candidates. The party was originally formed to push for the legalization of pot, and even though that happened in 2018, party leader Blair T. Longley said the fight isn’t over yet.
“Our view is that it’s a bogus legalization,” he told CTV News. “It includes ridiculously restrictive regulations.”
Some bold promises have come from the Communist Party of Canada and its 26 candidates, including free post-secondary education, scrapping the RCMP and ending all oil sands production.
“They are big ideas,” party leader Liz Rowley said. “But these are the times that require big ideas.”
These parties may not win any of Parliament’s 338 seats, but they can make voters think, and even give them a laugh in an otherwise grueling campaign.