Free Society

Free Society
Free Society: Art work by Taymaz Valley

The liberals in Quebec have passed the Bill 78 to stop the student protests against tuition hikes. Students, who have been wearing red squares on their clothes to demonstrate their objection, are now under threat of fines and imprisonment if they participate or encourage protests deemed illegal by the state.

The bill effects all citizens, thus taking away one of the most fundamental rights of the people in a democratic society. The red square is no longer worn by students alone; people of all background and persuasions now show their solidarity by wearing red squares.

The band Arcade Fire backing Mick Jagger on this week’s Saturday Night Live in US, wore red squares in support of the Quebec students. As well, Xavier Dolan brought the red square with him to the Cannes film festival in France.  Artists from all over the world have spoken up against the violence and unprompted, unjustifiable use of force exercised by police in cities like Montreal.

Art work by Taymaz Valley
Art work by Taymaz Valley

Facebook and Twitter profiles are full of red squares, and I cannot help being reminded of Kazimir Malevich and his square series. The Russian painter who profoundly and fundamentally influenced the Abstract artists, and still influences many, set about to change history of painting using an avant-garde approach and eliminating the bourgeois take on art. His Black Square began the idea that art should be felt emotionally, and seeing figures or scenes were just too conformist.

The newly appointed Communist Party at first embraced such revolutionary ideas, because it was a fresh look at art, matching their notion of a new approach to life; however soon, with Stalin coming to power, they saw it as a threat and started banning the avant-garde, favouring instead a Socialist Realism version, where heroes of the revolution were depicted as god-like figures set to inspire the masses.

Kazimir Malevich spent a lifetime being suppressed, but it comforts me to know his Black Square outlasted Stalin’s reign. At Malevich’s funeral, the mourners wore black squares on their clothes in solidarity with freedom in art and now an allegory for freedom in society.

Malevich wrote in 1926: “When, in the year 1913, in my desperate attempt to free art from the ballast of objectivity, I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field. The critics and, along with them, the public sighed, ‘Everything which we loved was lost. We are in a desert…Before us is nothing but a black square on a white background!’”

“The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. The face of the new art. The square is a living, regal infant. The first step of pure creation in art.” This tiny black square revolutionised art, and perception of art, inspiring a whole generation of artists, writers, poets and musicians.

It came at a time of change in its birthplace, when people were rising against discrimination and suppression in Tsarist Russia. It had predicted and predated the Russian Revolution of 1917 by two years, however life soon caught up with art and we had one of the most significant uprising of people against inequality in the history of 20th century.

People of Russia were tired of being poor, not having the necessities required for living whilst a few fat cats on top of the food chain basked in the splendour of their riches, adorned by silk and diamonds. So, a revolution was born, and although it turned sour in the end, it managed to awaken a taste for equality in people. A revolution in Art manages the same.

You see, changes in Art start by the artist standing his ground, not scared anymore. The critic bellows a cry to put fear in the artist’s heart, yet he is not afraid anymore. The point of no return has passed. The critics charge forward pen at hand with derogatory words, yet this time the artists are charging toward them with firm steps.

The fear is gnawing at the hearts of the critics now and they have no other option but to use force, so maybe the artists become scared again. However this tactic is in vain. You see, we are social animals, and if anything, evolution has taught us that we managed to survive by being social, by protecting one another in our pack; and here it comes alive within us. Because when we see mighty, corrupt forces mistreating one of our fellow pack members, we become enraged as a society and we seek revenge.

With that first raised fist, a significance change has occurred. A quiet shift so important and vast, it goes undetected by the leaders and critics so engulfed in their self-satisfactory, rickety, smug state of oblivion. But, now it is too late, the leaders once again have lost touch, and people are again on the rise for freedom, and Art is right there with them.

After five long years and two election victories with minority governments, Stephen Harper won his first majority last May in surprising fashion. Despite having numerous unpopular social policies, Harper managed to win an additional 23 seats guaranteeing full control in the House of Commons.

The election brought down Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who even lost his own seat, and formally resigned the next day. In Quebec, BQ leader Gilles Duceppe lost his seat as well and resigned as support for the Bloc Quebecois completely vanished. The only shining light for progressives was the equally surprising rise of the now deceased Jack Layton and his New Democratic Party, who became the official opposition for the first time in their history.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party now stand virtually unopposed in the House. The NDP, Liberals and BQ all have interim leaders and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May has very little time to speak as her party has but one seat. In addition to the House of Commons, Tories also control the Senate, thanks to Harper loading the upper house  of  Parliament with Conservatives over the last five years of Tory minority rule.

The soon to be Supreme Court of Harper

In the next three years, there are three liberal judges on the Supreme Court of  Canada who are scheduled to retire, all of whom were appointed on the advice of ex-Prime Minister Chretien. This means during Harper’s current term (likely sooner than later) his Conservatives will also control the Supreme Court.

With total control over both houses of parliament, and soon the Supreme Court, few people can remember a more powerful Prime Minister in Canadian history than Stephen Harper. Unfortunately for liberals and progressives, he’s just getting started.

And getting started he is, the Harper government is setting out to modify Canada’s justice system with Bill C-10, tabled in the Commons last Tuesday. It combines nine separate crime bills that failed to pass during the minority government years. It aims to toughen punishment for everyone from drug dealers and users to sexual predators to what Justice Minister Rob Nicholson calls “out-of-control young people.”

This Bill will rewrite laws on the production and possession of drugs, on young offenders and on parole and house arrest, to name a few. In various ways, the Tories are increasing sentences, or introducing mandatory minimums, for offences such as possession of pot, a drug that was on the brink of decriminalization only ten years ago under Prime Minister Chretien.

This vast crime bill is expected to cost billions of dollars and is being introduced at a time when the murder rate in Canada is at its lowest point in forty years. It furthermore comes at the same time the Conservative government is paying a consulting firm almost $90,000 a day for advice on how to save money. Anyone else see the senselessness at play here?

Canadian Murder Rate from 1961-2007

As I mentioned earlier, the Harper Government is just getting started. While no one knows for sure what the future will bring, you can bet that in the next four years we’ll be seeing the liquidation and privatization of profitable crown corporations, the defunding of Canadian institutions such as the CBC, the lowering of taxes for corporations and the wealthy, the gutting of many social programs and every Harper speech ending with the words “God bless Canada”.

With the opposition parties in parliament either being built or rebuilt, it falls on us, the Canadian people, to keep the Harper Government in check, to question everything that comes out of his mouth and to turn all of our collective differing arguments into not just words, but action. Otherwise it’s going to be an awfully long four years.

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On Saturday, the House of Commons led by Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party passed back-to-work legislation in order to force urban postal workers to return to work. I’m not opposed to back-to-work laws in general; virtually all unionized public workers are susceptible to these types of laws when there is a prolonged failure to reach a bargaining agreement. However, I am a little bitter at the speed and manner with which it was imposed this time around.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers started rotating strikes a couple weeks ago culminating in a one day strike in Montreal and Toronto last week. Canadians in effect had to wait an extra day for their mail. The Canada Post Corporation then decided to lockout all 54,000 urban postal workers (effectively locking out the 21,000 rural workers who were not on strike and still getting paid) in hopes the government would force them back to work. Sure enough within 48 hours the Conservative government tabled legislation to do just that. Given the prospect of a back-to-work bill, Canada Post had no incentive to cut a deal with its workers. For this reason, back-to-work laws are passed only as a last resort.

“It’s an indication of what’s to come for other public service workers who are unionized,” said Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. “But it’s also a signal from the Conservatives to all employers in a union setting or otherwise that it’s an open bar. They can start going after the acquired rights of their workers.”

A poll of Canadians showed that 70% favoured the back-to-work law; many of these same people were not at all clear on the facts, thanks in large part to the mainstream media. Safety and pensions of new employees were the main sticking points, not wages. Letter carrier wages are in fact on par with those of private companies (UPS, FedEx, etc.). Canada Post can afford it; they have posted profits for the last 15 years even through the most recent recession. Most importantly, the main work stoppage was due to Canada post locking out its employees, not the letter carriers refusing to deliver the mail.

The recent attacks on unions in Canada, Wisconsin and elsewhere by conservative governments come as no surprise; for conservatives, unions are represented by their opposition and are a direct threat to their power. The “Winter of Discontent” in the United Kingdom set up the modern dissatisfaction with unions and led to the election of the most anti-union conservative on record, Margaret Thatcher.

The Baroness Thatcher

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in the U.K. in 1979 there were approximately twelve million unionized workers in the public and private sector. In only a few years of Thatcher’s reign that number was cut in half to six million, reducing the base of the opposition Labour Party and letting the Tories run away with the 1983 election. Economic Nobel laureate Milton Friedman once said that unions keep down the number of jobs, but as Thatcher worked to revamp the union laws unemployment doubled in the country from 1.5 million to 3 million, a figure that dogged Mrs. Thatcher the rest of her time in office.

Unions, public or private, seem to have all the normal traits of human beings. They can be weak, strong, passive or aggressive even sneaky and stupid, but that’s for the union organizations to decide not the government. It only takes one man (or woman) in power to erase decades of progress, the citizens of Wisconsin realized that quickly and revolted almost to the point where the government plan backfired.

We as a people have to open our eyes and pay close attention to our government’s intentions. What may seem to be a quick easy fix from the outside can sometimes hinder our democratic freedoms, and nothing is more important in a democracy than the right to organize.

Which side are you on – Dropkick Murphy’s

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Last Monday two people were shot and killed by Montreal police. One was intermittently homeless and severely psychologically disturbed. The other was going to work, killed by the ricochet of one of three or four bullets fired by an SPVM constable. News updates pertinent to this story have been spotty and unfortunately eclipsed by F-1 weekend, and the key spokesperson for the SQ has been tight-lipped about how the investigation is proceeding. This week it came out that the constables involved were not interviewed until several days after the fact.

The SQ had returned to the scene, indicating it was both unusual and not unusual simultaneously. Those involved, much like the deceased, were brought to CHUM St-Luc, where they were sequestered from the public. CCTV footage from UQAM (which has yet to be made public) is said to exonerate the constables, as the mentally unstable Mario Hamel supposedly charged them with a knife.

At the end of the day, the SPVM is once again embroiled in scandal, the people of Montreal have a little less faith in law enforcement, and whatever seems obvious and factual in this case is muddled by collusion and potential conflicts of interest. Once again, the SQ, previously well known for the aborted siege of Kanehsatake and their propensity to send ‘agents-provocateurs’ into the fray at various demonstrations, have been brought in to investigate the actions of their municipal colleagues. Such is life in Montreal, and the regularity of this scenario has doubtless numbed the populace to the continuing problem of police brutality and excessive force. I’d like to think this was our quaint provincial problem, another element of badassery for a city high on street-cred; “don’t fuck with Montrealers, cuz they’ve been schooled by the Montreal fuzz” that sort of thing but there’s something about this particular case which stands out and has started affecting the way I think.

The word ‘tragedy’ has been artlessly applied by the few people available to speak openly about the case, such as the seemingly mal-informed Sureté public-relations hack. I suppose it is somewhat tragic, though in PR parlance ‘tragedy’ implies ‘accident’, and there’s nothing accidental about pulling the trigger of a ‘quick-action’ service pistol whilst aiming it at a man’s torso. Moreover, it can hardly be accidental when three or four shots are fired.

I can’t believe that there’s anything accidental or necessary about this shooting, when there are so many potential alternatives to using deadly force. I don’t mean to play armchair police-officer, and I still believe that the majority of law-enforcement in this country are regular people who work hard at their jobs and take themselves and their work with utmost seriousness. That being said, it increasingly looks to me as though we may have a law-enforcement problem in this country, one which is beginning to mimic the well known problems south of forty-nine in terms of excessive force, though fortunately not yet in terms of frequency.

For one, a security guard at the St-Luc hospital, which has its fair share of mentally and psychologically impaired visitors, told a local reporter they handle violent psychopaths and delusional schizophrenics with muscle, numbers, latex gloves and ‘talk-down techniques’. Hamel was well known in his circles, and had made some progress dealing with his mental health issues. That being said, when police approached him that fateful day, he was ripping open garbage bags and tossing their contents into the street.

I can’t imagine how one could be a good cop and not know the curbside insane intimately, but apparently the constables involved in this fatal shooting saw him as a lethal threat and used, as they would describe it, appropriate force. Their seemingly indiscriminate shots also hitting a maintenance man, Patrick Limoges, on his way to start an early morning shift. As he fell, nearby construction workers rushed to his aid, only to be dissuaded by gun-toting constables who warned them away from assisting the stricken man. It’s either for reasons of crime-scene control or because those involved weren’t sure which one was the threat. Either way I’m unimpressed.

We don’t need to dig up the growing list of innocent citizens killed by the SPVM for one reason or another over the years it’s long and there’s a fairly accurate list online somewhere. Nor do we need to contextualize this incident within the scope of post-9/11 public security planning, or even our country’s own sordid history of police brutality and misconduct you can do your own research, and I know it will be worth your time. That said, what we ought to be focused on are some of the more basic elements of law-enforcement in this city, this province and country. For starters, are guns necessary in the first place? Could Mario Hamel have been stopped with a taser, a baton or pepper spray? If so, why were these weapons not employed instead? A few days after Hamel and Limoges were killed, SPVM constables responded to a distressed woman in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve similarly armed with a large knife; they tased her and that was that.

Second, would regular neighbourhood foot patrols have helped police identify Hamel as fundamentally innocent, given his psychological problems? Would Hamel have felt as threatened if he recognized the intervening constables?

I don’t want to fault the people who did the shooting as much as the system which put a gun in their hand in the first place. I want to blame the system that has flooded our city streets with poor unfortunates who require counselling and medication, but instead will die as anonymous corpses frozen to sidewalks. I want to know what changed our perspective; at what point did a cop go from being a civil-service employee, like a teacher, social-worker or mail-carrier, to someone who exists above and beyond the realm of normalcy an individual who enforces laws, ostensibly for the public’s benefit, and yet doesn’t have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. Where’s my Police Brotherhood when I fuck up at work? Why can’t I take people’s cameras without reason? Why can’t I push people off the street with impunity? Why am I paying the salary, however indirectly, of the people who may one day kill or abuse me, perhaps tragically?

But the most disturbing fact, after all that has been written about recent incidents of police brutality and misconduct, here in the 514 or elsewhere in Canada, is that the public is as paralyzed collectively as they are individually. We’ve become numb. Tolerant of yet another excess. But unlike apathy or deep-fried food, the excesses of law-enforcement, culminating in abuse and brutality as we’ve witnessed over the course of the last decade, will undoubtedly compromise our individual sovereignty.

People must act now before it’s too late, and though this nightmare scenario has ‘been done’ insofar as we’ve seen it manifest itself across the silver screen, it doesn’t mean we aren’t already in the process of losing our collective assurance to individual freedom. And freedom from needless death is pretty crucial it’s one of the ‘pillars of difference’ that distinguishes our society from the dictatorships we precision-bomb.

And yet, here we are; on my short walk back from work the other day I passed five banks and a synagogue. Each had a security guard out front.

Jack Layton and a record 102 other NDP MPs

Today Jack Layton announced the composition of the shadow cabinet that will take on the Conservatives when Parliament resumes on June 2. For those who don’t obsessively follow politics, a shadow cabinet is the group of MPs who will serve as critics to the government’s ministers. A critic is tasked with holding their government counterpart to account, and is the main voice of opposition on issues relating to the ministry for which they are responsible.

For the first time in their history the NDP are the Official Opposition, and the government in waiting for the next four years. As such, a strong front bench that will be able to stand up to the Conservative agenda is critical.

Looking down the list I am impressed by the calibre of the NDP MPs, but also by the artful juggling act undertaken by Layton to produce a well-balanced shadow cabinet where no one looks out of place.

In particular, the representation of women and Quebec is great to see.


The NDP shadow cabinet is 40% female, which reflects the record percentage of female candidates the party fielded in the last election. The NDP ran strong female candidates, and is now putting them in positions of power.

This compares to a Conservative cabinet which boasts only eight female ministers (22%) and is once again overrun with old white men.

The NDP was able to draw on the strength of returning heavyweights like Libby Davies (Health) Olivia Chow (Transport) Megan Leslie (Environment) and Peggy Nash, who returns to Parliament after losing her seat in 2008 to take on the all important Finance critic position. Other returnees include Linda Duncan (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development), Irene Mathyssen (Minister of State for Seniors) and Jean Crowder.

While the NDP will rely on the experience and skill of these veterans, there’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to the rookies.

Nycole Turmel

Nycole Turmel, the former national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, becomes Caucus Chair and critic for Public Works. Although she had left by the time I started working for PSAC, my colleagues are universally enamoured with her drive, determination and principles, and I’m thrilled to see her in such an important position.

Hélène Laverdière, a former Canadian diplomat who resigned her position over philosophical differences with the Harper government, will be the critic for International Cooperation. Her energy and intelligence (she holds a PhD and used to teach university) will be needed as she tries to explain the meaning of the word “cooperation” to the Conservatives.

New NDP MP Francoise Boivin

Francoise Boivin, a lawyer and former Liberal MP, will go head to head with Rona Ambrose in the Status of Women portfolio. She is an extremely intelligent and articulate advocate and I’m looking forward to seeing her contrast herself with the less than impressive Ms. Ambrose.

Meanwhile Marie-Claude Morin (Housing), Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Post-Secondary Education), Manon Perreault (Disabilities) and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Skills) will each take on different parts of the Human Resources and Skills Development portfolio, with returning MP Jean Crowder as the principal critic. Claude Patry (Employment Insurance) will round out the field. I love that it’s been broken up, as each of these sub domains are near and dear to the NDP’s heart. With a dedicated critic for each, these issues will get their due.

The other rookies are Christine Moore, who will go head to head with everyone’s favourite Con, Julian Fantino, as critic for Military Procurement. Look to see this up and comer from Northern Quebec hold Fantino’s feet to the fire on jets without engines and other boondoggles.

Hélène Leblanc will be up against Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State for Science and Technology. Given that he believes the earth is six thousand years old, and she is an educator and agronomist with degrees in education and agriculture and the environment, I like her odds.

Finally Paulina Ayala will be the critic for the Minister of State for the Americas and Consular Affairs, Diane Ablonczy. She was born in Chile and was a leader in the student movement and in citizens rights organizations fighting the Pinochet dictatorship.


40% of the shadow cabinet is from Quebec, which is not surprising given that the 59 seats the NDP won here are more than they have in the rest of the country combined. All of the rookie women I mentioned above, with the exception of Rathika Sitsabaiesan, are from Quebec. They will be joined by a number of talented men from here.

Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair at a Habs game

Tom Mulcair is rewarded for his role in delivering Quebec to the NDP with the role of House Leader, aka second in command. His tenacious determination and incorrigible optimism got the NDP this far in Quebec, and much will be expected of him as the elder statesman in a provincial caucus otherwise consisting of rookies.

Alexandre Boulerice is a union man (as are many of the new NDP members) who was most recently with CUPE. He has run and lost several times before breaking through, and although he’s a rookie MP he will bring a lot to the table in terms of experience with the party. He’ll have the weighty assignment of Treasury Board, where his intelligence and rock solid progressive principles will be called upon to go toe to toe with Tony Clement.

Tyrone Benskin

Tyrone Benskin is the former National VP of ACTRA (the union for actors) and Artistic Director of Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop. His wealth of knowledge and practical experience at ACTRA make him a natural fit for the Heritage portfolio. This is
an area where the NDP matches up particularly favourably with the Cons, who haven’t recovered from blasting artists for being lazy bums who spend all their time at lavish taxpayer funded galas, and Benskin will be counted upon to be a strong defender of everything from the CBC to freedom of expression for musicians as the Cons go on the offensive against Canadian culture.

Pierre Nantel, formerly the artistic director at the Cirque du Soleil will take on Sport, while his South Shore colleague Hoang Mai (another veteran of multiple campaigns) will be responsible for the important National Revenue post. Both are dynamic, well qualified MPs and I’m thrilled to see them in the shadow cabinet.

Romeo Saganash and Jack Layton

Romeo Saganash is a hugely respected Cree leader and a star candidate who had a good chance of winning in northern Quebec even before the surge. A former representative to the U.N., Saganash is no stranger to politics and he will take on Natural Resources, where his talents will stand him in good stead.

Raymond Côté rounds out the Quebec contingent, and he will take on Small Business and Tourism. His counterpart on the government benches will be the disgraced but inexplicably back in cabinet Maxime Bernier.

Bottom line?

The NDP shadow cabinet is good. Scary good. These people’s intelligence, talent and dedication are going to impress the hell out of Canadians over the next four years, especially in comparison to the Cons front bench.

Today Jack Layton took the first step along the long and winding road to replacing the Conservatives in four years. For my money, it was a damn good first step.


I skipped some big ones, like Joe Comartin in Justice, because they weren’t women or from Quebec. Here’s the full list: NDP Shadow Cabinet



A few nights ago, a tall woman wearing tight black pants and an incredibly accentuating tank top began dancing on a table at a popular Montreal bar, while a few tables away I was having a particularly heated political debate with some friends. During her theatrical debut, we found ourselves wondering who this woman was going to vote for in the upcoming election, or if she would even roll out of bed on May 2nd at all. After making our predictions, I walked up to her and asked. She laughed it off and after some nervous hesitation finally admitted that she didn’t really know who was running, but would probably “just vote Liberal.”

I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most people would be very hard pressed to find a Canadian citizen who has not heard about both the Liberal and Conservative parties – the tired default options of far too many politically uninspired Canadians. Most people who haven’t been leaving their homes blind-folded these past few weeks probably even know about the Bloc, the Green Party and the NDP.

What so many Canadians don’t know is that they have even more choices than that!  Did you know that Canada actually has 18 registered political parties and several candidates running as independents this election? We as citizens hold the power to potentially make this country’s political system proportionately representative of all of our values.

I will address strategic voting in depth in my next article, but before I continue, I would just like you to keep one thing in mind before you consider a vote for the underdog a waste. Per-vote subsidy, which is granted to any party who garners more than 2% of the popular vote or more than 5% in a given riding. Both of which are a long shot for all of these parties, but if you happen to believe in one of them, and they happen to be running in your riding, I urge you not to forfeit your civic duty.

Due to a lack of funding, may of these parties are only running a few candidates and none of them may be on the ballot in your riding. But in the spirit of hammering away at the Americanisation of Canadian politics and in a vain effort to nurse our fragile multi-party system back to good health, to re-marginalize the marginalized, I would like to introduce to you the others.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

Introducing the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada. Founded in 2005, the AAEVPC “stands for just and equitable human progress that respects, protects, and enhances the environment upon which we all depend and the lives of the animals with whom we share our world.”

The AAEVPC “campaign[s] in elections in order to give environmental and animal protection issues the political relevance necessary to make governments proclaim sound and well-enforced environmental and animal protection policies, laws, and regulations.”

The AAEVPC is not running with the intention of becoming the next government of Canada. Rather, their goal is to lobby for better environmental and animal protection through governmental participation. Specific goals included in the party’s statement this year include ending Canada’s commercial seal hut, reforming factory farming, promoting a vegan lifestyle, improving wildlife polices and the development of ecologically sustainable agriculture.

In 2008, the party ran four candidates in the Toronto area and captured an average of 0.28% of the  vote in the ridings they ran in. This election they will be running 7 candidates primarily in the Toronto area.

The Communist Party of Canada: Marxist-Leninist

If you live in either Mount-Royal, Papineau, Laval, Bourassa, Hochelaga, Rosemount La Petite-Patrie, Notre-Dame de Grace – Lachine or LaSalle – Emard, the Communist Party of Canada-Marxist-Leninist is running in your riding! Founded in 1970, the Marxist-Leninist party is the largest of the so-called ‘fringe parties’ of Canada, with about 70 candidates running throughout the country this election.

According to their website, the purpose of the Marxist-Leninist party is to form a “new, modern, truly democratic society in which people are sovereign is the urgent requirement for Canadians to free themselves of the legacy of the country’s 19th century colonial foundation.  The creation of such a society is the immediate aim of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), consistent with its long-term aim of creating a socialist society as the transition to communism.”

If elected, the CPC-ML promises to drastically increasing funding for social programs, healthcare and education, along with the nationalization of all banks. They will introduce a new and revised constitution that will include a non-discrimination clause addressing language, race, religion, origin, age, lifestyle, gender, ability and wealth. The CPC-ML supports Quebec’s right to self-determination and any Aboriginal peoples who were treated unjustly or harmed in the past would be granted indemnity payments.

The party also plans on pushing for the democratization of the United Nations so that all member countries will have equal weight in the decision making process. It will oppose the blockades against Cuba and North Korea. The Marxist-Leninist Party will form a so-called “anti-war government,” this includes reviving the principle of noninterference, ensuring a peaceful coexistence between nations and an immediate withdrawal from NORAD and NATO. The Marxist-Leninist Party will bring home all Canadian troops around the world upon election.

In 2008, the party captured 0.06% of the popular vote, down from 0.17% in 1974. The current leader of the party is Anna Di Carlo.

Communist Party of Canada

The CPC-ML is not to be confused with Canada’s other Communist party, the Communist Party of Canada. The CPC has been around for 90 years and is Canada’s oldest communist party and the third oldest political party in Canada. Like the Communist Party of Canada – Marxist-Lenninist, CPC’s ambition is socialism to lay the groundwork for an eventual communist Canada. The party argues that only socialism can lead to a true democracy in which a Canada exists that puts the interests of the majority first. Their platform includes the creation of a nation-wide strategy for full employment, a tax reform that targets the very top, the nationalization of energy, natural resources and banks. They will also implement a foreign policy based on peace and disarmament.

Some of their most vocal and immediate demands this election include the prompt withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, an end to the war in Libya, the breaking of all diplomatic ties with Israel, free education for all, a public childcare system and putting people before profits. I urge you to check out their comprehensive party platform and a very interesting history of communism and capitalism in Canada.

The Communist Party is fielding 20 candidates across the country. In Montreal, the CPC is running in Westmount-Vile-Marie, Hochelaga, Laurier-Ste-Marie and Outremont. In 2008, the Communist Party captured 0.03% of the popular vote.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Next on the list is the Christian Heritage Party of Canada (yes, we have one too). No surprise here, the CHP is a socially and fiscally conservative party. It was born in 1986 in Hamilton Ontario, primarily out of the belief that Canada was failing to protect the rights of the unborn child.

Here is a taste of their platform: The CHP plans to introduce a family allowance that would grant families with young children a payment of $1,000 a month if one parent remains at home with the children. This policy is derived of the belief that daycare centers cause harm to children. The CHP will “appoint a Royal Commission, and give it the authority to do a thorough examination of [same-sex marriage] and suspend the legislation that allowed same-sex ‘marriages’ until the enquiry is complete.”

The CHP also intends to refurbish the justice system so that instead of remaining behind bars, non-violent offenders will be required to pay restitution to their victims. It also intends to invest in rehabilitation programs for prisoners who pose a threat to public safety, however, the CHP also claims that it will restore capital punishment. They will charge young offenders who commit so-called ‘adult crimes’ as adults, and they will also revoke voting rights from prisoners. The CHP is in favor of scraping the long gun registry and argue that all citizens of Canada have the right to bare arms.

The CHP claims that “more and more Canadians are beginning to realize that the ‘supremacy of God’ clause in [the Canadian] Constitution is the most important bulwark protecting our democracy and the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience for all Canadians—and only the CHP is committed to the protection of that principle.” The party also believes that Canadian civil law should be based on biblical law and that “decision-making processes by civil government must not in any way contravene…Biblical ethics.”

With regards to immigration, the CHP would require all immigrants to adopt Canada’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage,’ and would further specifically require the abandonment of any Islamic culture. This includes the donning of the burqa and the similar head dressings in public. Any violation of these laws will result in immediate deportation. In fact, CHP promises to “implement a moratorium on immigration from any Muslim nation.” With regards to refugees, the CHP will require new non-christian refugees to participate in faith based training programs.

CHP’s economic platform includes the introduction of its “Fair Tax” program. This program would replace federal income tax with a national retail sales tax.  They will treat Canada’s national debt like a “mortgage,” they speculate that through monthly payments of principle and interest, Canada will be out of debt within 35 years. If elected, the CHP promises to invest heavily in research and development of low cost clean water technology and infrastructure.

The CHP’s healthcare platform includes increased privatization of Canada’s health care system, the elimination of funding for abortion, building better hospitals and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

On their website, the party argues that “”greenhouse gases” are  not  pollutants. [They] are essential to agriculture—and indeed, to all life on earth. Furthermore the global temperature does  not  follow CO2 levels (as IPCC computer models assume), it  leads  it. That is, higher global temperatures cause rising CO2 levels, not the other way around.” They urge voters not to vote for any party that perpetuates the ‘myth’ of global warming.

CHP is running 31 candidates this election, with three candidates running in Quebec. In 2008 they captured 0.19% of the popular vote.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

Rhinoceros Party

Next I would like to welcome Canada’s infamous Rhinoceros Party, also know as NeoRhino. Just a heads up, if you live in Montreal, you can only vote for this party if you reside in the  LaSalle-Emard riding. They also have candidates running in Trois-Rivieres and  Chicoutimi-Le Fjord.

The Rhinoceros Party is the successor to the original Rhino party, known as the Rhinoceros Party of Canada. It was established in 1963, by Jacques Ferron  as Canada’s first national joke party.  The name for the party was derived from the similarities Ferron found between between Canadian politicians and the animal.

“[They’re] thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted [creatures who] can move fast as hell when in danger and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces,” he once explained.

When asked one day what his party would do if elected, Ferron replied, “same as yours, nothing.” Although often criticized for their…silliness, the Rhinos argue that their party is as valid as any other because they are the voice of the people who no longer believe in the system.

Although they are a group of self-professed “imbeciles, licensed cretins [and]… cupboard anarchists,” the Rhinos have a serious message for the Canadian government that they send by capturing the fed-up vote. What a message it would send if instead of staying home on election day, just a tiny portion of those 40% of non-voters voted Rhino… In their prime, in 1980, the Rhinos captured 1.01% of the popular vote, in 2008 they got 0.02%.

Some promises the party has made over the years include repealing the law of gravity, creating the world’s biggest parking lot by paving over Manitoba, building taller schools to increase and promote higher education, damming the St. Lawrence river to convert Montreal’s streets into a series of Venice-like canals, converting Saint Catherine Street into the longest bowling alley ever, putting the Canadian Senate up for sale at an antiques auction, transferring Canada’s national debt onto a Visa card and renaming the country Nantucket.

They have also promised to build the worlds longest bridge, an ambitious project that would connect Vancouver Island with Newfoundland. They propose to reconstruct the Trans-Canada into a one-way highway and will initiate a counting of the 1000 islands as the result of suspicion that the United States have stolen some.  Oh, but don’t worry, I forgot to mention their campaign slogan: “We promise to keep none of our promises!”

The Pirate Party of Canada

Nope, the Pirate Party of Canada isn’t another joke party advocating that we all search for treasure while wearing striped t-shirts and eye patches. Founded in 2009, this nascent party stands  for information reform. The party is out to tackle inadequate copyright laws and push for the expansion and reform of online privacy laws. They also want to shorten patent terms and eliminate patents for  software, pharmaceuticals, business models, genes and life forms.

The party is also campaigning to increase government transparency via the internet.  The PPCA is running 13 candidates in Canada and one in Quebec, in the riding of  Laval—Les ÃŽles.

The Libertarian Party of Canada

The Libertarian Party of Canada began its journey as a political party in 1973 but only became an officially recognized political party in 1979. In 2008, they captured 0.05% of the popular vote. This election they are running 8 candidates, none of which are in Quebec. Similar in many ways to the more, uh, visible Tea Party in the United States, the Libertarians primary cause is to promote and protect the rights and liberties of the individual. This sounds nice, right? According to the Libs this entails reducing the size of the government to an absolute minimum so that its reach would only extend as far as the administration of justice and national defense.

They describe the government as a “force” that uses social welfare to unjustly and forcefully rob from those who have worked hard for their wealth only to redistribute it to the needy. They argue that welfare is damaging and often leads to dependency while also proposing to  eliminate all minimum wage laws.

Furthermore, the Libs posit that the government should play no role in the economic sphere of Canada. If elected, they propose to do away with government subsidies and licensing restrictions. The Libs are opposed to any taxation that is not intended to fund the justice or defense systems.

Furthermore, they argue that some of the remaining crumbs of government services should be funded by convicted criminals who would be expected to fund a large chunk of the justice system. Other ways they plan on lower taxes include abolishing social services and filling the military with volunteers.

By now, it should come as no surprise to you that the Libs are proponents of a privately funded healthcare system, they also oppose all public funding for education and compulsory education laws. They will repeal all non-violent criminal legislation and would thus legalize all drugs or any other substance and will grant amnesty to those punished for said crimes. This brings us nicely over to the next party I would like to introduce to you, you guessed it, the Marijuana Party.

The Marijuana Party of Canada

After Marc-Boris St-Maurice was found guilty of possession of marijuana in 1991, he became a Marijuana activist which eventually led to the Marijuana Party of Canada‘s formation in 2005. The Marijuana Party’s  only official party platform is the decriminalization of marijuana and the subsequent amnesty to those being punished for marijuana-related crimes.

The  party is a lobbyist party and does not exist for the purpose of becoming the next government of Canada. In fact, the party  even endorses strategic voting against the Conservative Party. They posit that members are under no obligation to vote Marijuana and many Marijuana candidates have openly supported the NDP, Green and Liberal parties.

In 2008, the party received 0.02% of the popular vote. The party does not have any candidates running in Quebec.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party

The Canadian Action Party

Nova Scotia-based former Liberal defense minister  Paul Hellyer created the Canadian Action Party in 1997 after considerable frustration with what he felt was a sort of colonization of Canada by the United States. He resigned in 2003  after his party was rejected for a merger with the NDP. The party’s current leader is Christopher Porter.  CAP is a left-leaning political party that advocates a fairer and more democratic Canada. CAP has five main pillars supporting its platform: monetary control, civil and human rights, sovereignty, parliamentary reform and the environment. Its proposed monetary reform include, re-empowering the Bank of Canada by increasing its role in servicing public debt, the re-institution of statutory reserves and a restructuring of the Canadian tax system. CAP proposes to replace the current Free Trade market and NAFTA with a fairer economic system. CAP proposes to replace the current Senate with a “Jury Senate” and urges an increase in the use of direct democracy in Canada.

The party is calling for a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, decreased military and increased peacekeeping budgets. CAP seeks to  “end the culture of war mentality that is driving the greed and lust for power, control and dominance of people all over the world. CAP seeks to promote policies, which support peace and freedom for all.” CAP is running one candidate in Quebec in the  Mégantic-l’Érable area and 12 in total.  In 2008 the CAP  received 0.03% of the popular vote.

The Western Block Party of Canada

The Western Block is, yep you guessed it, a Western separatist party – the Bloc is fighting for Western Canada to become an independent state. The Block asserts that Western Canada has been marginalized over the past many years because Canada is controlled by Ontario and Quebec. Its founder, Doug Christie, became a separatist in 1975 and by 2005 became so fed up with Canada’s neglect for the West that he formed his own political party in an attempt to get out of Canada. Defending his position, Christie in a interview in 2005 said, “What’s good about Canada? Tell me one thing that Western Canada gets from Ontario and Quebec that they could not get better, quicker and cheaper somewhere else, including good government. We can govern ourselves, we’re not idiots. We’re capable of making better political decisions for ourselves than Ottawa’s 106 seats and Quebec’s 75 will ever do for us. We can govern ourselves much more effectively.” The full interview is available here. In 2008, the party received 0.00% of the popular vote. This election they will be running several candidates in…Western Canada.

The United Party of Canada

Founded in 2009, United Party of Canada is a party with one overarching vision: to unite the Canadian people, to amalgamate French, English, Aboriginal and Immigrant Canadians. But the party is not just some big love fest, they have a progressive and comprehensive platform. Once elected, UPC promises to cut taxes for families while cutting business rates for nascent businesses. They will create a $750 million a year program designed to train new workers with a focus of jobs in the sustainable energy sector. They demand capping credit card interest rates at 5% and propose to put an end once and for all to the Canadian penny. They will name a minister specifically committed to consumer affairs, and promise to go the extra mile in food safety. The party also proposes some interesting solutions to the current pension problem in Canada. They proses a mandatory system wherein both parties, the employer and employee will be required to contribute 5% of pay. They also propose to abandon the minimum income that dictates how much a person can obtain from the current Guaranteed Income Supplement program.

UPC proposes the creation of a ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income Level Program’ which would eventually replace federal income support programs. This program would guarantee that every Canadian receives a minimum of about  $1,564.40 per month.  They argue that this affordable program will not only eliminate virtually all of the poverty in Canada, but it will also increase health and safety for all Canadians. They posit that this program can easily be paid for by Canada’s Employment Insurance Program and would actually generate a surplus.

When it comes to the environment, UPC is pushing a fee for polluters of $10 a ton for greenhouse emissions, which will be set to rise every four years. This revenue, they argue, will end up back in the pockets of Canadians.

They will attempt to integrate dental care into our health care system and will create incentives for dentists to treat priority patients with actual priority. They are in favor of a ‘Pharmacare’ bill, that would decrease Canada’s drug expenditure by over $10 billion. With regards to abortion, UPC posits that Canadian woman have the right to choose, however tax breaks will be give to those who op for adoption over abortion.

They promise to scrap all post-secondary tuition so long as the student maintains a passing grade. This will be in addition to a guaranteed minimum income for post-secondary students. UPC promises to transform the prison system so that prisoners have a better quality of life, access to education and work. Some of the money made in prison by prisoners will be channeled to pay restitution to victims. They envision a future where new metal health facilities, rehab and drug treatment centers go up in place of new prisons. The party is also in favor of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana of less than one ounce.

The United Party of Canada is running Candidates in Ontario. In 2010, in a by-election in Vaughan, Ontario, UPC received 0.01% of the vote.

The Progressive Canadian Party

Founded in 2004, PC is a party committed to the progressive conservative agenda, they strive to keep what is good in our system while improving on what is needed. Their aim is to fill “the space on the political spectrum, where most Canadians are.” The party agrees with many Harper policies but would improve on, or change the following: they would initiate a universal post-secondary program that grants free post-secondary education for all; they seek to further increase trade with developing countries in order to stimulate their economic growth and global prosperity. As opposed to the conservatives, PC has a greener vision for Canada. They plan on greater investment in renewable energy. However, the major difference between Harper and PC is Afghanistan. PC proposes to form an alliance with Pakistan and India to bring about peace instead of continuing to attempt the so called “impossible.”

In 2008, the party earned 0.04% of the popular vote. This election PC is running 3 candidates, none of which are in Quebec.

The First Peoples National Party of Canada

The First People’s National Party envisions a government that truly puts all the people of Canada first. The party argues that Canada was founded on the shoulders of First Nations people and that the original Treatise between Canada’s colonizers and colonized based on mutual respect and cooperation was broken. The party calls for the government of Canada to honor those promises now. The party claims that “any country that continues to exclude its First Peoples from all levels of governance is a colonizing body. The snails pace of government in land-claim settlements and the light speed of resource development by foreign-owned companies are continued acts of colonization and cultural genocide.” The party is fighting first and foremost for inclusion, they advocate Senate reform and the formation of a First People’s House in addition to the House of Commons.  They propose the development of, and increased funding for sustainable communities and social programs and are dedicated to fighting poverty. The FPNP advocates respect of all cultural and spiritual beliefs.

William Morin, the party’s interim leader, argues that First Nations People generally do not vote because by doing so they would be forfeiting their sovereignty as First Nations people. Voting to many First Nations people is perceived as an act of encouraging further exploitation by legitimizing an abusive government. He also argues that First Nations leaders often find themselves in catch-22-like situations. Do they stand up to big business and an unjust government and risk losing the government funding they deserve and so desperately need for their people?

This election, the FPNP is running one candidate in Ontario, in 2008 they captured 0.01% of the popular vote.

Jump to a party: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party, Christian Heritage Party, Rhinoceros Party, Pirate Party, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Western Block Party, United Party, Progressive Party, First People’s National Party