The Party had been at risk of deregistration for a while due to problems getting enough people
to send in proof that they were still party members (Which Elections Canada requires done
every three years). However, it was a failure to hand in financial forms for the 2016 fiscal year
that ultimately did them in. When I heard the party had been deregistered I was sad. The Pirate
Party was the first political party I became heavily involved with. I still consider some of the
people I worked with to be friends. This led to a bit of reflection on the party. On its successes
and failures. On its potential and limitations. On whether it should remain dead or rise again.
The Once And Future Pirate Party
fixed before the party is re-registered with Elections Canada. Now keep in mind I was last involved with the party in 2014
so some of the issues I'm about to mention may have been fixed but I doubt it.
Having All Hands On Deck
The Pirate Party was almost always short of volunteers. And the trickle we did get were managed poorly. This problem is
foundational. All of the party's other problems stem from it in one way or another. It was so bad that I would set a low
target of 30 committed volunteers as the target to reach before registering again and it would be the most volunteers
the party has ever had at one time and close to the most total volunteers it had during the entire span of its existence.
Efforts to run the party on less will lead to failure.
Related to the above point is the repeated failure of the party to
develop a strong 'grassroots'. Local meetings occurred in Ottawa,
Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver but never got beyond getting
together and talking. The picture to the right is of a meet-up I
organized in Calgary. While it might look like a promising start (And
I learned a lot about how copyright laws negatively effect people who
are blind and deaf from one of the attendees) future meetings had a
grand total of zero people show up. Edmonton meetings were
infrequent and Ottawa's meetings stopped when the local organizer
had to step away for personal reasons. Canada is a big place and it
makes local organizing both difficult and extremely important. The party needs to figure out how to organize effectively
at the local level. Because if you are bringing people in at the local level it increases the volunteers you have at the
federal level. The internet is cool like that. Its also kind of helpful for raising money.
Pick A Ship And Stick With It
The logo of the Pirate Party has been changed at least once. The party has had at least three website designs. The
membership list was moved from one database to another. Debates regarding the name kept re-occurring as did more
fundamental questions about the party's nature (advocacy vs. electoral). Oh, and the constitution had a complete re-
write. Pretty much all of the things I just listed ran into difficulties. Some merely resulted in inconsistencies (the logo at
the top of this article is not the party's final logo) but many severely hampered the party (the first website change took
the website off-line for an extended period and destroyed the forum community). The debate often came down to
keeping something familiar that had limitations or moving to a platform that was in theory more powerful/cheaper. Too
often the latter option won out and the party's infrastructure was convulsed by some unanticipated problem. Or it took longer to make the change over than originally anticipated causing other headaches. The result is the party was often
focused inward rather than looking for new opportunities. All of this comes down to either not having enough people
for the job or one person's voice carrying too much weight. Both problems would be fixed by having more volunteers.
Arriving At Treasure A Day Late
The party had/has an impressive media contact list. And often when a story broke that we wanted to comment on we
would get a response out within a day or two. I've italicized what was a constant problem for the party. Often it was a
simple case of wanting to make sure the press release was of good quality. Sometimes it was a case of everyone being
busy. Keep in mind when I say everyone I essentially mean no more than five people. And these five people had other
party business to deal with plus whatever else was going on in their lives. Still, our press releases were perhaps the most
successful part of the party's work in terms of drawing attention to issues. A dedicated press release team of three would
make everyone's life a lot easier.
The Captain's Desiccated Corpse
The result of not having enough crew was often burnout. It happened repeatedly to many of our volunteers. It was very
hard on the party leaders. If you look at the term lengths for many of the Pirate Party's leaders you will find they served
a single year (or less). Part of this is due to the leader's term length (which I will get to in a minute) but the amount of
pressure on the leader is a contributing factor. Having served as leader I can tell you there is an odd pressure that I put
on myself. You feel like you have to carry the party. I'm sure leaders in all fields have a similar feeling. The problem with
the party is too often its true. Larger parties have so much delegated that they can focus on setting the party's general
direction. The Pirate Party (as I have made clear by now) has very little that can be delegated as it has few to delegate to.
The result is too much on any one person's plate and burnout. Which results in fewer crew and more burnout.
Captain For A Day
The good thing for the person who becomes party leader is it is a one year commitment. This also happens to be a bad
thing for the party in the long run. A party leader would often come in with a vision, start working on it, burnout, and be
replaced by a leader with a different vision. While this ensures there will always be fresh meat to keep the party alive it
isn't conducive to long term planning. If the party fixes its volunteer problem they should also look at longer terms for
The New Ship
(1) Have 30+ volunteers recruited and willing to do the heavy lifting of running a federal party.
-If you could get every person who has seriously helped out in the past to come back you would have a lot of talent and
experience to draw on. Just don't count on it happening.
(2) Make sure what the party's internet/constitutional infrastructure is reliable and stick with it.
(3) Extend the leader's term in office.
(4) Reduce the frequency of the General Meetings and replace it with an email plebiscite system.
-The General Meetings are both an inspiring example of direct democracy and tedious wastes of time.
-Judging by how often the General Meeting was without quorum I think it is safe to say the membership agrees.
(5) Change the party's name
-I love the party's name (I wouldn't reference it on my blog if I didn't) but it is not useful.
-If the party has to rely on a gimmick to get attention that says something poor about the party.
opportunity for the Pirate Party to gain a foothold. The barriers to entry are also lower at the provincial level. The federal
organization would continue to exist in the background as an unregistered entity until success at the provincial level
allows it to return. And if you pulled it off its return would look a lot less like a failure broken by the weight of its issues
and more like the triumphal entry of a party ready to win at the federal level.