These meetings are an important part of maintaining Canada’s election laws. Here concerns,observations, and new ideas can be shared freely with those charged with enforcing Canada’s election laws and the representatives of the parties who have to live by those rules and, at times, legislate them. It is in the interest of fairness and an acknowledgement that political fortunes can change quickly that has, for many years, led all registered political parties to receive invitations to attend these meetings.
However, an important group has been conspicuously absent. Independent candidates. Independent candidates are also affected by political finance laws but have no advocates here. They are a voice that is not heard. Perhaps this is why that while political parties have created many ways to raise and store vast campaign war chests independent candidates have only those methods first available to all candidates in 1867 to make use of. While it may be tempting to think of independent candidates as irrelevant this is largely because we, collectively, have made them so.
In the 2011 Federal Election I counted 61 independent candidates who got their names on the ballot. Some did quite well. In fact, after the Green Party of Canada independent candidates are arguably the most important political grouping. This, in the face of systematic disadvantages.
The Pirate Party believes that an effort must be made to include a voice for independent candidates at these meetings. We call on Elections Canada to work towards including a representative from a group whose insight is sorely missed.
While including independent candidates in future meetings will bring a necessary voice to the table it will not immediately change the cumulative disadvantages that independent candidates face.
A number of months ago the Pirate Party proposed possible solutions to the problem of independent candidate financing rules. We argue there needs to be limited means for independent candidates to raise money before an election to adequately compete with party candidates who receive transfers from riding associations who have been raising funds for years before the election. There also needs to be a way for independent candidates to have their hard-earned donations carry over from election to election. To have their fundraising efforts reduced to nothing at the end of each election while party candidates can transfer their money back to the association further widens the gap between independent & party candidates.
We welcome questions about the implementation of our ideas but we firmly believe that this is a paramount issue in party financing rules in need of addressing. Canadians have spoken often and loudly about the need for candidates who are not beholden to party interest. Let’s make it a viable option again. Thank you for your time.
Pirate Party of Canada
-We propose allowing independent candidates to raise funds in the two months leading up to a scheduled general election provided the candidate submits the names of their official agent and their auditor to Elections Canada beforehand. Should the independent candidate receive a party’s nomination, they must hand over all money raised during this period to Elections Canada. All funds will be subject to the same reporting rules as those raised during the election itself.
-Additionally, we propose a new system by which money raised by independent candidates before the end of an election will instead be held in trust by Elections Canada 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. 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. All interest accrued from money held by Elections Canada in this manner will belong to Elections Canada.