As independent MP Brent Rathgeber told the CBC on Tuesday, the proposed modifications to election laws will make running as an independent candidate even more difficult than it already is. The current system already stacks the odds against these types of candidates and the proposed changes significantly increase that difficulty. A hurdle that independent candidates already face
is the requirement that all remaining funds at the end of the election must be surrendered to Elections Canada. This handicap is placed upon independent candidates alone and is not shared by candidates running under a party banner. As a result of this, while party candidates can retain these funds for the next election. independents are faced with having to rebuild their entire funding with each election.
Currently, elected MPs that take a public stand against their party, their leader, or their party’s position on any number of issues are left with a choice to make: leave their party, risk being ejected by their leadership for standing their ground, or backing down on the issue. With the proposed changes, and the current rules, MPs will find if even more burdensome to leave their party, whether by their own choice or not, and thereby further strengthening party discipline.
In response to these issues the Pirate Party of Canada has a solution. 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 the interim will belong to Elections Canada.
“With these changes, candidates will be able to compete on a more even playing field”, says James Wilson, Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada. “To be honest, if a race came down to an independent candidate and a Pirate candidate I would, of course, prefer the Pirate to be victorious. However, elections should be about which candidate has the platform most acceptable to the voters in their riding and not who has the rules stacked in their favour. Winning the race because you have an inherent advantage over your opponent is neither fair nor honourable.” The Pirate Party of Canada values the independent voices in Parliament, whether they’re independent by choice or by circumstance. We urge Parliament to work towards giving them a fair deal.
The Pirate Party of Canada is a federal political party focused on thoughtful information policy reform, genuine democracy, civil liberties, and the freedom of the Internet. You can find out more online at www.pirateparty.ca .