In our last post we talked about the two biggest parties. But despite what the Conservatives and Liberals will tell you, there are more than two choices this election. There are officially 21. But only few of them have any chance of making a dent.
So, now it’s time to talk about the parties that someone decided were considered “major.” Who decided that and why? No idea. But someone did. And God bless them, because the entirety of my blog relies on useless political nonsense like that.
There are four other parties that are considered major parties. The reality of the “major party” title is that it means they have any hope at all of winning a seat in parliament. That is definitely true for 2 of these parties, and technically true for one. The last one managed to convince our aforementioned unknown hero that they aren’t crazy. So we have four major parties. Sort of.
The New Democratic Party
Who they are: They’re not new. Let’s just get that out of the way. For unknown reasons they keep the “new” part of their name, even though they’ve been around since the great depression (which was actually bad, not great – I was shocked too). They originated as a full-blown socialist party, but in recent years they’ve tried to distance themselves from the socialist term. Not the socialist policies, mind you. Just the term. They are progressive party on both social and economic issues and the unabashedly fight for bigger government and more regulation.
Why people love them: Until very recently, the NDP was the most left-leaning major party. For a lot of progressive minded people, they were the only realistic option. While their popularity has been hurt since the death of their most successful and popular leader, they have the benefit of a lot of history fighting for progressive issues. They advocate for major government spending on social programs and intervention is financial matters. They also have the first non-white, non-Christian leader of a major party in Canada.
Why people hate them: Well, for starters, some people are racist. But mostly, the NDP is hurt by their extreme left reputation in a country that, despite its reputation, is only moderately (albeit consistently) progressive. For most Canadians, the NDP is too extreme. They are also hurt by the emergence of the Green Party and what many people perceive as leadership that is less charismatic than other progressive options. But really people should hate them for still using the word “new” in their name. That’s really dumb.
The bottom line: The NDP’s best showing came in 2011 when they formed opposition. Other than that, they’ve never seen much success at the federal level. After Jack Layton’s death, the NDP has been soul searching and has had one unpopular leader followed by another. This election will be telling for them as there are calls from within and without for a merger with the Green Party to unite the left flank if federal politics. If they can’t get a decent showing, they will no doubt face another leadership contest and have to do some tweaking to their platform.
The Green Party
Who they are: Green as in environment. Not weed. Although, that too. The Green party famously started out as a one issue party. They championed environmentalism long before it was good politics. Contrary to most people’s perception of them though, the modern-day Greens are a serious party that actually has a full platform that was the first to be fully costed (reviewed) by the Parliamentary Budget Office. They are super left leaning in all of their policies and environmental policy colours everything in the platform, but the Greens are now all grown up and have begun to eat at the adult table.
Why people love them: Climate change. You may have heard of it. It’s real. The Greens started to make incremental gains as the realities of climate change started to set in. They then showed that they were for real as they expanded their platform. Similar to the NDP, the Greens appeal to hardline progressives. The Greens’ outsider status means the party tends to be home to many Canadians who have outside the mainstream opinions on things like medicine, disease, and the role of large corporations in Canadian society.
Why people hate them: They want to save the trees. The realities of climate change have gained popular acceptance, but the response to these realities is the source of much debate. To make the kinds of radical changes the Greens propose, there will have to be a lot of sacrifice – particularly from industry. When it comes to balancing economic and environmental concerns, the Greens always side with the environment. There is a case to be made for that being prudent, but for people trying to put food on their table, it can be scary.
The bottom line: The Greens elected their leader to parliament for the first time two elections ago and have made moderate gains in the popular vote since then. This election, they will be looking to turn those gains into more votes in parliament. That might be difficult to accomplish, but if they can continue to raise in the popular vote then calls for a merger with the NDP will only grow.
The Bloc Quebecois
Who they are: Separatists. That’s it. The Bloc is a single-issue party. They only run candidates in Quebec and their only issue is the promotion of Quebec separatism. Quebec separatism has been an overarching issue in Canadian politics pretty much since confederation. The Bloc was founded in 1990 to advocate for it federally. Since they only run candidates in Quebec, they will never be able to form government. That isn’t a problem for them, since it would defeat their own agenda. Over the years they have varying levels of success and when they do well they gleefully play spoiler and vote only in the interests of Quebec.
Why people love them: They are separatists.
Why people hate them: They are separatists.
The bottom line: In the first 2 decades after its founding, the Bloc was a major factor in Canadian politics. Other parties had to strategize around their existence. But 2015, the Bloc has been a relative nonfactor. Support for Quebec separatism has declined in recent years, which has hurt them. They’ve gone through five leaders in four years and even many separatists are starting to question whether the Bloc is achieving anything of consequence for the cause.
The People’s Party
Who they are: Crazy people. They were formed last year by the guy who lost the race to be conservative leader. Instead of being a decent person and admitting his defeat, he just went and started his own party and said that the party that he almost was elected to lead wasn’t conservative enough. They are known for being hardcore anti immigration. In reality the party is full blown racist. Seriously, this was a billboard that was approved by the party. Being a new party that has never contested an election before, they have no record to hold them to. At this point they seem to be using shock value to stay in the news.
Why people love them: They’re crazy and/or racist.
Why people hate them: They’re crazy and/or racist.
The bottom line: The PPC doesn’t stand a chance. Even their leader, who was popular enough within the Conservative party to come in second in their leadership race doesn’t have much chance of winning his seat. But they somehow convinced someone who matters that they belong in the debates. Their best hope of making any dent is to convince people that the Conservatives are too moderate and steal a few votes from other crazy people.