The Pirate Party of Canada is looking to win some seats in Ottawa when voters head to the polls in the May 2 general election, says Mikkel Paulson.
“We’re absolutely running every riding with the intention of winning it,” the federal party leader said. “We’re not in this halfheartedly.”
The Pirate party, which is focused on digital and intellectual-property issues, has nominated candidates to run in eleven ridings between B.C. and Quebec.
Three of those candidates are running in B.C.—Travis McCrea in Vancouver Centre, Craig Nobbs in Langley, and Jeremy Cote in Prince George-Peace River.
“We have a fairly small but active member base and a number of them have decided to run,” said Paulson, who is running in Edmonton.
“And we’ve also have a few other people who’ve come forward and said, ”˜Listen, I really agree with your platform and would love to run with you.’”
Paulson said there were hopes of fielding more candidates but the election call came too soon.
“As a new party we’re still in the process of getting all the wheels in motion but we’ll certainly do our best with what we’ve got,” he told the Straight by phone today (April 1).
He said the party will continue accepting candidate nominations until April 4.
Established in mid 2009 amid a growing international movement, the Pirate party officially registered with Elections Canada in 2010.
Paulson, a web developer from Edmonton, was elected as party leader in September 2010.
He indicated the party hopes to have some influence on Canadian politics, whether or not any candidates become MPs.
He noted, for example, the Green party has never won a seat in the House of Commons, adding “and yet they’ve had a massive impact on policy”.
In November, the Pirate party contested its first federal election in Canada. The party’s candidate in the Winnipeg byelection picked up less than one percent of the vote in the seven-way race won by the Liberals.
Asked about the party’s chances in the May general election, Paulson said: “Honestly I’m going to leave that up to the voters.”
While the party’s core platform issues like privacy protection and open government remain important in the campaign, Paulson said candidates will also listen to voters.
“All of our candidates are required to build their own platform in response to the concerns of their constituents,” he said.
“How much they do that based on their constituents and how much they do based on their own opinions varies from candidate to candidate.”
If the party wins in this election, Paulson said it’s unlikely any Pirate MP would join a coalition government, should that be an option.
“Most likely we’d be sitting separate, basically as independents do now and certainly aligning ourselves with other parties on certain issues or certain bills or whatever.”
The Pirate party is also working with several other lower-profile federal parties to hold a debate.
“We’re working with other minor parties to basically organize an all-party debate of our own,” Paulson said.
“We’ve approached the major parties as well and we want to get as many people onboard as we can.”
He said it’s important to hold such an event “because minor parties have been shut out of Canadian politics for too long”.
“I think it’s in our collective interest to combat that and ultimately to benefit democracy because the more parties you have saying more things the more democratic the society and the government are going to be.”
“That’s the point of representative democracy, is you have a lot of choices. You can find someone who speaks best for you and they get your vote.”
Details like the debate’s format, location, and date have not been finalized.
Paulson said he hopes it can be held in-person and on the day between the upcoming televised English and French leaders debates.
“It’s a great way to get attention as well because obviously the issue with the leaders debate and the exclusion of [Green party leader] Elizabeth May is generating a fair bit of attention,” he said.
“We’re saying, ”˜Listen, we’re pissed off about it as well. We’re not surprised but we’re actually going to hold an event that deals with all that and where everybody’s actually welcome.’”
You can follow Stephen Thomson on Twitter at twitter.com/thomsonstraight.