Federal Election 2011

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2011 Federal Election Platform

  1. Copyright Law
    • Reinforce and protect fair dealing.
    • Decriminalize non-commercial file sharing, and prohibit statutory damages for non-commercial sharing.
    • Allow content creators to explicitly dedicate material to the public domain.
    • Reform crown copyright to ensure open access to Canadians.
  2. Patent Law
    • Reduce patent terms to 5 years, and require a higher standard of originality.
      • Eliminate patents on genes, organisms, software, and business models.
    • Reallocate funds saved in health care due to patent reform to public pharmaceutical research, the results of which are to be made publicly available.
  3. Privacy
    • Enforce the same privacy laws on electronic communication as the traditional postal service.
    • Strengthen the powers of Privacy Commissioner.
    • Fight bills and regulation that violate your right to personal privacy.
  4. Net Neutrality
    • Reform the CRTC to prevent abuses by limiting the telecom industry executives to a minority, and include consumer advocates on the board.
    • Fund undersea cables to Europe and Asia rather than relying on American bandwidth and thus being subject to American regulation, including wiretap laws.
    • Ensure unfettered access to telecom infrastructure for independent service providers, in order to foster broader competition.
  5. Open Government & Open Access
    • Create a combined approach of proactive release of information to the public while easing access by request.
    • Expedite freedom of information requests and reduce costs by sharing information digitally.
    • Lower or eliminate the cost of filing of FOI requests.
    • Increase the power and scope of the PSIC, and establish an anonymous online dropbox system.
  6. Whistleblower & Journalist Protection
    • Introduce legislation to provide or reinforce protection for journalists and whistleblowers, to encourage the exposure of corruption.
  7. Protecting Canadians' Charter Rights
    • The Pirate Party will stand up against violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly infringement of freedom of expression and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

2011 Federal Election Candidates

The Pirate Party of Canada ran its first slate of candidates in the 2011 Federal Election. Although 15 Pirate stepped forward to run as candidates, only 10 were able to secure the necessary 100 signatures to enable them to run in the election. A very special thank-you goes out to all candidates and volunteers.

The riding links in the following table will redirect to resource pages for those ridings. These pages may include candidate profiles, media links, web page links, collateral, riding information, post-election reports or other materials. Candidates and volunteers for these ridings are encouraged to add the information that they collected throughout the campaign. This information will aid in preparation for the next election in 2015. Thank-you.

2011 Federal Election Results -- By Party

Party Seats Votes Candidates Riding Average
Conservative 167 5832401 307 18998.0 39.95%
NDP 102 4508474 308 14637.9 30.78%
Bloc Québécois 4 889788 75 11863.8 24.95%
Liberal 34 2783175 308 9036.3 19.00%
Green 1 576221 304 1895.5 3.99%
PC 0 5838 9 648.7 1.36%
Christian Heritage 0 19218 46 417.8 0.88%
Marijuana 0 1864 5 372.8 0.78%
Pirate 0 3198 10 319.8 0.67%
Rhino 0 3819 14 272.8 0.57%
Libertarian 0 6017 23 261.6 0.55%
FPNP 0 228 1 228.0 0.48%
Animal Alliance 0 1451 7 207.3 0.44%
Western Bloc 0 748 4 187.0 0.39%
Canadian Action 0 2030 12 169.2 0.36%
Communist 0 2925 20 146.3 0.31%
Marxist-Leninist 0 10160 70 145.1 0.31%
United 0 294 3 98.0 0.21%

2011 Federal Election Results -- By Riding

Riding Province Candidate Votes % Placement
Edmonton Centre Alberta Mikkel Paulson 289 0.59% 5/6
Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont Alberta Brent Schaffrick 374 0.82% 5/6
Langley British Columbia Craig Nobbs 353 0.64% 5/5
Nanaimo-Alberni British Columbia Jesse Schroeder 363 0.55% 5/7
Prince George-Peace River British Columbia Jeremy Coté 415 1.08% 5/5
Vancouver Centre British Columbia Travis McCrea 192 0.33% 7/8
Provencher Manitoba Ric Lim 215 0.55% 6/6
Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario Steven Bradley Scott 245 0.37% 5/7
Ottawa South Ontario Mike Bleskie 382 0.65% 6/6
Laval—Les Îles Quebec Stéphane Bakhos 369 0.68% 6/7

2011 Leader's Report

Introduction

Following the election, we asked each of our candidates to produce a report detailing their experiences during the election. All of our candidates were rookies on the federal scene, and only one, Brent Schaffrick in Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, had any experience with running for office. As a consequence, this first election was a trial by fire both for our candidates and for the party as a whole.

This report will detail common threads in submitted candidates’ reports and detail experiences with regard to the party as a whole. In the appendices are the reports written by candidates or their representatives.

Common threads

In the 41st general election, we prepared 13 candidates in 5 provinces, of whom 10 made it onto the ballot, each of whom have provided a report on their experiences during the election. These reports take a broad variety of forms and have different emphases, with experiences varying from candidate to candidate and riding to riding. However, there are certain themes that appear again and again.

Canvassing

Canvassing is cheap, and the best way to engage people on a personal level. Despite the strong potential of communications technology, particularly for a tech-savvy party, there is no substitute for a knock at the door.

Unfortunately, it is also the most time-consuming aspect of campaigning. Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont candidate Brent Schaffrick spent hundreds of hours door-knocking in his riding, and received a strong 0.82% of the vote as a result. Not all candidates were able to invest so much time in their campaign, but there is a definite correlation between time spent canvassing and number of votes received.

Debates and forums

Many candidates, including Steven Bradley Scott in Kitchener—Waterloo, Jesse Schroeder in Provencher, and Mike Bleskie in Ottawa Centre, were singled out by the media as among the most well-spoken at their respective forums. Several candidates’ reports emphasize the importance of being well-prepared, presenting a respectful and credible image, and fighting for the right to participate in forums where necessary.

Preparation

Organization and short notice proved to be a hindrance to candidates; conversely, being well-prepared for events and speaking to constituents paid off well. As much of this as possible should be done prior to the election. Beyond ensuring that the party has adequate resources to support candidates in their preparation, it is important that candidates are chosen far enough in advance. This subject will be discussed in more detail later in the report.

Party support

Our candidates were for the most part left to fend for themselves. While all of them proved to be resourceful, the limited resources available to them from the party led to a great deal of wasted time and duplicated effort. Steven Bradley Scott in Kitchener—Waterloo and Jeremy Coté in provides an extensive list of the materials that the party should make available for future candidates in his report.

A first priority for the party should be to complete the style guide and begin producing templates and generic material: flyers, posters, Facebook and Twitter avatars and badges, and more. We should also take the time to prepare a comprehensive manual for candidates and their agents and campaign managers. Elections Canada already provides resources for this, but collating it and providing information from the party would be helpful, particularly for the rookies next election, but for our seasoned candidates as well.

Volunteers

A significant issue proved to be the recruitment and management of volunteers. Holding more meetings and rallies at the beginning of the election, as well as doing telephone canvassing of local members, may help to increase volunteer support. Sometimes it seems easier just to do something rather than spending the time trying to find someone else to do it or to help, but investing that time early on will significantly increase the amount of ground that can be covered and the skill set that can be drawn upon.

Campaign signs

Stephane Bakhos in Laval—Les Îles is the only candidate who purchased signs for his campaign. Despite having only limited time to commit to campaigning and running in the riding with the lowest per-capita membership of all of our candidates, Stephane had a respectable showing, coming in third place among Pirate Party candidates with 0.68% of the vote. While campaign signs represent a significant expense, a small order of signs may merit consideration in a campaign with surplus funds available. Costs may vary from region to region, as constituents in some regions expect signs to bear the candidate’s photo while others do not.

Party issues

Advertising

As required by the Canada Elections Act, the party received a certain amount of free TV and radio advertising time. However, none of our ad pieces completed prior to the due date. While all were ultimately accepted, we can’t afford this disorganization in future. Ads should be prepared before the election begins or in the early days of the election. The videos also proved to be mildly successful on YouTube. While we will have no such free advertising in the coming years, we should continue to produce videos to share on YouTube. One of our original ideas for advertisements was to hold a design contest for party members. While ultimately we didn’t feel that the response would be strong enough to merit it, this is something worth considering in the future.

Making waves

The Pirate Party received an appreciable amount of media attention out of the gate as we announced that we would be contesting the first general election outside of Europe. Many local publications also printed stories on their candidate, either as a particular piece or as a larger survey of the options in the riding. Once that attention had died down, and after the Conservatives had announced their platform, we landed in the spotlight once again with our announcement of VPN services to protect Canadians from a Conservative government. This announcement was hailed by one publication as “one of the election’s most innovative policies”, and drew attention to the Conservative policy regarding privacy. Indeed, this announcement couldn’t have been made at a better time, and put us (and the Conservative’s privacy policy) in the public eye not long before election day.

In the 42nd general election, we will have lost the novelty factor. Therefore, it will be our responsibility to repeat the success of the VPN announcement in the next election. Publicity stunts will always be a part of politics.

All-party leaders’ forum

Another major attention-grabber was the leaders’ forum held in Toronto. This event was initiated by the Pirate Party, which reached out to the other parties’ leaders regarding a videoconference debate. The Canadian Action Party and Online Party ultimately decided to organize an in-person meeting, which we attended. Unfortunately, the event was not as successful as we had hoped. Much of the audience was clearly comprised of supporters of one party or another, though there was no booing or negative comments aimed at rival parties. No live stream was available for an event that had originally been intended to be online-only, and only a few handheld videos of speeches were posted by attendees and the few fringe news media reporters who were present.

As I was in Edmonton and we had minimal activity in the Toronto area, we weren’t able to be active in the planning or promotion of the event. This is a must in the future, as I didn’t see a single poster or announcement advertising the event on my way to the forum, nor were there any signs directing people where to go. Furthermore, the Online Party successfully co-opted the event for their own purposes. Not only were they permitted to participate alongside the other parties that were actually running candidates despite the leader’s own admission that they had no intention of registering as a party, their logo was placed on signs scattered around the auditorium.

The structure of the event was similarly disappointing. It opened with lengthy statements by party leaders, followed by a handful of questions responded to at great length. The moderator seemed reluctant to interject, and the Q&A period was only scheduled to last for a half-hour. There was no accommodation for closing statements. While this remains a good idea in principle and one that should definitely be pursued again in the next election, we must have a larger stake in the organization of the event. In particular, it will need a clear declaration of purpose: to inform voters. The Online Party’s participation was irrelevant to this goal. It will also need a stronger emphasis on interaction with the public, a more active moderator, and better promotion. Federal Council

Of the five-member Federal Council, three were running for office, and one more was acting as the agent of another candidate. The divided responsibilities seriously crippled the Council for the course of the election, and no regular meetings were held during the 5-week period. While it is naturally expected that the party leader should run for office, other members of the Council should be required to resign or take a leave of absence before standing for election so as to ensure that the party governance isn’t crippled when it is needed most.

Selection of candidates

At the time of the issuance of the writ, the party had 3 candidates ready to go, one of whom had been elected only days before. Under the party constitution, the Federal Council has the right to appoint additional eligible candidates once the election is in progress, which it ultimately did 10 times. 3 of the candidates, all of which had been appointed, failed to submit their applications in time or were subsequently rejected by Elections Canada.

The application cutoff date set by the Council of 1 week before Elections Canada’s close of nominations proved to be too late. Our later nominees had the most trouble completing their paperwork, or were unable to do so.

Furthermore, the requirement that the Council appoint last-minute candidates quickly could have had significant repercussions. Where possible, we met with prospective candidates in person to discuss interest and commitment, and to gauge how well they would represent us. However, only one of the appointed candidates, Ric Lim in Provencher, had any prior involvement in the party. That considered, we were extremely fortunate to have the slate of strong and committed candidates that we ultimately had.

Ultimately, the decision to allow the Federal Council to appoint candidates was a good one. Our best-preforming candidates were appointed by the Council, and it allowed us to run a slate of 10 candidates in 5 provinces rather than 3 candidates in 2 provinces, as we would have without the ability to appoint. However, it does need to be used with more care in the future.

Electoral District Associations

While the Federal Council considered the idea some months ago, we never moved on the issue of forming Electoral District Associations (EDAs) in ridings where we intended to run candidates. While not required, EDAs can greatly simplify the accounting for candidates, allowing them to get out of the gate sooner. In particular, they can accept donations before a candidate’s registration is confirmed, accept financial transfers from the party, and pay campaign expenses such flyers and rent on a campaign office. Contributions to EDAs do not stack with parties or candidates as far as contribution limits are concerned, so an individual can contribute $1100 each to a party, candidate, and EDA in a single calendar year, effectively increasing our individual contribution limit from $2200 to $3300.

This should be done for the next election. Procedural benefits aside, requiring our candidate applicants to form their own Electoral District Associations in order to represent the party would provide a useful meter of an applicant’s commitment prior to the election. Establishing an official presence in a riding can also be beneficial in encouraging activity and continued participation, making a call to arms easier once an election is called.

Conclusion

Despite our failure to elect a candidate, I consider this election to be a successful one. We have gained an appreciable amount of support, surpassing all but three other small parties in per-candidate share of the vote. Perhaps more importantly, the media attention resulting from our campaign gave us an opportunity to speak to the issues central to our platform. This is why the Pirate Party exists, and at this we succeeded well beyond my expectations.

A more considered review of the results will be needed in the months to come. Poll-by-poll results should be examined to determine correlations between our support base and distribution of votes to other candidates, thereby allowing us to more effectively target our support base. Furthermore, the survey prepared prior to the election should be sent out to all members. 0.67% is only the beginning. Following the lessons learned in this election, and after four years of growth and stewardship, I am confident that the Pirate Party will attain a significantly stronger position, both by number of candidates and share of the popular vote.


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