Gatineau, QC - For the past 3 years I have attended the Elections Canada Broadcast Arbitrator meetings, where the current Arbitrator Peter S. Grant lays out his decision for how much air time political parties have the right to purchase during elections. In those 3 years almost every minor party has requested equal treatment and access to purchase airtime, just as the larger parties are allowed. These requests have gone ignored, with small parties being given 6 minutes of time while larger parties get around 100 minutes, but we have remained silent.
This year Mr. Grant has gone too far in a bid to silence minor parties by explicitly stating that Canadians should not have to listen to smaller parties because some have regional issues or limited platforms. Parties like mine, The Pirate Party, a general platform party that is on track to take a majority government in Iceland, holds MEP seats in the EU, and many other governmental positions around the world, have been deemed not worthy of having access to buy the same amount of air time as the Liberal or Conservative Party.
Courts have already ruled that Elections Canada cannot treat minor parties differently than the big parties, this was one of the benefits afforded to us in Figuroa vs Canada. Not only are his actions wrong, but they fly in the face of Canadians charter rights to be fully educated about their options and to play a meaningful role in the election process. Every citizen of Canada has the right to play a meaningful role in the election process, and a right to be educated about their options for who might represent them in Parliament. We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re asking for equal treatment.
In the past we let this issue go, however the possibility of election reform and even a push for proportional elections signals a chance at representing the thousands of Canadians who have supported us since we became an officially registered party in 2010. We can finally hold office and hold Parliament accountable for transparency and evidence based policy making.
However, by not giving us access to equal time Peter Grant says “Canadians don’t need to know about the Pirate Party.”
We live in a world where the media talks about the Conservatives, NDP, Liberals, and even the Greens every day, but our candidates are not invited to “all party” debates and functions. We have minimal free advertising compared to what the other groups get. The CPC, LPC, and NDP can always get more airtime than the minimum if they want it. Broadcasters are more reluctant to sell airtime to minor parties, so it’s essential that our parties have the equal opportunity to buy the airtime we need to be competitive against establishment parties.
Our party may be small, but we are not single issue and we are not a local party. We consistently meet the milestones that Elections Canada requires us to achieve to keep our party status. We are a real party, no different than others, and we should have equal opportunity to buy advertising time necessary to get our message out to the Canadians who might otherwise have never heard of us.
Have you heard of us? How many minor parties do you know exist in Canada? Give us the ability to spend the money and tell you about our platform by signing our petition demanding equal access to purchase advertising time: