Sunday, July 05, 2009

Who Would The Canadian Pirate Party Hurt?

When Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer narrowly lost his seat to the NDP's Linda Duncan in 2008, no less than four groups claimed or were assigned credit for the defeat: radical Islamists, the vote-swapping AnyonebutHarper people, George Soros, and--with at least as much credibility as any of these--Michael Geist's gang of copyright warriors.

Now, The Pirate Party--a Swedish organization dedicated to loosening copyright laws and tightening laws related to Internet and real world privacy-- is contemplating a move into Canada:

Right now, they're a handful of loosely-organized individuals spread across the country. But they want to become an official federal political party within the next few years and get enough support to persuade Parliament to relax proposed copyright laws they say are heavy-handed and a violation of personal privacy.

It would be a mistake to dismiss the impact such a party might have on the Canadian electoral landscape. On September 10th, 2001, probably the biggest news story on the planet was the fate of Napster. Unfortunate events served to wipe their legal problems off the front pages, but as Mr. Geist's rise to prominence in the last couple of years has shown, in Canada there exists a block of potential voters for whom copyright issues are near and dear. One per cent of the populace? Maybe, some day down the road. In June's European Parliament elections The Pirate Party drew a little over seven percent of the Swedish vote, enough for a seat in the EU parliament, after being in existence barely three years.

And its interesting to try and game out which of the extant national parties this addition might hurt. You would think the usual suspects--ie the perennially hapless NDP--but on the other hand Michael Geist has suggested that copyright reform brought out many traditional non-voters during the 2008 election. And there is even a Libertarian slice of the CPoC (Conservative Party of Canada) who might be swayed by their message.

And while, like the Green Party, it is highly unlikely the Pirates could achieve a seat in the House of Commons anytime soon, they might well--like the Green Party--be able to effect some degree of policy change from outside of this venue.

Interesting times indeed.


Hishighness said...

While I support the principals of the Pirate Party and to most degrees the Green Party, my argument has always been it's better to join an established party that closely resembles your philosophy and try to change it from within. You have a lot better chance of actually achieving your goal that way.

Imagine if everyone in the Green Party and the NDP suddenly joined the Liberal party. They'd instantly have a lot more influence than they do now, and when the next election rolled around they'd be able to be a part of government, which will never ever happen for either party now outside of a coalition. I'd rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an ocean.

All these fringe parties do is draw votes away from parties who would be their allies and allow parties that are vehemently opposed to such policies to come up the middle and win more seats.

Ti-Guy said...

The Dippers don't play well with other people. Half the people I know vote NDP and you simply can't have a reasonnable discussion with them when it comes to politics, unless you just agree with them.

Spudster said...

They will have about as much effect as the marijuana party did, which, it should be stated, was a lot. The Liberals took up decrim in 2003 partly because they were seeping so many votes to the marijuana party. Nowadays, most parties support marijuana decrim and the party has little reason to exist any more. Parties can be an amazingly powerful pressure groups to influence mainstream parties. So yes, a Pirate Party is a good idea even if it stands no chance of picking up a seat.

Rob Britton said...

> I'd rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an ocean.

Unfortunately there are those who support some of the parties you listed but never the other - if they joined, what would happen to those voters? I am an example myself, I vote Green yet would never vote for the NDP. If the NDP joined with the Liberals and Greens, I'd probably vote Conservative depending on how much of the NDP agenda was pushed into the new party.

Spudster completely understands it. While it would be nice if we got votes, our goal is to bring our views to the mainstream. If that is done by influencing the other parties, then why would we need to be elected?