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.