Fed up with traditional party politics? Why not start your own?
Canadian political history is replete with passionate (and, on rare occasions, successful) attempts to wrestle some degree of political power and media attention away from mainstream parties.
Individuals on a mission can be the prime movers of these attempts. Preston Manning, scion of a political family, launched and led the federal Reform Party as a protest against Western alienation. Sometimes these things bubble up within existing parties. The Waffle, a left-wing rump in the NDP, rose up within that party in the 1960s, only to be later expunged.
Take a look at snapshots of some of these start-up political parties – and the people leading them – over the years.
Canadian Action Party – Paul Hellyer shopped himself around to various political parties over several decades. And one day in 1997 he started his own. But voters weren’t interested. Three years later CAP slipped under the waves.
Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party – Surely one of the worst acronyms in Canadian political history, CCRAP – the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party –– was born out the so-called “United Alternative” movement of right-wing parties in the late 1990s. CCRAP wasn’t the nascent party’s actual name: supporters called it the Canadian Alliance. But the label stuck, and within a few years the party blended with the Progressive Conservatives.
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation – Initially calling for economic cooperation and nationalization of key industries in the early 1930s, this Western protest party grew into a formidable political force over the years, especially at the provincial level under Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan. A declining federal CCF gave birth to the New Democratic Party in 1961.
Créditistes – Quebec wing of the Social Credit Party of Canada, the Ralliement des créditistes du Canada was created in 1958 by Réal Caouette, a former Social Credit MP. Its fortunes rose over the next decade or so, but fell with Caouette’s ill health and eventual death in 1976.
Labour-Progressive Party – A front for the Communist Party of Canada (banned in 1940), the LLP twice won a seat in the House of Commons. Fred Rose won a by-election in 1943 in the Montreal riding of Cartier, and again two years later. But the tides soon turned against Rose. Caught up in the Gouzenko Affair, Rose was imprisoned for spying and kicked out of the House. Years later the LLP morphed back into Communist Party of Canada.
Natural Law Party – Led by magician Doug Henning, members of the NLP believed that yogic flying and meditative transcendence would bring peace and harmony to public policy. But that was a real stretch, and their party never took off. The NLP folded up its mats in 2004.
People’s Party – After almost winning the 2017 leadership convention of the Conservative Party, Maxime Bernier decided to “pull a Macron” and start his own party. But he badly miscalculated. Canadian voters soundly rejected Bernier and his platform in the 2019 federal election, and Bernier lost his own seat. The people had spoken about the People’s Party.
Progressive Party – A short-lived federal-provincial party in the 1920s, the Progressives were an outgrowth of farmers’ concerns during the First World War over tariffs. Their new party initially yielded electoral success. But their political harvests were rare after that. The Party dissolved in 1930.
Rhinoceros Party – Since their beginning in 1963, Rhinoceros Party have promised to keep none of their promises if elected. Running in 2019 under the slogan “Voting Makes You Horny”, they promised to make “Sorry” the new official motto of Canada if elected.
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