Where have Rhinos gone? The election needs a helping of fringe candidates to spice up the debate

Robert Barron column: Where are the fringe candidates?

Alternate views make an election more interesting and informative for everybody

Where is the Marxist Leninist Party in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford this election cycle?

In the last federal election, the Valley’s Alistair Haythornthwaite joined 70 other Marxist-Leninist candidates across the country who threw their hats in the ring in ridings spanning many provinces, running mainly on an anti-war platform.

He was the only candidate from a fringe party who ran in this riding the last time we voted to send an MP to Ottawa.

This time around we have only the current mainstream parties — Liberals, NDP, Conservatives and the Greens — who have put forth candidates in the riding so far.

Haythornthwaite didn’t win that last election, of course, and took just a fraction of the votes in the riding.

I think he knew he would never win the election, but that didn’t stop him from trying to get his political thinking out there for people to chew on as they considered who they wanted to represent them in Ottawa.

I’ve always found that differing points of political view that parties like the Marxist-Leninists bring to the table is always refreshing in our political discourse, and gives us concepts and ideas to think about that many may not have considered without them.

In my many years covering elections at every level, I have had the opportunity to interview numerous fringe candidates and have been impressed by more than a few of them.

Even the thoughts and ideas of a candidate for the Rhinoceros Party, a party created pretty much to make fun of the whole political process, I interviewed once made more sense to me than most of the candidates for the major parties who were running at the time.

I also recall a provincial election in the 2000s when I was sent to cover a candidate debate in what is now the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.

The candidate for the B.C. Marijuana Party (which I’m not sure still exists now that marijuana is legal) arrived and immediately placed a freezer bag containing about half a pound of pot in front of his podium.

He never batted an eye, nor did anyone else in the packed auditorium, about the marijuana and the candidate then went on to answer questions from the public with such knowledge and professionalism that many people were left scratching their heads about who they really should be voting for.

I thought it was very undemocratic for Haythornthwaite to be excluded from a candidate’s debate that was held during the last federal election campaign in Duncan, hosted by the Victoria chapter of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association and the Dogwood Initiative.

It’s not like there was no space on the stage for Haythornthwaite as just three of the four candidates from the main parties attended the debate.

It seems that, in many cases, those with alternative thinking in how we should be governed are being sidelined as much as possible, allowing only the mainstream thinking to hold sway.

I don’t know if it’s on purpose, or just the result of political ignorance and/or condescension, but it doesn’t serve our democratic purposes and we, as a society, are not the better for it.

So come on you potential candidates from the fringe parties, get your names on the ballot in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford and make this election more interesting and informative for everybody.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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