Depending on the party, they love pot, hate Stephen Harper or just want to have fun. Fringe parties are a perennial fixture in Canadian politics, and so far there are more than a dozen registered to run in this fall’s federal election. The best most can hope for is to scrape up a few thousand votes based on a niche platform or protest ballots from disenfranchised electors. So what drives them — and do they add or detract from the democratic process? Sinclair Stevens, the 88-year-old leader of the Progressive Canadian Party, is mobilizing yet another campaign with one sole purpose: to defeat Stephen Harper. “He has an agenda that is just not Canadian,” he told CBC News.
See also: Rhinos and Pirates: A look at Canada’s federal fringe parties
Stevens, a former cabinet minister in Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney governments, was a bitter and legal opponent of the merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties. He plans to target up to 30 ridings — 15 of them in Ontario — where stealing even some votes from Tories in tight races could make a difference.
“We don’t have a significant political following, but we can cause Harper a lot of trouble,” he said.
There are now 20 political parties registered for the Oct. 19 federal election.