Canada has had a long tradition of spawning new political parties. Some come and go before the public even know they existed. Some have been around for decades yet rarely field more than a handful of candidates. Others, such as the Reform Party or the Bloc Québécois, never came close to winning an election but have had strong influence on government policies.
There are currently 20 registered federal political parties in Canada. Five of those parties had seats in the House of Commons when the 2021 election was called.
New, alternative political parties are an intrinsic part of the Canadian political system. While it is relatively easy to form a federal political party, it is a tough task to create one that breaks out of the pack and endures. Established political parties jealously guard their turf while voters are hesitant to embrace a new entity.
The mainstream media has a huge impact on the development of new parties as they choose which parties they will cover seriously and which they won’t. Mainstream coverage can lend an air of credibility to a party and make the public more inclined to consider supporting a new movement. While social media has provided a great new platform for nascent movements to spread their word, new parties still need established media outlets in order to garner broad, public recognition.
Two alternative parties that are poised to make a mark in the 2021 election are the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and the Green Party of Canada. Both parties are polling in the 4 percent range across the country and each represents distinct political communities. While those numbers sound low, they represent hundreds of thousands of Canadians who shouldn’t be dismissed.
With many tight races anticipated in this election, alternative parties may very well become spoilers in many of those races. With the right candidates and concentrated support, the PPC and Greens could conceivably win a few seats.
While the Greens and PPC have similarities in their potential to impact the election, the legacy media is treating each party very differently.
The Green Party is taken seriously by the mainstream media while the PPC is treated dismissively.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is often asked for comment on issues while PPC Leader Maxime Bernier tends only to be covered when something negative is happening with his party. The tone in coverage treats the Greens as established and credible while making the PPC appear fringe and temporary.
The Leaders’ Debates Commission is a group made up of representatives of legacy media outlets and they choose which parties will be represented in the electoral debates. They set the bar for entry, and they decided without hesitation to include the Green Party in the 2021 election debates while excluding the PPC. The two parties may be nearly equal in popular support numbers but the Greens clearly have an edge in mainstream media support.
The PPC currently has well over 300 declared candidates in the election campaign and may come close to fielding a full slate across the country. The Green Party on the other hand has about 110 candidates and is thinly represented in many regions. The PPC is well organized on the ground while the Greens are in disarray.
PPC leader Maxime Bernier is a well-established Canadian political figure who served multiple terms in Parliament along with a period as a government cabinet minister. He is in solid control of the PPC. Green leader Annamie Paul has an impressive resume as a lawyer and activist. Unfortunately, a large segment of the Green Party has turned against Paul and the party is currently wracked with infighting. The Green Party has defunded its own leader, and Elizabeth May has been appearing in media as if she represents the leadership of the party again.
I am not trying to make a case to vote for the PPC. I am just pointing out that it is a valid political entity in this election despite how the mainstream media is treating it. The PPC is clearly no less viable as a party than the Greens, but you sure wouldn’t know it by watching mainstream news broadcasts.
With alternative parties being such an important part of Canadian politics, legacy media should really be trying hard to give fair and equal coverage to them. The Greens and the PPC will be impacting the 2021 election and the mainstream media is doing a disservice to the Canadian public by letting their established biases influence the coverage of these parties.
There is no time more important than during an election period for the media to set aside its biases. Unfortunately, Canadian mainstream media hasn’t done so.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.