Still, they are more about supporting causes than winning votes. In their first election in 2006, they purposefully fielded the minimum of one candidate and openly threw their support behind the NDP. In 2008, the last time we went to the polls, they ran four and won 527 votes. That's less than 0.01% of the ballots cast. They finished 16th of the 19 parties who ran, ahead of the Work Less Party, the Western Block Party and the People's Political Power Party.
This time around, they have seven candidates. Their website highlights some of their current concerns: the seal hunt, coyote-killing contests near Ottawa, a proposed elk hunt near Algonquin Park, various wildlife culls around the country, factory farming practices, and animal transportation regulations. (They point out that currently cows can be transported without food, water or rest for 57 straight hours, pigs for 36.)
We recently spoke with leader Liz White, who is a candidate in Thornhill, to get her thoughts on the party and the current campaign.
How would you describe your party to a voter who isn't already familiar with it?
The mandate of our party is to protect all animals and the environment we share through electoral politics, legislative advocacy and education.
What do you think is the most important issue facing voters in this election?
The most important issue facing voters is the environment and related issues such as global warming, and the increase in the number of species at risk. Our very lives depend on a clean, healthy robust environment. The environment is about the cleanliness of the air we breath and the water we drink. Disregard for environmental consequences will impact every aspect of our lives.
What kind of voter do you expect your party to appeal to?
Our candidates know that they are likely not to receive very many votes. The purpose of running is to raise issues that none of the other parties are raising. We are also appealing to voters who want to see real change both in electoral policies and environmental and animal protection policies.
What do you see as the biggest flaw in the way the country has been run over the last few years?
The biggest flaw is the electoral process. We need some form of proportional representation so that issues that are not reflected by the major parties find some democratic expression through elected representation.
In the 2006 campaign, your party openly endorsed NDP candidates. Are you asking for voters to choose the Animal Alliance over any other party in this election? And if so, what's your response to people who suggest that voting for a lesser-known political party is tantamount to throwing your vote away?
We are recommending anyone but Harper so depending on the particular riding will depend on the message we send to our supporters.
What is the biggest challenge you expect your party to face over the course of the campaign?
The biggest challenge is having sufficient resources to run a significant campaign in at least one riding. However, it takes time to learn how to campaign and our people are just leaning how to be candidates.
What has have happened by the time the election is over for you to look back on it as a success?
Success will be measured by candidates from other parties who we have convinced to change their mind on issues like the seal hunt, horse slaughter, farm animal transport and a new hands off approach to the management of our national parks and protected areas.
What are your long-term hopes for your party? Where would you like to see it in five or ten years?
Activists in the Netherlands have demonstrated that in a system of proportional representation, animal activists can get elected as has happened with The Party for the Animals. In Israel, animal protection folks are elected at the municipal level. Our party will be well situated to win a seat or two at the federal level should proportional representation ever become a reality in Canada.
You can learn more about the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party by visiting them online at www.environmentvoters.org.
This is the seventh in a series of profiles we will be posting over the course of the campaign. Here are the others we have published so far:
Canadian Action Party, leader Christopher Porter here.
United Party of Canada, leader Brian Jedan, here.Marijuana Party of Canada, leader Blair T. Longley here.
Rhinoceros Party of Canada, leader Francois "Yo" Gound here.
Libertarian Party of Canada, VP of Political Action John Shaw here.
Pirate Party of Canada, former leader Jake Daynes here.
Christian Heritage Party of Canada, Executive Director Vicki Gunn here.
Communist Party of Canada, campaign coordinator Dave Andrews here.
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) leader Anna DiCarlo here.