Fringe Party Profiles: The Pirate Party

The world's first Pirate Party was founded in Sweden just a few years ago. They wanted to loosen copyright laws, make peer-to-peer file sharing legal, abolish the patent system and strengthen privacy protections. They got off to a remarkably quick start, in part thanks to their ties to the ridiculously popular Pirate Bay torrent site, which was raided by Swedish authorities within months of the party's founding. The site's co-founders and backers were put on trial for copyright infringement and within hours of the guilty verdict, party membership had surged to become one of the largest in Sweden. When it came time for the country to elect representatives for the European parliament in 2009, the Pirates won two seats.

In the meantime, other Pirate Parties had sprung up across Europe. And that summer, the Canadian Pirate Party became the very first — and to this point only — to be officially registered outside of Europe. The Canadian party also believes in the kind of copyright and privacy reforms as their Swedish counterparts. And their website argues for net neutrality — preventing Internet service providers like Bell and Rogers from purposefully slowing down the kinds of web traffic they don't like, as they do now. The party also highlights their belief in open access to government information — for instance, making all publicly funded research available to everyone. On most other issues, they maintain an officially neutral stance.

This will be the Canadian party's very first federal election. They're running ten candidates. Their first experience at the polls came in a by-election in Winnipeg last year. Their candidate finished 5th of the 7 parties who ran, behind the Greens, but ahead of the Communist Party and the Christian Heritage Party. They got 94 votes. That's 0.6% of the ballots cast in the riding.

We spoke with Jake Daynes, a founding member of the Canadian Pirate Party who was also its first interim leader, about their views and the current campaign.

How would you describe your party to a voter who isn't already familiar with it?

We're a party involved with helping promote direct democracy where MPs take the voice of their constituent to government — not the voice of their party whip.

What kind of voter do you expect your party to appeal to?

We feel that our party appeals to all different voters — from students to grandparents. Who wants the government reading an email they send to their grandchildren? Due to our Block-Neutral stance we have attracted Cons/Libs/Greens/Marxists and many more people from all walks of life.

What policies, if any, does your party support beyond net neutrality, copyright and other web issues?

Outside of our core platform, candidates are mandated with forming a comprehensive platform around the needs of their constituents. We have no party whip and advocate proper, direct, democracy.

What do you see as the biggest flaw in the way the country has been run over the last few years?

The lack of transparency and the catering to corporate interests over Canadian's interests.

What's your response to people who suggest that voting for a lesser-known political party is tantamount to throwing your vote away?

If voting for lesser-known party's is throwing your vote away, then how did the big parties get big? They didn't appear out of nowhere, everybody has to start somewhere — and when has a change in our 2.5 party system been more needed than now?

What has to have happened by the time the election is over for you to look back on it as a success?

I think that so far we've already been able to count this election as a success — we've managed to field 10 candidates in our first general election. We've helped get Canadians talking about our issues with the help of OpenMedia, and so far, we've had good reviews from constituents in almost all of the ridings we are running in.

What are your long-term hopes for your party? Where would you like to see it in five or ten years?

I personally, as a founding member, want to see it in parliament, with at least 1 MP. We've grown faster than any other party in Canada — at 2300 members since mid-late 2009 — and I think we can do it.

You can learn more about the Pirate Party by visiting them online at

This is the sixth 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
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, leader Liz White 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.


Nikki said...

I love these profiles/interviews. I thought I was informed about the fringe parties but if you asked me about the Pirate Party yesterday I would have guessed they were more about swashingbuckling than information-sharing.

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