The very first leader of the Rhino Party of Canada was Cornelius The First, a black rhinoceros at the Granby Zoo in Québec. He was an appropriate choice, according to the party, because all politicians are "thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted, can move fast as hell when in danger, and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces."
In the years since the satirical party was launched in 1963, they have put forth an impressively diverse list of campaign promises—the overriding promise being that they promise not keep any of their promises. They've suggested, among many other things, repealing the law of gravity, making the Trans-Canada Highway a one-way road, turning Manitoba into the world's largest parking lot, re-counting the Thousand Islands to make sure the United States hasn't stolen any of them since we last checked, abolishing the environment because it's too hard to take care of, putting the national debt on VISA, and declaring war on Belgium because Tintin killed a rhino once—an international crisis that was only narrowly averted when the Belgian government agreed to send beer and mussels to the Rhino Party head offices.
The party's popularity peaked in 1984, when Cornelius got about 100,000 votes—a full percent of the ballots cast. Yes, you are reading that correctly: in the 1984 federal election one out of every hundred Canadians who voted, voted for a rhinoceros. But then in 1993, the laws were changed so that every party had to run candidates in at least 50 ridings, with a thousand dollar fee for each one. The Rhino Party was forced to fold.
It was only a few years ago, when the laws were changed again, that the party was resurrected. The leader of the second Rhino Party is François "Yo" Gourd. He was a candidate back in the party's early days and has since become one of the masterminds behind the entartistes, the group who have thrown pies in the faces of politicians like Jean Chretien, Ralph Klein, Jean Charest, Stephane Dion and Allan Rock.
In 2008, Gourd's Rhino Party ran seven candidates and won 2,122 votes. That was 0.02% of the ballots cast. They finished 13th of the 19 parties who ran, just behind the Marijuana Party and ahead of the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party.
We recently sent Gourd a series of questions about his party and his thoughts on the current campaign. Here's what he sent back:
We plan to run around 20 candidates.
We represent the 40% of the people who do not vote. We say that it is important to vote. We want to abolish the military budget. We want to abolish the fiscal evasion paradise. We want to abolish the Canadian goverment who has divided us for too long. We want to be like Europe. We say: Vive la Colombie libre. Vive l'Alberta libre! Vive l'Ontario libre! Vive le Québec Libre!
We will unite Québec to Cuba and create a new country called CUBEC.
Every candidate before he speaks at the parliament will have to say a joke before he talks.
Apathy is the worst thing that can hapen to the Canadian people.
The voters that have lost their faith in all the other parties are among our voters. If the clowns can organise and create an official party then everybody can, even petrocan...
Economy for the rich and the payment for all the others. We are being robbed by the big companies in complicity by the conservatives and liberals. Vote NDP, Vote Bloc. Vote Marijuana. Vote Communist. Vote Rhino, but vote....
The Rhino party have been there since 1963 and we have changed the face of Canadian democracy.
We want the return of smiling faces on Canadian passports.
We want to put aside the priests, the bishops, the rabbis. Get out he who says that he will talk to god for you and ask for a donation in return. God has no religion said Gandhi. God is in everybody, god is everybody.
Free marijuana for those who want to smoke freely.
Use hemp for making paper, oil, etc.
Take the rocky mountains and bring them to fill up the tar sand holes in Alberta.
Kick the Toronto mayor out...
Bring beds in the senate so they can sleep
Put Harper on a diet so he looses his belly.
We are Harper's bizarres...
We want the world and we want it now.....
We want to sing and laugh our way to Ottawa.
We promise you the moon!
You can learn more about the Rhinoceros Party by visiting them online at www.neorhino.ca.
This is the fourth 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.
Libertarian Party of Canada, VP of Political Action John Shaw here.
Pirate Party of Canada, former leader Jake Daynes 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.