The Pirate Party of Canada is doing its best to drum up support and be taken seriously as a political movement as it fights its first-ever election campaign.
It's not easy to be taken seriously when you're running for election under the banner of the Pirate Party, especially when that banner features a large, black galleon rolling on the waves. That's why Mikkel Paulson, a freelance web designer who also happens to be the national party leader, is going door-to-door in the riding of Edmonton Center, where he's battling for a seat against more traditional candidates.
"A lot of people on the doorstep, when I introduce myself as being from the Pirate Party... will chuckle for a moment and say, 'Oh, I've got to hear about this'," Paulson told the Edmonton Journal. "Then, that's when we start talking about the platform and start talking about issues and they realize that we are, in fact, a serious party."
The Pirate Party of Canada is running on a platform of dramatic copyright reform in favor of artists and consumers, tightened privacy laws, an overhaul of patent laws that would see the elimination of patents in areas including software, pharmaceuticals and genetics, net neutrality and "open government." It has 11 candidates running in the current election, in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and although the party says it's playing to win, it also acknowledges that it's an uphill battle.
"While we intend to run each of these campaigns with every intention of a win, we recognize that winning is not the only reason to fight," the party said on the day the election was announced. "Every candidate we present gives us one more opportunity to speak for Canadians who have too long gone ignored: those who are concerned by the erosion of their civil and digital rights, those who believe in the importance of placing innovation and creativity over profit, and all those who still believe in democracy in Canada."
A lot of Canadians might be tempted to dismiss the Pirate Party out of hand, but it's worth remembering that the Pirate Party of Sweden, the world's first, sent two representatives to the European Parliament after winning 7.1 percent of the vote in 2009. There are now 33 Pirate Parties in operation around the world, all part of the Pirate Parties International organization. Will Canada's Pirate Party send anyone to Parliament this year? Of course not. But its concerns are legitimate, and it's not unreasonable to believe that as concerns about copyright in the digital age continue to grow, it will become an increasingly relevant force on the Canadian political scene.