Freedom Flyer Fall 2000 Cover

Freedom Flyer 34

the official newsletter of the
Freedom Party of Ontario

Fall 2000



By Freedom Party Leader Lloyd Walker

Fp Leader Lloyd Walker
Fp Leader Lloyd Walker

(Lloyd Walker is leader of Freedom Party.)

Many would stand in the way of Freedom Party's success.

Obviously, there are the NDP, PC, Liberal, Green, Family Coalition, etc. --- all the political parties who have views or policies contrary to ours. But when it comes to the big picture, they are actually the least of our problems. Ask any of our candidates what their biggest roadblock to election success was, and their opposing candidate would be far down the list. So who or what are the real obstacles to Freedom Party's growth?


While there are exceptions, the traditional media (radio, television, newspaper dailies) are a major obstacle to Freedom Party. Exceptions will be found generally in small or rural locations where some reporters take the time to focus on an election story in their area and are willing to do the work necessary to make their coverage complete. That simply doesn't happen in major markets and larger cities.

The major media either ignores Freedom Party or trivializes and stigmatizes us. For example, during Election'99 we sent the London Free Press Freedom Party's complete list of candidates in the area along with copies of our platform. In the paper's coverage of London-Fanshawe, the reporter not only ignored Freedom Party's presence, but merrily reported that there were only three candidates running in the riding. When the error was brought to her attention, she defended the omission by claiming it was "accurate to the best of my knowledge" when she wrote it. No correction ever appeared.

In an election where health care and education were the major issues, the Free Press reporter who later covered Freedom Party's platform picked the two most controversial issues she could find amongst the 70+ issues outlined. Yes, to her, the two most important issues in Fp's platform were abortion and drug laws!

And did you know that Freedom Party supports abolishing fines for polluters? I certainly didn't until I read about it in the London Free Press. Our printed platform on pollution explicitly states that Freedom Party "would (1) Protect private property rights to enable property owners to take legal action against anyone who pollutes their property or its environment, (2) ensure that the responsibility for the clean up of pollution rests upon polluters, (3) Protect free markets to allow for the creation of wealth and technology which can be employed to reduce pollution." This was somehow interpreted by the reporter as "abolishing fines for polluters". (The paper later printed a retraction stating that Freedom Party doesn't favour abolishing fines for polluters, but offered no further detail.)

But it isn't just one incompetent (or hostile?) local media that is the problem. Look at the CBC and the leadership debate. Apparently, "complete coverage" includes only the three old parties. CBC Newsworld aired a single half hour episode of Counterpoint in which four of the newer parties --- Freedom, Libertarian, Communist and Marxist-Leninist --- had to make their platforms clear and distinguish themselves. The half hour hardly let anyone scratch the surface.

Freedom Party's candidates were neither invited nor permitted to participate on Gord Harris' Hot Talk program on London's Radio'98 (CFPL). His three two-hour riding debates (one for each of London's three ridings, totaling six hours) featured only candidates from the three old parties, and we were told that the smaller parties were not welcome because they "dominate the debate." The station instead put all of the candidates from the newer parties on one two-hour show (two hours shared by five parties with their candidates from all three ridings). Though alternate parties were offered air time, the show's format did not allow them to contrast their ideas with those of the old three.

The message from the media is clear: New parties are a pain. They may have to be tolerated but they certainly don't have to be given anything close to "equal time" or informative coverage that voters deserve. By ignoring them or giving minute coverage or exploring only the controversial, the media implicitly tells voters that these parties are not deserving of their support. And people listen.


Many organizers simply didn't take the time or expend any effort to locate any of the new parties. This is not surprising, since most debates are sponsored by groups with vested interests and they make almost no attempt to bring in anyone who opposes their agenda. While in most cases all it took was a phone call to get our "invitation" to a debate, Fp candidates were disadvantaged since all of this last minute scheduling cuts into preparation time for debates. For example, in one debate in London, major candidates were sent the questions that would be asked in advance. I saw the questions for the first time when I entered the hall for the debate.

As to leadership debates, there was only the one mentioned earlier on CBC Newsworld for leaders of newer parties. Again, the show focused only on specific groups featuring Freedom Party, Libertarians and the leaders of the Communist and Marxist-Leninist parties in an attempt to place direct opposites in the debate. Sadly, there was little opportunity for us to place ourselves in contrast to the old parties or to the omitted parties (Green, FCP, Natural Law).


My wife Trudy and I walked our dog Dempsey over to the polling station on election day. Since Dempsey can't vote, we took turns voting while the other stayed outside with him. While waiting, I overheard a conversation between a couple as they left the polling station.

She: "I didn't recognize a single name on the ballot."

He: "Me either."

But they obviously had voted and seemed to feel good about doing so. Given media coverage, I can understand why they may not have known about candidates of the newer parties, but the media certainly made plenty of information available about the old ones. In addition, there were signs and literature in the neighbourhood for Fp as well as the old three. As Fp's candidate in the riding, I know that my wife and I covered the entire polling area with Fp literature. I can only assume the couple I overheard were uninformed because they chose to be that way.


Everyone knows the problem: with more than two parties under this system of elections, the party with the largest minority wins 100% of the power even if it gets far less than 50% of the popular vote. We all saw the other parties' attempts to get around it. They called it "strategic voting".

So how does first-past-the-post affect Freedom Party? Believe it or not, we lose "our" votes to the PCs. The same fear that brought "strategic voting" to the left is in play on the right. Supporters who are concerned that a Liberal or NDP candidate may just beat out the local PC end up abandoning Fp and voting PC. Not only was this evident at the polls, but many of our own members and supporters told us that this is exactly what they were going to do. The other impact of the first-past-the-post system is that when we all "know" that a Fp candidate will not win, or so the logic goes, you're only "throwing your vote away" when you vote Fp. Instead, even if they may personally prefer a party like Freedom Party, voters end up sending the message that they support an old party platform (when in truth they only support a few points in that platform or they're just afraid of the ones with a really bad platform getting elected.)

Freedom Party has long supported a change to the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) (See Consent #21). This system of proportional representation gives the voter the most choice and as a result gives each person's vote the most power. The current Westminster System (a.k.a. first-past-the-post) was fine for a two party system. Anyone winning had to have majority support. It stopped working well when a third party appeared, and its ability to reflect the "will of the people" has gone downhill ever since.

Even our electoral process sends a message to voters: "Don't vote for anyone who can't win. Don't waste your vote on one of the newer parties." And the people listen.


Because we don't have fixed election periods, smaller parties who don't have the financial resources of the entrenched ones (who also get taxpayer funding!) continually have to balance their priorities and budgets and reschedule or cancel non-election events and campaigns. Do we take money required for project X and use it to prepare for a possible election call? Will candidates come forward in time when they don't even know when the election will be? (Many potential candidates are hamstrung by not knowing the campaign period dates; Some can run in the fall but not in the spring or vice versa.) Who do you commit to when you don't know the time of the election either?

Is it any surprise that Freedom Party isn't alone in supporting fixed election dates?


Thanks to Harris' so-called 'election reforms', Election'99 was the shortest election period in Ontario history(and with the largest ridings ever). Combined with the ability of the party in power to call an election when it chooses to do so, candidates who are not completely prepared when the election writ is dropped (i.e., with signs, literature, and volunteers ready to go), will simply not have an effective presence in their respective ridings.


Without electoral reform that creates a structure recognizing the existence of more than two parties, voters who do not vote for the winner (the majority) will never be represented in the legislature. Officially, we are trying to work with other groups to change the electoral system. CAPRO (Coalition to Adopt Proportional Representation in Ontario) and other organizations favour a change to Proportional Representation, which is supported in Ontario by every political party except the COR, PC and Liberal parties. But there's always hope on that front. Most also favour fixed election dates so there are two electoral issues that we are working on at the current time.


So what does Freedom Party need? In elections we need volunteers, money and candidates. I'm not going to dwell on money. I'm confident that our supporters will do what they can to help us out. The best way to substantially increase our funding is not through getting each member/supporter to give more, but to get more people as members and supporters, each giving a little (or a lot!).

Whether in an electoral reform campaign or during an election campaign, the media will always remain a problem until we can raise the necessary resources to make their job easy. If we can present them with information that is ready for them to use we'll get more coverage. The quality of that coverage may still be suspect but that will only improve when supporters of the candidate start taking the media to task about the accuracy of coverage. The more people who approach them the more credibility they will have to give to the complaints.

Most importantly, we always need candidates. I know that it's difficult for some of you to come forward when the timing is not known, but if you are interested in running for Freedom Party, the time to step forward is not on the day the election is called. It is today! Maybe you won't be able to run when the time comes but what you have learned in the interim will certainly prepare you to help someone else run. Your ideas and input into Fp policy and platforms are welcomed and you may help bring a new issue to light or open our eyes to new approaches on old issues.

Volunteers are needed greatly in an election. Not everyone wants to run, but by volunteering to help there is a great opportunity to be part of the process and learn a great deal about politics, Freedom Party, and what is going on in your own community. Not only that, you will meet and work with people who think the way you do.


We can't change people who do not want to change themselves, nor should we try. The couple I overhead at the polling station will not benefit by anything we do. Our website makes Fp literature free to anyone with access to a personal computer, or anyone can ask for our platform and receive it free of charge. We can only continue to make those who choose to be informed better informed. Consent and Freedom Flyer will continue to add our legacy of information about freedom and Freedom Party. We are always open to speaking to local groups, school groups, and to media interviews. Party president Robert Metz will continue to appear on a weekly radio talk show in London: Left, Right and Center. We can all help by phoning into radio talk shows, writing letters to the editor and just talking freedom to those around us.

What is the reality of the election process for Freedom Party? Even without needed election reform, each election nevertheless presents us with a forum and opportunity to have our ideas distributed to the public. Our main avenues of communication are: distribution of elections literature, candidate debates, leaders debates, knocking on doors and, most importantly, the media coverage generated by any or all of the above.

Only one group can do anything to meet these challenges.

The solutions all lie with ourselves.

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