Canadians vow to join political parties after U.S. election result
A sign is held above the crowd at a pre-election gathering in London, Ont., on Saturday, April 30, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)
Published Thursday, November 10, 2016 7:45PM EST
A U.S. presidential election that featured two particularly unpopular candidates and the surprise victory of Donald Trump has got some Canadians re-evaluating their own political participation.
Compared to the days leading up the election, interest in the search term “join political party” spiked on election night and has climbed even higher since, according to data from Google Trends.
Meanwhile, a number of Canadian Twitter users have stated they’re planning to join political parties to prevent a candidate like Trump from becoming prime minister.
Several have singled out Dr. Kellie Leitch, who said during Wednesday’s Conservative leadership debate that she and Trump have “a few things in common,” including their approach to screening immigrants.
Jane Hilderman, Executive Director of democracy-promoting group Samara, says the U.S. election was a reminder to Canadians that politics impacts their lives.
“Sometimes we take our democracy and our politics for granted,” she says. “The U.S. election, in part how close the race was, said to people your involvement matters (and) joining a party is one way to get more involved.”
Donald Trump won some states by only a tiny margin. For example, in Michigan he got 47.6 per cent of the vote versus Hillary Clinton’s 47.3 per cent and Clinton won the popular vote nationally.
Hilderman said she’s encouraged to hear that more Canadians might be willing to join parties. Membership has declined dramatically in recent decades. Although no clear numbers exist, estimates are that as few as 1 in 600 Canadians are members.
That’s despite it being easier than ever to join. Canadians need only click on a party’s website, fill out a form to share their address, contact information and demographic details, and in some cases pay a fee. The fee to join ranges from free for those joining the Liberal Party to $25 for those joining the New Democrats in Ontario or Nova Scotia. The Conservatives charge $15.
The benefit, Hilderman says, is an opportunity to shape the party’s policies at annual conventions and to choose who makes it on the ballot to compete both locally and for the prime minister’s chair.
While Canadians are not always pleased with the options on the ballot on election day, Hilderman says “the beautiful thing in a democracy … is if you aren’t happy with your options, you can help shape them.”
It’s a particularly good time to influence the parties. The Conservatives are choosing a successor to Stephen Harper on May 27. The NDP will choose Tom Mulcair’s replacement no later than Oct. 29.
BTW: Anyone who knows my politics in the past pretty much knows that me shifting to the right firmly puts me in the #NDP camp.— Joe Bowser (@infil00p) November 9, 2016
For the first time in my life I'm going to join a political party just to vote against "Kellie Leitch"— 4thofFive (@4thof_five) November 9, 2016
.@KellieLeitch your endorsement of Trump's values is appalling. I'm joining the CPC simply to vote against your leadership.— Burke Libbey (@burkelibbey) November 10, 2016
We have our own battles. Considering joining the Conservatives. https://t.co/2r4u2KaL4v— jer rum (@jeremyrumbolt) November 9, 2016