Thursday, October 9, 2008

Meet the Other Candidates Pt. 2

Last week, I talked to Communist Party of Canada candidate Drew Garvie, but there is another far-left candidate in this campaign: Marxist-Leninist nominee Manuel Couto. Couto has run in the last four Federal elections in Guelph, including the present race. And that’s just about all the info I’ve been able to find for Mr. Couto. His contact information is notably absent from the CBC and the Globe and Mail candidates’ pages and a request to the MLPC’s media department for contact info went unanswered.

The party itself has a strongly worded platform which follows three key tenants. First is the need to invest more money in social programs and “Stop paying the rich,” which includes nationalizing all banks and financial institutions amongst its plans. The second point is to reform Canada’s electoral system with an emphasis on equality, the hereditary rights of Aboriginal periods and respecting Quebec’s right to self-determination, up to and including the right of secession. Finally, the MLPC intend to “modernize” our foreign policy, meaning a withdrawal from NAFTA and other free trade agreements, a withdrawal from NATO and NORAD, and to demand the democratization of the UN.

Kornelis Klevering meanwhile says that issues surrounding the use of marijuana are on the minds of many of the people he talks to, and being the Marijuana Party candidate he’s focused on bringing those issues to the forefront. “Every time there’s a federal election, or a by-election, someone has to come out and remind everyone that this is an unacceptable situation in a free and democratic society,” says Klevering, who also likes to be called Brother Kase, referring to the continued criminalization of cannabis.

Klevering says that his party’s goal is the complete end to “the prohibition against marijuana,” although past proclamations of decriminalization from the Liberals and the NDP is a step in the right direction, he adds. But Klevering says it’s more than simply the right to smoke, but the stigmata against the plant extends to the potential benefits of hemp-based products. “You mention marijuana and all of the sudden, everything else is tainted,” Klevering explains. “So hemp for bio-mass, or hemp seed oil as a health product, all that doesn’t stand a chance because there’s a stigma against marijuana. People are talking about a Green Shift, well we want a Green Shift too and that includes hemp.”

Rounding out the local roster is John Turmel, an independent candidate running in his 67th election. It’s been a slow year for Turmel as compared to 2007 where he ran in three races: a Provincial by-election in Burlington, a Federal by-election in Outremont and the Provincial election in Brant last October. His impressive number of elections fought and lost has earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Turmel has also adopted several epitaphs over the years; he’s referred to himself as The Engineer, The Gambler, The Banking System Engineer, Bank Fighter Extraordinaire, TajProfessor, and Great Canadian Gambler.

Turmel is an advocate for "Local Employment Trading Systems" (LETS), which Wikipedia describes as "interest-free barter arrangements." Under this system, money is eliminated, and people can use the "Time Standard of Money" to work off their loans or just about any other type of debt you can think of. Turmel was a candidate in the by-election, but decided to stick with Guelph telling the Brantford Expositor, "It's so undemocratic in Brantford […] I may probably go where I have a chance to participate." This comment was in reference to a debate sponsored by Rogers Television in Brant last fall, where he was removed by police after demanding to be allowed to speak.

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