The Canadian Political Spectrum
The Canada eZine - Politics

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Political Parties of Canada


Following the results of May 2nd's general federal election we have created this breakdown of Canada's political spectrum and organized it in a way so its easy to navigate. We have done this in the past for previous elections. You can click on the names of political parties below in the spectrum to navigate faster to the one you want to see.

The numbers below the names of each party indicates the number of seats they won in parliament. Below that is the % of Canadians who voted for them on May 2nd 2011. Voter turnout was 61.4%.


2011 Canadian Federal Election Map

The Conservative Party of Canada

Led by Stephen Harper, this right-wing party is the current government as of winning the May 2nd 2011 general election. For the previous 5 years the Conservatives have stagnated in a minority government and were unwilling to make compromises with other political parties. Now that they have a majority government they can force through legislation without any need to consult the other parties.


When the Progressive Conservative Party collapsed following the introduction of the GST, the retirement of Brian Mulroney and the installation of Kim Campbell those changes went over really badly in Western Canada. It led people like Preston Manning to create "The Reform Party" which was an idealogical right-wing party with heavy Christian overtones. The party was popular in Alberta and managed to win 52 seats in 1993, mostly in Western provinces. The problem was that the Reform Party was too idealogical right-wing for the majority of Canadians. They wanted to scrap gun control laws, make abortion illegal, increase military funding, privatize healthcare, cut educational funding and encourage more private schools (ie. Christian schools) and so forth. Their proposed changes scared many Canadians and they were simply unelectable. Since 1993 the Reform Party has changed its name several times, becoming the Canadian Alliance Party (led by Stockwell Day) and later the new Conservative Party (led by Stephen Harper), which gobbled up the remnants of the old Progressive Conservative Party. Having endured several name changes in 2011 they've finally managed to gain a majority government, which will allow the Reform-Alliance-Conservatives to push through their more controversial ideas.


  • Crime & Prisons: The Conservatives want to build more prisons, despite the fact crime is down in Canada. They've even discussed building a penal colony in Northern Canada and sending all the murderers and rapists there permanently. They've also discussed bringing back the Death Penalty and lethal injections.
  • Economy: The Conservatives want to boost Canada's oil industry in Alberta.
  • Education: The Conservatives want to deregulate and reform Canada's educational system by giving individual provinces more control and opening the doors to more private schools by introducing tax credits for private schooling.
  • Environment: The Conservatives believe climate change is a hoax and they refuse to spend anything more than lip service on the environment.
  • Gun Control: The Conservatives want to scrap the Long Gun Registry and all other forms of gun control in Canada. They believe Canadians should follow the American example and that everyone should own guns.
  • Health Care: The Conservatives want to allow more private health care and create a two-tier system of health care in Canada. They also want to regulate Canada's healthcare so provinces will be given more control, more responsibility and less funding from Ottawa. This means poorer provinces will have significantly worse health care and provinces with large populations (like Ontario) will find themselves stretched with longer wait times.
  • Military Spending & War: The Conservatives want to buy an arsenal of new weapons, including $30 billion for new F-35 fighter planes, more submarines and Canada will be sending more troops to wars overseas. The Conservatives want to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

    Bloc Québécois

    The BQ is a Quebec separatist party which wants to turn Quebec into its own country and control its own affairs, operating on a centrist platform. Its known for its somewhat racist views against minority groups (Jacques Parizeau blamed the failed 1995 Referendum on immigrants and natives) and its disgust for anything which is not French, not Catholic and not Quebec. See The Roots of Quebec Separatism.


    Founded in 1991, the BQ managed to grab the spotlight in 1993 when it became the official opposition party, which led to the 1995 Referendum on Quebec Sovereignty. The majority of Quebecers voted Non to separatism and since then the popularity of the BQ has fallen. In 2011 they only gained 4 seats in parliament and lost official party status. Pundits are now predicting the BQ will be relegated to the history books.


    All the BQ wants to do is separate from the rest of Canada. They also want to deter non-French immigrants from coming to Quebec.

    The Green Party of Canada

    The Green Party is a more environmentally friendly version of the Conservative Party. In theory they're more like the old Progressive Conservative Party than any other. They have been mistakenly been placed on the far left by pundits, but in truth they're right-centrist with the exception of environmental issues. The jist of their platform is to maintain Canada's status quo, but to spend more on environmental issues in an effort to make Canada a greener country.


    The Green Party has polled as high as 10% in previous elections, but voters wise has never gotten over 6.78% of the popular vote (2008). They've only had 2 MPs ever, 1 who defected after 2008 after being thrown out of his party, and Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader who finally managed to win her own seat in May 2011. They've never even been elected in a province and lack experience. The Green Party has never even gained "official party status" by getting 12 seats in parliament. Its doubtful they will any time soon.


    Really the only significant item on the Greens platform is lots of environmental spending.

    The Liberal Party of Canada

    The Liberal Party is one of the oldest parties in Canada. So old they've become traditional and stuffy. They used to be a left-wing party but have over time become more and more centrist in their values. They've become too moderate and too status quo in recent years, the result of efforts of trying to please the moderate-centrist voters. Sadly not many moderate voters voted in the May 2011 election and they've been reduced to a mere 34 seats. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has resigned and its expected his replacement (currently touted to be Bob Rae) may decide to try a merger with the NDP.


    The Liberals have been a constant in Canadian politics up til now. During the 1990s and early 2000s the Liberals were led by Jean Chretien, Canada's most popular prime minister ever. During that golden time the Liberals worked towards paying off the national debt, had a strong and stable economy, and was making slow progress on health care and environmental issues.


    Maintain the status quo, with the exception of maintaining a strong economy, improving health care and small increments of environmental spending.

    The New Democratic Party of Canada

    The NDP is led by Jack Layton (update: Jack Layton died on August 22nd 2011) and his popularity is growing. Some people even call it "Layton-mania", a reference to the old Trudeau-mania. Popular with women voters, young people and anyone who is leftwing, the NDP has finally managed to get out from behind the Liberal shadow and has now grabbed the official opposition with 102 MPs in parliament. There is even talk of a merger with the old Liberal Party which has become a dinosaur on the verge of extinction.

    Update: With the death of Jack Layton the leadership of the NDP is currently unclear. We will be updating this page after a period of mourning and a NDP leadership convention.


    Founded in 1961 and led by then Tommy Douglas, the NDP is the reason Canadians still have free health care in Canada. The NDP was popular during the 1960s and 1970s, but faded in the late 80s and 90s during a time when the Liberals were very popular. Under the leadership of Jack Layton since 2003 the NDP has since seen a resurgence in popularity and is now the official opposition.


  • Crime & Prisons: The NDP wants to clamp down on crime by increasing educational funding and boost the economy. If people aren't desperate for money there will be no need to commit unnecessary crimes. Canada's low crime is already largely due to its stable economy and good education system, the NDP just want to make it better.
  • Economy: The NDP wants to encourage entrepreneurs, new companies, green companies. The Alberta oil industry will be encouraged to become greener and cleaner in an effort to fix past mistakes.
  • Education: The Conservatives want to improve Canada's educational system by decreasing the amount of university debt students get after graduating. That debt load is hampering the ability of students to go to university / college, and afterwards is hampering their economic potential.
  • Environment: The NDP want to combat climate change and global warming by raising gasoline efficiency standards in cars, get rid of coal-based electricity plants and create a system whereby provinces can share excess electricity easier.
  • Gun Control: The NDP wants to enforce gun control and increase police surveillance on gun smugglers in an effort to keep smuggled guns off Canadian streets. The Long Gun Registry needs to be kept because it helps police to track who owns specific guns and saves lives when officers know that a criminal owns guns in their home.
  • Health Care: The NDP wants to train more doctors, more specialists, increase funding to health care and research initiatives and reduce wait times.
  • Military Spending & War: The NDP wants to involve Canada in more peacekeeping operations and only involve Canada in wars which are necessary for the safety of Canada and its allies.

    Minor Political Parties of Canada

  • Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada (founded in 2005) - Basically like the Green Party, but they also want to force everyone to become vegans and stop wearing fur.
  • Canadian Action Party (founded in 1997) - It promotes Canadian nationalism, monetary reform, and electoral reform and opposes neoliberal globalization and free trade agreements.
  • Christian Heritage Party of Canada (founded in 1987) - A Christian Conservative Party which wants to get rid of non Christians.
  • Communist Party of Canada (founded in 1921) - Self explanatory.
  • Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (founded in 1970) - Same as above but more focused on Marxist-Leninist ideas.
  • First Peoples National Party of Canada (founded in 2005) - Wants more Aboriginal rights.
  • Libertarian Party of Canada (founded in 1975) - Self explanatory.
  • Marijuana Party of Canada (founded in 2000) - Self explanatory.
  • Rhinoceros Party (founded in 2006) - Satirical party originally founded in 1963.
  • Pirate Party of Canada (founded 2009) - The PPCA is modelled after the Swedish Pirate Party and advocates copyright reform, privacy, Network neutrality and open government.
  • Progressive Canadian Party (founded in 2004) - Basically a rehash of the old Progressive Conservative Party.
  • United Party of Canada - A centrist moderate party, very similar to the Liberals.
  • Western Block Party (founded 2005) - A Western separatist which wants Western Canada to become its own country.

    See Also:

    Is Multiculturalism in Canada dead?

    Canada's Business Age

    Standing up for Public Education in Ontario

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