We will stop for a moment and explain what a Paper Candidate is. A Paper Candidate is a person placed on a ballot in an electoral riding by the associated political party. There is generally very low support for this party in these ridings; however, it does benefit all Canadian political parties to have a person on each ballot. For each party, there is a monetary subsidy that is given to them for each vote received. In 2011, it is $2.04 per vote.
The value of this is shown below in a breakdown of the riding of Berthier – Maskinonge, located in the Province of Quebec:
Party Number of Votes Monetary Value
New Democrat Party 22 484 $45 867.36
Bloc Quebecois 16 668 $34 002.72
Liberal 8109 $16 542.36
Progressive Conservative 7909 $16 134.36
As you can see there is a considerable amount of money to be given back to the political parties.
Let us go back to our topic of Paper Candidates. This person does not have to campaign, attend debates or even live in the riding that their name is being associated. The reasoning for this is that they are not supposed to win. No harm, no foul and thank you for new monies from the taxpayers.
Now, let me introduce you to a lady by the name of Ruth Ellen Brosseau. She lives in the province of Ontario and is now one of the most famous Paper Candidates in recent Canadian history. Ruth Brosseau actually won when she was not suppose to in the riding of Berthier – Maskinonge, located in the Province of Quebec. Not only did she win, Ruth won by a significant margin as shown above.
As we speak of this result, Ruth is going through significant scrutiny for this accomplishment. During the campaign, she did not step foot in her riding, participate in debates and actually went to Las Vegas for a vacation. After being elected for biography on the NDP websites has been shown to be inaccurate and there have been allegations of false signatures on her application to run in the election.
This is where we need to think for a second. Ruth Brosseau did what her party asked her to do. This was place her name on the ballot and according to the unofficial rules of being a Paper Candidate, walk away and not do anything. She did this as; once again, she was not supposed to win. Little did the NDP realize was the discord in that riding and province with the parties that were previously elected, so it ended up with 58 newly elected first time officials. How many were Paper Candidates? No one knows for sure.
I do know this; we are scrutinizing the wrong person in this case. It was the party who put her there and that also admitted that they edited her biography. It is also their fault to not have the foresight to know that they should have a riding association and a candidate planned in each riding way before any election call is made. It is called being organized and progressive not reactive.
We also need to look at the payment for the amount of votes you receive. That money comes from us and if removed, as promised by the winning party, the use of paper candidates will decrease.
Now, Ruth Brosseau has now visited her riding and met a few of its citizens to a positive result. This is a French speaking community and she plans on polishing her French speaking skills. In other words, Ruth Brosseau plans on doing what the people have elected to her to do. That is meeting and listens with them. From this small little gesture, Ruth Brosseau has shown she already has a bright future in politics and will make a difference. When the people in her riding spoke, she heard them and reacted. This is a lot more than what most “Real” elected officials do.