Join the Rhinoceros Party!
July 1 is Canada Day, so here’s a look back on the humorous Canadian political “movement” known as the Rhinoceros Party.
- In 1963, a Quebecois writer named Jacques Ferron founded a new political party intended to satirize Canadian politics from the inside. A real, registered party, Ferron’s Rhinoceros Party satirized other politicians by promising from the get-go that its only real promise was a “promise to keep none of their promises.” That meant that its candidates could make extremely bizarre promises to the electorate and then never have to actually deliver on them.
- The name Rhinoceros Party was chosen as a nod to Cacareco, a rhinoceros who was elected to the city council of Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1958 as a form of political protest. Ferron also cited inspiration from Cornelius the First, a rhino at Quebec’s Granby Zoo. Like Cornelius, Ferron said, rhinos are “slow-moving, dim-witted,” and “have horns growing out of the middle of their faces.”
- The party ran candidates in parliamentary elections from the early ‘70s to the early ‘90s, but its profile peaked with elections in 1979 and 1980. To maximize media attention, the Rhinoceros Party fielded a candidate in the district represented by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
- The party promised in 1979 to replace the Canadian Lottery’s cash prize with spots in the Canadian Senate. It also promised to make Great Britain a Canadian province.
- After the Communist Party of Canada spun off a rival faction called the Marxist-Leninists, the Rhinoceros Party also created a mock faction called the Marxist-Lennonists—referring to Groucho Marx and John Lennon (as opposed to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
- Frequent Rhinoceros candidate Ted “not too” Sharp of Kingston, Ontario once promised to give fauna the same rights as flora. He also announced a plan to tow Antarctica up to Canada so the country could “control all of the world’s cold” and thus win the Cold War.
- The Rhinoceros Party’s energy platform at one point: to construct one nuclear power plant for each and every Canadian household, and to also provide all Canadians with free lead-lined underwear.
- In 1984, a candidate named Stardust the Magician promised to put a roof on Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. All he needed was a taxpayer-funded $25 million handkerchief.
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