Frequent Readers of this blog are aware of my general distaste for the triumph of party politics over the common good. That being said, I recently had the honour of speaking with the Independent candidate for Calgary West, Mr. Kirk Schmidt.
Some people are going to love what Kirk stands for. Some people are not going to like his policies. That's politics. I'd encourage everyone to go and take a look, though: His website is here.
The Independent candidate has several disadvantages right out of the gate. Firstly, fundraising is MUCH more difficult. No funds means no signs. No commercials. No newspaper ads. Et cetera. The second big disadvantage can be countered, SOMEWHAT, by Blogs like this one: Indie candidates don't get the press attention that the mainstream candidates do. They also, as a general rule, don't make it into debates - those spots are saved for candidates from the "Big 3" parties. Now, the blogosphere and other alternative media can counter this effect somewhat, but the reality is that in order to win in a riding like Calgary West, a candidate would need to get in the ballpark of 30,000 votes or more. I have serious doubts that this blog has even had that many hits since its inception in December - so, although blogs can cast light on a candidate, he or she needs to get their name and policy in the consciousness of the general public to have a shot at the polling booth, and blogs by themselves can't do it.
For this reason, a well thought-out media strategy is crucial. I'm not privy to the Schmidt Inner Circle, and as such don't know what Kirk's strategy will be in getting (free) media time, but I DO know that if he can get himself in the public eye, Kirk's vision for what a Member of Parliament SHOULD be will appeal to a lot of voters, whether or not they're inclined to support his policies.
If more people showed the courage that Kirk Schmidt has, in putting his name into the ring and taking his chances against some well-oiled political machines, I think our electoral system would be in much better shape.