$137 gets you None of the Above

Ontario byelection candidate Sheldon Bergson legally changed his name to ensure that voters could choose none of the above

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Michael TaubeHave you ever gone to vote in an election, looked at the list of candidates, and said to yourself, “Man, I’d rather support none of the above.”

Well, guess what? Some voters will actually have this opportunity. Sort of.

On Feb. 11, a provincial byelection will be held in the Ontario riding of Whitby-Oshawa. The candidates are Lorne Coe (Progressive Conservative), Elizabeth Roy (Liberal), Niki Lundquist (NDP), and an independent named Above Znoneofthe.

No, this isn’t a joke.

A fringe candidate, Sheldon Bergson paid $137 to legally change his name to ensure that voters could choose none of the above. He told CTV News on Jan. 31: “I think Australia does that and some other places do, and I thought, ‘How will we get it here in Canada?’ And then it occurred to me that you can change your name to None Of The Above.”

The letter “z” was added to his new nom de plume to ensure he would be the last candidate on the ballot. Because a provincial election always lists your first name, followed by your last name, he had to make a small adjustment. When people in this riding go to vote, he’ll be listed on top of the ballot as “Above, Znoneofthe.”

The reaction to his candidacy hasn’t been above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. One resident sagely told CTV, “It’s probably a gimmick.”

No, you think? What gave it away?

Unless hell freezes over, there’s no way the next MPP for Whitby-Oshawa will be a gimmick candidate. At the same time, Above Znoneofthe has challenged Canada’s electoral process in a way that is, surprisingly, rather intelligent.

People often think of Monty Python’s famous 1970 sketch about the strangely named candidates running in a UK general election. This includes the triumphant Silly Party’s Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel, Jethro Q. Walrustitty and a Very Silly candidate with far too many names, bells, whistles and songs to be listed in a short op-ed column!

It doesn’t stop there. Fringe parties and real candidates have done the same thing, too.

The UK’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party, founded by the late Screaming Lord Sutch, has had candidates with nicknames like Howling Laud, The Flying Brick and Mad Cow-Girl. The party has done respectably in a few byelections, won seats in local councils, and had two councillors become mayors.

Other frivolous political parties include the Polish Beer-Lovers’ Party (which won 16 seats in the 1991 parliamentary elections), Iceland’s Best Party (which won the 2010 municipal election, enabling its leader, Jón Gnarr, to become Mayor of Reykajvik), Denmark’s Union of Conscientiously Work-Shy Elements (Jacob Haugaard, the party leader, unexpectedly won a parliamentary seat in 1994), Australia’s Party! Party! Party!, Sweden’s Donald Duck Party and perennial U.S. fringe candidate Jimmy McMillan’s Rent Is Too Damn High Party.

Canada hasn’t been immune from this, either. In the 1980 federal election, Rhinoceros Party candidate Sonia Chatouille Coté finished second in the Laurier riding to Liberal MP David Berger.

Indeed, most of us would have preferred that voters had picked real candidates, from real political parties, with real policy positions. But like it or not, it’s a voter’s right to make these foolish decisions in a free and democratic society.

Hence, if voters have the freedom to cast their ballots for these ridiculous fringe parties, a democracy like Canada shouldn’t restrict them from choosing none of the above. All it took was a fringe candidate, who went the extreme route of changing his name to Above Znoneofthe, to make this simple, straightforward and surprisingly effective point.

Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.

© Troy Media


None of the Above

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One Response to "$137 gets you None of the Above"

  1. Dana Wilson   February 2, 2016 at 7:01 am

    So Kathleen Wynne is no longer the only joke in Ontario

    Reply

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