Giacomo Vezina is running as the candidate for the None of the Above Party in Nipissing, with plans to secure a seat for the relatively new party at Queen’s Park. Overall, the party notes on its website that they have 28 candidates running in the provincial election out of 124 ridings.
Put simply, the party, founded in 2014, aims to elect MPPs who think and vote independently, not strictly bound to the party line, but are free to vote as they see fit. The goal is to better represent an MPPs constituents and focus on the local needs of home as opposed to being obliged to follow the party vote.
Vezina is new to politics but is eager to run. Currently, he works for the City of North Bay, and “representing the city’s citizens and the Nipissing riding at a provincial level as a public servant is a definite goal,” he emphasized.
One of the primary reasons that inspired Vezina to throw his hat in the ring was his “frustration with our current political system.”
See: It's official. Eight candidates running in Nipissing
“I genuinely believe that in a true democracy, the voters should have the final say and not politicians and their special interests,” Vezina explained, noting that voters and citizens “have been lied to by our elected representative for far too long without any accountability or consequences.”
The system that allows for broken promises and misleading campaign rhetoric “needs to change,” he said, and if elected to represent, he would work towards those changes.
The party is officially known as the None of the Above Party, Direct Democracy Party of Ontario, although for brevity’s sake, is commonly referred to as None of the Above Party, or NOTA for those more familiar.
As a relatively new party, Vezina admits “it has its challenges like the majority of smaller parties” in the province. Besides significantly less gold and copper in the war chests, small parties also have a difficult time getting their words out to the people.
“Smaller parties rarely get mentioned if at all during the election,” he noted, adding that larger parties often label smaller parties as “fringe,” which can unfairly misrepresent the party. “Voters should be able to hear from all parties whether big or small.”
He explained that many voters “believe they only have a few options” when it comes to electing a representative, “but the truth is there are dozens of parties.” The problem is often that many voters only hear about these parties “when they are casting their vote,” and see the names on the ballot.
“When smaller parties are mentioned and voters know about them, they tend to get more votes and then are able to get the same campaign subsidies as the major parties,” Vezina explained. “Equality for all parties big or small is fundamental for a working democracy. This has been our major challenge.”
The NOTA party is based “on the fundamentals of Direct Democracy” which allows citizens to vote on issues as they arise, rather than dropping a ballot every four years and being done with it. Essentially, citizen assemblies would help guide the decisions and policies of the NOTA party.
“Switzerland is the closest thing to a Direct Democracy,” Vezina explained. “It’s proven to work and the Swiss people are content because they know that they have the final say” regarding government decisions.
As for getting the party line out to the people, Vezina is “very thankful” to the “multiple news outlets and groups in North Bay that have given me opportunities for debates and coverage.” He has not been able to “attend every debate or interview” due to his new position with the City of North Bay, a role that increased his work load by quite a bit.
“There is nothing I would love more than to attend these debates for my possible constituents,” he explained, but his job does not always allow for the time.
“If Canadians know about our party and our belief in a Direct Democracy and we get ample and equal coverage as the major parties then we would see an influx of votes for our party,” Vezina emphasized.
“We all believe in democracy but why don't we really put it to work?”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.