This year saw an unlikely dark horse enter the feverish American presidential race. That dark horse was Canada. Satirical writers and political junkies Brian Calvert and Chris Cannon launched The Canada Party last January with a viral campaign and recently released their manifesto America, But Better. I talked with them to find out why America needs a Canadian intervention.
Vancouver Weekly: Why did you decide to create The Canada Party?
Chris Cannon: We have televisions up here and have been watching the self made political satire of the Republican primaries during last fall and spring. Brian and I have both done projects together over the last few years ranging from hardcore journalism to sketch comedy and we wanted to do something political. We decided to step up and do some political comedy. So we started with the original campaign video in January and it took off from there.
VW: What does the party stand for?
Brian Calvert: We want to bring rational discourse back to the ever increasing circus like atmosphere of the political situation in the states and we realized that the American people are the ones being shorted in all this. People on either side who have blow horns covering their own agenda. The American people lose faith in the two party system and they need another option, I think that’s where the Canada party can fill this void.
VW: Do you think the American people will be happy to hear this from an outsider?
Brian Calvert: So far we have had a positive response. I mean no one wants to be on the receiving end of an intervention but ultimately you are glad your friends are there for you and we’ve had a really positive response from Americans who are realizing that it’s better to receive an overhaul from an honest mechanic than to be scrapped by china and sold for parts.
VW: But is America ready to accept a third party in the running?
Chris Cannon: I think the American people are. It’s the institutions of the Republican and Democratic parties who don’t want something like that, they don’t want competition and outside voices. But it’s clear from voter turnout that a lot of American people have given up on the current situation and are not voting for who they think will be the best leader but the lesser of two evils. A lot of people down there, from talking to them, feel like both parties are one in the same and that there’s not really a big variation. They realize something dramatic has to be done and we would like to bring a little humour into it.
BC: I think Americans are seeing this polarization of the discourse. Everything is in binary terms, left and right, patriot and terrorist, one and zero. So we actually have a chapter in the book titled the Cameron plan where we propose that James Cameron be our director of time and space and will bring a much needed third dimension to political discourse.
VW: Can you tell me some of the main ideas in your Manifesto?
CC: Well we have a huge platform; the whole book is a platform. It’s chocked full of ideas, everything from combining the Canadian and American language to create a super language that wears a cape and shoots lasers out of its punctuation to how to say you are sorry without looking like a total pussy. We cover abortion, immigration, the death penalty, environmental issues, education, it’s all in the book.
VW: I read that one of your proposals is to combine Vancouver and San Francisco. It sounds like a hippy utopia!
BC: Yes we have a chapter on combining our cities. Dallas and Calgary will become Dalgary with giant museums of denim and comparable populations of frightened homosexuals. We have New York and Toronto combined to be New Toronto where they will show a mix of the best musicals of both cities like Cats of Green Gables . It’s all to bring our cultures together, like the sister city setup but much more integrated.
VW: How do you plan to deal with birthers, who may take issue with Canada’s non-American citizenship?
BC: We will show them some photos and stage some re-enactments of the war of 1812. Take that! Modern Canada believes in the right to same continent partners so we are legally obligated to consider ourselves American citizens by proxy. There are also legal precedents if you go back the first seven presidents were not born in the United States of America because it didn’t exist when they were born so there’s a grey area there.
CC: We also share the same mom and to be fair the United States were not born in the United States either. We both share the same parentage so if the US can run for president, we can run for president.
VW: We saw the Republican Party harnessing the star power of Clint Eastwood talking to a chair. Which Canadian celeb would you like to see endorsing the Canada party?
BC: Chairs are celebrities in Canada. Maybe a nicer chair, with wheels, cup holders to hold your cold Molson and a tray for your poutine that’s good for watching the game.
VW: How did you get into writing satire?
CC: We have both been writing comedy for years. I came from a more journalistic background and Brian is from a stand up comedy background. I teach at the UBC School of Journalism, including a seminar on satire, and Brian is a very talented comedy writer and actor. So we did a few short films together last year and realized we both have an interest in satire and parody and mockumentaries. We wanted to do more original work in that direction. So when the campaign started kicking off so early we realized it was something we wanted to get into. There’s a lot of meat to chew on there and low hanging fruit. We are really working away at the food pyramid of comedy!
VW: You are still on the campaign trail at the moment. What will be your final push to victory?
BC: Even though we requested access and inclusion into the debate we were left out. So we live tweet from our twitter handle @theCanadaParty to make sure our voice is adequately heard during all the debates so that people can really find out where we stand. For the final big push we are also going to be down in Seattle, we are going to be kissing hands and shaking babies.
So there you have it, possibly the next leader of United States of America is their gentle northern neighbour Canada. Stranger things have happened so far in this campaign season!