Canada Party hopes to solve America
They launched their 2012 U.S. presidential campaign before the Republican party had named its nominee, and now the Canada Party is champing at the bit to do it all again in 2016.
Chris Cannon and Brian Calvert may not have thrown a wrench in Barack Obama's bid for re-election, but they secured themselves a loyal online following when they released a video touting Canada's virtues as a prospective tenant of the White House.
Since then, their wry blend of barbed satire and political commentary has made its way onto television networks on both sides of the border and even local book shelves.
It was a surprising turn of events for Cannon and Calvert, Vancouver-based friends who saw themselves collaborating on a web series rather than refining the details of the country's "canadacy" for the U.S. top job.
But Cannon, a former U.S. marine and present-day freelance journalist who writes under a nom de plume, says the months of hurling political barbs have only heightened the pair's commitment to the political game.
"This whole campaign has basically been the pre-season," Cannon said in a telephone interview. "We feel like the next four years is going to be regular season, and then playoffs in 2016.
The video that first garnered widespread attention features the bearded Calvert extolling the virtues of Canada before a crackling fire and a photograph of the Queen.
Calvert's monolog is laced with digs at the U.S. political climate, but doesn't spare any sacred cows from his homeland either.
At one point in the video, a list of leading Canadian indicators scrolls up the screen.
It says Canada leads the U.S. in crime prevention, the employment rate, Bigfoot sightings and bear attacks, among other things.
"And that's just what our hippies have accomplished,'' he intones. "Wait 'til you see our redneck cred.''
It wasn't long before the video had gone viral, resulting in a slew of interview requests for the brains behind the operation. Calvert and Cannon found themselves appearing on networks ranging from CNN and the BBC to Canada's Sun TV.
Reaction to the video was largely positive, Calvert said, adding it brought about an unexpected serge of patriotism from Canadian viewers.
"Even though it's in a very Canadian, helpful tone, Canadians really rallied behind that to say, 'yeah, we really are better than America!' when that wasn't it at all," Calvert said. "We were really pointing out our own shortcomings, as much in our minds, as we were America's."
As the presidential campaign swung into high gear in the U.S., Cannon and Calvert realized the public had an appetite for their brand of take-no-prisoners satire. The men joined forces once again, this time to produce a book outlining their vision in more detail.
"America, but Better: the Canada Party Manifesto" outlines the fictitious party's views on everything from education to the obesity epidemic, scouring targets to left and right, north and south.
Cannon readily concedes the pair espouse left-wing views, but maintains their personal opinions aren't what motivate their attacks on prominent figures of the American right.
"We chase the hypocrisy, we see the absurdity in American politics, and it's not our fault that some people are a lot more absurd than others," he said.
"Every once in a while we'll get a comment on our facebook site or something saying, 'why don't you pick on the left as much?' You can only make fun of the democrats' inefficiency so much before you realize that Newt Gingrich has become the spokesman for the sanctity of marriage."
The election fracas may have subsided in Washington, but the Canada Party is just gearing up for more action.
Cannon and Calvert have already announced their intention to run in the 2016 election, extending an invitation to fellow satirist Stephen Colbert to join the ticket as a vice-presidential running mate.
Even in these early days, the party has offered a glimpse of what their platform will offer.
"We stand by the promises we've made in this campaign, such as allowing one gay couple to marry for every straight couple that gets divorced, allowing one abortion for every inmate on death row, and inventing a vehicle that runs on maple syrup so pipeline spills will just make for tastier animals," Calvert says on one recent video.
Until then, the Canada Party is offering assurances to U.S. voters:
"Stick with us, America, because we're still your continental BFF, and we're going to stick with you. And if you don't elect us in 2016, we're going to pat ourselves on the back for trying, then build a giant wall with wheels on it so we can roll it north as global warming approaches."
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