Still one more race
BROCKVILLE — A new name may soon be on the ballot for the neighbouring byelection – the same name that has been on ballots for 96 previous elections in various parts of the country, at different levels of government.
John Turmel, who holds the world record for most elections contested (and lost), was walking King Street West Thursday afternoon hoping to gather the 100 signatures he needed to get on the ballot for the Dec. 3 Leeds- Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes byelection.
If he gets on, it will be his 97th election.
His first was in 1979, the federal contest that brought Joe Clark, briefly at least, to power.
“I ran as an independent to legalize gambling, prostitution and pot,” he said, repeating the timeworn quip that he was called “the champion of the gamblers, hookers and dope smokers.”
In the nearly four decades to follow, he developed something of a shtick: Fast-talking, ready with the lines, supremely self-assured with a dose of irony.
According to the Guinness World Records website, Turmel holds the record for most elections contested.
All of them resulted in defeat, although the Guinness site notes: “His one non-loss occurred when the Guelph byelection was preempted by a federal election in 2008.”
An electrical engineering graduate, Turmel runs with his trademark “Turmel The Engineer” white construction helmet and says he made his fortune as a professional gambler.
Perhaps obviating the need for what politicos call “oppo research,” Turmel’s own campaign sheet notes he “was convicted half a dozen times for being Keeper of a Gaming House.”
Running afoul of the law for gambling was, in his earlier days, all part of his activism to legalize gambling.
His epic record of electoral failures includes a 1993 run for prime minister as leader of the Abolitionist Party.
As of late Thursday, Elections Canada had only three confirmed candidates on the Dec. 3 ballot: Conservative Michael Barrett, Liberal Mary Jean McFall and New Democrat Michelle Taylor. Green Party candidate Lorraine Rekmans is also expected to be confirmed as a candidate.
On Thursday, Turmel was working the pavement getting signatures by promoting one idea: Paying youth with bus tickets to do community service.
The idea, which he dubbed “bus bucks,” is one variant of his central argument about the need for an alternate currency to serve as a solution to poverty.
Turmel wants to promote the idea of interest-free local barter economies, using time, or more precisely labour, as the currency, and claims to have financed the world’s first time bank software in 1984.
He equates interest with usury, noting that, while poker chips don’t depreciate, money does.
Turmel does not plan on doorknocking or putting up lawn signs in this campaign, but he does plan to attend the all-candidates meetings, where he can continue putting out his message.
“That’s my duty as a poor candidate,” he said. Rzajac@postmedia.com