A Montreal candidate in the Australian elections
Rachel Lamarche, candidate in the district of Brunswick for the Animal Justice Party of Victoria.
Rachel Lamarche, who grew up in the borough of Saint-Laurent, is now a candidate in the state elections of Victoria, Australia. A citizen of kangaroo country since 2021, she is running for a small party fighting for animal justice. Subwaywanted to know why a native Montrealer, having never considered going into politics in her native country, was going there today, on the other side of the world.
Graduated from University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) in management and fashion design, Rachel Lamarche went to Australia during her master's degree at HEC. Falling in love with the country, she then chose to make her life there and has now lived there for 10 years. When she arrived, however, she “never” thought of going into politics.
Having always had the value of “taking part in making the world a better place”, the one whose mother was director of Le Chaînon has always been involved in various causes and within her community. That's why, during the federal election earlier in the year, she got involved as a volunteer for a tiny party whose values mirrored her own: the Animal Justice Party of Victoria (AJP).
I think that there are no parties that represent these values in Quebec or even in Canada. We have a green party here too, but it doesn’t have, in my opinion, enough policies that recognize the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. For me, that is a huge problem.
Rachel Lamarche, Montreal native running for office in the state of Victoria, Australia
“Animals, people, planetis the slogan of the party, which looks at government systems “from a perspective that sees animals not as resources, but rather as members of the ecosystem with a right to their own lives.” Agriculture and animal exploitation per se are seen, in the eyes of the AJP, as a problem. The left-wing party therefore advocates equality, inclusiveness and gender diversity, and many of the measures it proposes are environmental.
One thing leading to another, the native Montrealer finally found herself on election signs in the state elections. It occurs in the district of Brunswick, located north of the city of Melbourne.
It’s a bit like running for a riding in downtown Montreal like Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, compares political science professor at the Australian National University (ANU) Matthew Kerby. Canadian-born, he has taught at Concordia, the University of Ottawa and Memorial University of Newfoundland.
In the Australian system, the state parliaments are divided into two assemblies. The upper house in English is the executive council of the state, while the lower house (lower house in English) is the Legislative Assembly. It’s for the second time that the original Laurentian presents itself. The elections for these two levels take place at the same time.
Citizens have two weeks of early voting, which end this Friday, to make their choice. Official election day is this Saturday, November 26. They will then elect 88 representatives to the lower house (one per district) and 40 representatives to the upper house, distributed among the 8 different electoral regions.
“I have to say that the party doesn’t have much of a chance of winning, that’s pretty clear,” humbly admits the candidate for Brunswick. Only one AJP candidate was elected in the last elections, to the upper house. But it is in full awareness of the situation that she chose to get involved in the party. “It’s a system that gives more space [than the Canadian system] to smaller parties,” she says.
The country and its states operate under the Preferential Vote electoral system. At the polling station, citizens rank the candidates in order of preference. To be elected, a candidate must obtain more than 50% of the votes, explains Matthew Kerby. Thus, if no one passes the bar of the majority, the candidate having obtained the fewest votes placing him in the first rank of preferences is eliminated, and the voters return to the polling station. And so on, until a majority of the votes is obtained by a candidate.
The current strategy of the AJP is to elect candidates to the upper house. Rachel Lamarche's goal, as a candidate for the lower house, is to obtain 4% of the first ranks, in order to be able to obtain financing for her party.
“It’s really important that there is a representation for this kind of party in Quebec or Montreal, believes the candidate, because often I hear about the fact that animal policies in Quebec are absolutely cruel. The problem is that here, the electoral system is not welcoming to small parties, judge the candidate and the professor of political science.
In Australia, “the system allows voters to express their support for small parties, even if they are not their first choice”, popularizes the latter. He admits, however, that it is a slower system, and more difficult to understand. “That being said, nobody seems to have a problem understanding it here,” says Matthew Kerby.