John C. Turmel: Wikis


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John C. Turmel
Born February 22, 1951 (1951-02-22) (age 58)
Rouyn, Quebec, Canada
Other names The Engineer, The Gambler, The Banking System Engineer, Bank Fighter Extraordinaire, TajProfessor, Great Canadian Gambler
Occupation Professional gambler
Known for Perennial candidate for elections in Canada

John C. Turmel (born February 22, 1951, Rouyn, Quebec, Canada[1]) is a perennial candidate for election in Canada, and according to the Guinness Book of Records holds the records for the most elections contested and for the most elections lost.[2] As of November 2009 Turmel has contested 71 elections and lost 70. The other contest was a by-election that was pre-empted by a general election call.



Turmel believes in Louis Even's Quebec social credit theory of monetary reform. He has also campaigned for the legalization of gambling, the adoption of "Local Employment Trading Systems" (LETS) which are interest-free barter arrangements, and for the legalization of marijuana. He has participated in several protests outside of Canada's major banking institutions, saying that bank interest promote poverty and starvation in the third world.

Turmel, who lists his occupation as "professional gambler", was active in the Social Credit Party of Canada and the Social Credit Party of Ontario in the 1980s, and founded the Christian Credit Party in the 1980s, and the Abolitionist Party of Canada in the 1990s. He wears a trade-mark white construction helmet when campaigning, and calls himself "the Engineer". The colour of his helmet is said to not only refer to the white construction helmets worn by engineers and architects on construction sites, but also to the berets blanc (white berets), the nickname of the Pilgrims of Saint Michael, a radical monetarist faction within the Quebec social credit movement.

Turmel's grandfather, Adelard Turmel, supported the Social Credit Party of Canada from its inception in 1935, and he passed on a belief in social credit monetary theories to his descendants.

Turmel describes himself as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, though his beliefs are distinct from mainstream Christianity. He frequently refers to Jesus as a radical debt reformer, and often quotes the line, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors", from the Lord's Prayer. (This line is usually translated as "Forgive us our trespasses" or "Forgive us our sins", which Turmel regards as a distortion of its proper meaning. He has argued that Jesus died to bring salvation for mankind in this world, rather than in an afterlife.)

He has composed several poems outlining his beliefs, all of which are written in doggerel verse. The following example is typical:

Debt Cancellation, "Tobin tax," they're splashing in the pool,
The problem's in the money pumphouse. "Interest" the tool.
The vast solution takes all errant money-pumps in hand,
It's not a half-vast splashing in the money pool that's planned.
Relief could reach the whole wide world to ancient strife placate.
Imagine Earth as Eden with no feedback causing hate.
The Christians and the Muslims and the Nazis and the Jews,
Are in agreement L.E.T.S. conforms to everybody's views.[3]

Turmel's brother, Raymond Turmel, has also campaigned for public office on several occasions.



1976: Turmel received a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa with a specialization in the Mathematics of gambling and became Teaching Assistant to Dr. Walter Schneider in the course until 1978 when he was fired for running a highly publicized Blackjack "21" game in the Faculty Club.

1977: First convicted of keeping a common gaming house for running Blackjack games at home.

1979: At the age of 28, Turmel sought election for the first time as an independent candidate in Ottawa West in the May federal election and argued interest on money, usury, was the evil instability in financial affairs and swore to "abolish interest rates". He won 193 votes.


1980: He ran again as an independent in the February federal election in Ottawa Centre. His application to run as a Social Credit candidate was rejected by party leader Fabien Roy. He won 64 votes. The party lost all its seats.

Because of the death of the Social Credit candidate in Frontenac riding in Quebec during the election, a by-election was held in March. When Fabien Roy accepted the nomination without a convention, Turmel ran again as an independent against the Social Credit candidate.

He ran as an independent candidate in the April 13 federal by-election in London West, claiming to be interim leader of the "Ontario Social Credit Party".

Turmel won 77 votes as an "independent Social Credit" candidate in a September 8 by-election in Hamilton West.

He also sought the Social Credit Party of Canada’s interim national leadership unsuccessfully at a convention in November in Calgary. Turmel opposed the appointment of Martin Hattersley as interim leader of the federal Social Credit party as being undemocratic. The party executive claimed that the party did not have sufficient funds to hold a convention.

Turmel ran for Mayor of Ottawa in November, collecting 1,928 votes. At the same time, he was a candidate in a provincial by-election in Carleton riding coming in last as the Social Credit candidate.

With grandfather Adelard, mother Therese and brother Ray Turmel in support, Turmel started picketing the Bank of Canada on every Thursday when the interest rate was set and then picketing Parliament too. This continued for 5 years until the retirement of Governor Gerald Bouey.

1981: Turmel was convicted and jailed for 21 days for keeping a gaming house and playing 21, lost the appeal but had the sentence converted to 100 hours community service playing accordion in old-age homes.

In the March 1981 provincial election, Turmel ran as a Social Credit candidate in Ottawa Centre, while his brother Raymond ran for the party in Ottawa South, Serge Girard, Dale Alkerton and Andrew Dynowski ran in neighbouring ridings. It was reported that he became interim leader of the Ontario Social Credit Party in early March, although it is not clear if other members of the party agreed.

In September, Turmel was a candidate in the federal by-election in Spadina riding in Toronto, collecting 98 votes. The national Social Credit party president Carl O’Malley refused to endorse a candidate on the basis that the Liberal candidate, Jim Coutts, a former adviser to Pierre Trudeau, was a personal friend. Raymond Turmel ran as an independent against O’Malley in the by-election held in Joliette, Quebec on the same day, claiming to be the "real Social Credit" candidate.

In October, the Ontario Social Credit Party conducted a leadership vote. The eleven delegates, who represented about 100 party members throughout the province, elected former Toronto mayoral candidate Anne McBride as their new interim leader in a vote of 7 to 1 with 3 spoiled ballots. One vote was cast for Bruce Arnold. Turmel, his brother Ray and their mother, Therese, wrote the word "unconstitutional" across the ballots. Turmel argued that the party was violating its constitution by holding a vote without providing four months' notice to its members. McBride was a Christian fundamentalist minister who vowed to run the party "on Christian principles".

In September, Turmel was reported to be fighting his expulsion from the federal Social Credit party, and seeking its leadership. Further, he was reported to be seeking to replace Joe Clark as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Turmel denied the report, but the journalist stood by her story.

1982: In June, Turmel returned to Hamilton West to run in a provincial by-election as a candidate of the Christian Credit Party that he had recently founded. He won 173 votes.

The Christian Credit Party was formed after the Social Credit party refused to renew the memberships of Turmel and his brother Raymond. The Turmel brothers said that they left the party because it had compromised its principles on interest rates.

He also ran for the Christian Credit Party in the September federal by-election in Broadview—Greenwood (in Toronto), winning an all-time low 16 votes. Raymond ran for the party in Leeds—Grenville in eastern Ontario.

In July, Turmel attempted to recruit members for his new party at the Social Credit national convention in Regina. In September, the party claimed to have 75 members.

In November, Turmel ran for alderman in the Ottawa suburb of Gloucester, and appears to have abandoned an attempt to run in a provincial by-election in Toronto-York South. Raymond ran for mayor of Gloucester, while their colleague Marc Gauvin ran for mayor of Ottawa.

1983: By 1983, the Christian Credit Party appears to have died. Turmel said he disbanded his party because he realized voters would not give it a chance. "People won't vote for a new party. They've been voting for one colour all their lives. The only way to do anything is to get into a recognized party."

Turmel, with Therese and Ray, Marc and Emi Gauvin and Serge Girard picketed the Bilderberger conference held at Chateau Montebello.

Turmel ran as an independent candidate in the Central Nova (Nova Scotia) riding by-election in September against Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney. He claimed to be a "member of the Abolitionist wing of the PC party".

Turmel won 97 votes as a candidate in a provincial by-election in Stormont—Dundas—Glengarry, Ontario.

1984: In the months before the September federal election, Turmel attempted to take over the Ottawa branch of the fledgling Green Party of Canada by signing up new members, seeking the party’s nomination in Ottawa Centre. After the party had appointed a candidate in Ottawa Centre rather than hold nominations, Turmel claimed that it was undemocratic and called a meeting at which all Greens were invited to elect candidates to run in various Ottawa area ridings under the Green Party banner. The party rejected those nominations, and then held its own meeting to nominate new candidates.

In the election, Turmel ran as an independent against Green Party leader Hancock in Toronto—Beaches, Marc Gauvin ran in Ottawa Centre, supporter Serge Girard in Ottawa—Vanier, and John and Ray’s mother, Therese Turmel ran in Ottawa West, and Ray Turmel ran as an "independent Green" in Nepean—Carleton.

Turmel ran as an independent candidate in the December 13 provincial by-election in Ottawa Centre, and Serge Girard ran in Ottawa East. Turmel also ran for mayor of Ottawa.

1985: In 1985, the Executive of the Ontario Branch of the Green Party expelled Ontario member John Turmel and Quebec member Ray Turmel.

Turmel appears to have founded the "Social Credit Party of Ontario", which was not affiliated with other social credit parties. Turmel led a campaign against the practice of cheque cashing agencies that cashed social assistance (welfare) cheques at a discount to the face value. Turmel issued ID card to SA recipients and recruited local retailers to cash the cheques at no discount. The Social Credit Party of Ontario guaranteed these cheques. In November, Turmel supporter Walter McPhee ran for Ottawa mayor and Turmel for Nepean mayor.

1986: Turmel ran in an April provincial by-election in Toronto-York East and an August 14 provincial by-election in Cochrane, Ontario, apparently under the "Social Credit Party of Ontario" banner.

In September, he ran as an "independent créditiste" claiming to be the heir of Réal Caouette in a federal by-election in St.-Maurice, Quebec when future federal Liberal leader Jean Chrétien resigned.

1987: In June, Turmel ran in a federal by-election in Hamilton Mountain. He was reported to be "attempting to form" an Ontario Social Credit Party.

1988: In the autumn of 1988, Turmel ran for mayor of Ottawa, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and Member of Provincial Parliament for Welland—Thorold in the Niagara peninsula in a November 3 provincial by-election.


1991: Turmel was convicted in Gatineau, Quebec, of running a common gaming house and sentenced to 4 months in jail. Before getting out after one month, Turmel ran for Chair of Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality while in jail, collecting approximately 3,500 votes.

1993: Ottawa and Ontario Provincial Police raided the private 28-table Casino Turmel in Project Robin Hood, the largest gaming house raid in Canadian history. Turmel eventually convicted and sentenced to 200 hours community service playing accordion in retirement homes.

Turmel founded the Abolitionist Party of Canada, which nominated 80 candidates in the 1993 federal election, one more than the Green Party of Canada.

1994: Turmel won over 4,000 votes running for Chair of Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality.

1995: Turmel won 46 votes as the Abolitionist Party candidate in the February 13 Ottawa—Vanier federal by-election. The party also nominated John Long in Brome—Mississquoi, Quebec, who won 15 votes.

1996: John Turmel toured New Zealand speaking to the Greendollar and Social Credit Party conventions.

In June, Turmel ran under the Abolitionist Party of Canada banner in a Hamilton East federal by-election. One month after the Ottawa Sun announced his loss in an article headlined, "Super Loser Fails Again", the Hamilton Spectator reported that the Hamilton Self-Help Centre was starting a Hamilton LETS.

Turmel and mother Therese picketed the Bilderberger Conference in King City, Ontario.

1997: Turmel made his first presentation on World-Wide LETS at TOES (The Other Economic Summit) in Denver, USA.

Turmel won 4,126 votes (2.5% of the total) running for Chair of Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality, in which Bob Chiarelli defeated Peter Clark by 2,798 votes. Turmel won 214 votes as an independent candidate in Ottawa West—Nepean in the 1997 federal election. In September, Turmel won 201 votes as an independent candidate in Ottawa West in a provincial by-election.

Turmel ran for the board of the National Capital Freenet ( after the previous board reduced the number of seats from 7 to 5. Turmel came 6th, and argues he was cheated out of the only election he ever won.

Turmel appeared in the Guinness World Book of Records for most elections contested at 41.

1998: Turmel ran as an "independent Abolitionist" in a September 14 federal by-election in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Turmel made his second presentation on World Wide LETS at TOES in Birmingham England before British speaking tour.

1999: Turmel won 106 votes as an Abolitionist Party candidate in a March federal by-election in Windsor—St. Clair, Ontario, which was more than the margin by which Liberal candidate Rick Limoges defeated Joe Comartin of the New Democratic Party.

Turmel made his third presentation on World Wide LETS at TOES in Koln, Germany, before a European speaking tour through Belgium, France, Holland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.


2000: Turmel ran as an independent candidate in the September Kings—Hants (Nova Scotia) federal by-election against Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark. Turmel won 89 votes as an independent candidate in Ottawa West—Nepean in the November federal election. Raymond Turmel won 728 votes in Ottawa—Vanier as a candidate for the Marijuana Party of Canada; John had previously attempted to run for the party's leadership, but was blocked.

Turmel made a presentation to the United Nations on the interest-free UNILETS resulting in Millennium Declaration Resolution C6 to governments to use an alternative time-based currency to restructure the global financial architecture.

2002: The Marijuana Party of Canada leadership election was called off after Turmel showed up to contest the election.

2003: Turmel won 295 votes as an independent candidate in Brant riding in the October provincial election. His 56th campaign was for Mayor of Ottawa in the November municipal election, when he collected 1,166 votes.

He also tried to resurrect the Libertarian Party of Canada, but was prevented from doing so when former members re-registered the name first.

2004: Turmel ran as an independent candidate and placed fifth with 120 votes in a May 13 provincial by-election in Hamilton East.

2005: Turmel placed last of eight candidates as an independent candidate in the March 17 provincial by-election in Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey.

2006: John Turmel placed last for the federal election in Brant riding with 213 votes.

Turmel was convicted of drug possession in March 2006, resulting from a one-man protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa three years earlier. Turmel had taken three kilograms of marijuana to the hill, and openly smoked a joint in front of politicians and security officials. He has announced plans to appeal.[4]

The conviction was delivered on the same day as a provincial by-election in Nepean—Carleton, in which Turmel was a candidate.

2008: Turmel ran as an independent candidate in a by-election in the riding of Guelph.[5] On Monday, August 25, he disrupted a televised debate involving candidates from the four major political parties to which the other four candidates had not been invited to participate. He yelled out his objections so loudly that the moderator of the debate could not be heard. He was eventually removed from the premises (River Run Centre) by the [Guelph police].[6] The by-election was pre-empted by a federal election call in which Turmel re-filed his candidacy for the same riding - he came in tenth out of eleven candidates receiving 58 votes.

2009: On September 10, 2009, police were called after Turmel disrupted an all-candidates meeting during the provincial by-election in Ontario's St. Paul's riding. Angry at a moderator's rule which forced residents to direct their questions at specific candidates, thus effectively limiting his opportunity to speak, Turmel lashed out and walked around the church hall shouting at debate panelists and audience members. At one point, the debate had to pause as a group of attendees attempted a citizen's arrest. Turmel stated that he would "ruin everyone's night" because "mine was ruined".[7]

Election results

Date Level Location Party Votes
1. May 22, 1979 Federal Ottawa West Independent 193
2. February 20, 1980 Federal Ottawa Centre Independent 62
3. March 24, 1980 Federal by-election Frontenac Independent 101[8]
4. September 8, 1980 Federal by-election Hamilton West Independent Social Credit 88
5. November 10, 1980 Municipal Ottawa N/A 1,928
6. November 20, 1980 Provincial by-election Carleton Social Credit ?
7. March 19, 1981 Provincial Ottawa Centre Social Credit 376
8. April 12, 1981 Federal by-election London West Independent 37
9. May 4, 1981 Federal by-election Lévis Independent 172
10. August 17, 1981 Federal by-election Spadina Independent 69
11. June 17, 1982 Provincial by-election Hamilton West Christian Credit Party 173
12. October 12, 1982 Federal by-election Broadview-Greenwood Christian Credit Party 19
13. November 4, 1982 Provincial by-election York South Independent 66
14. November 8, 1982 Municipal/Alderman Gloucester N/A ?
15. August 29, 1983 Federal by-election Central Nova Independent 46
16. December 15, 1983 Provincial by-election Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry ? 97
17. September 4, 1984 Federal Beaches Independent 112
18. December 13, 1984 Provincial by-election Ottawa Centre Independent 90
19. May 2, 1985 Provincial Ottawa Centre Independent 364
20. November 12, 1985 Municipal Nepean N/A ?
21. April 17, 1986 Provincial by-election York East Social Credit Party of Ontario 44
22. August 14, 1986 Provincial by-election Cochrane North Social Credit Party of Ontario 75
23. September 29, 1986 Federal by-election Saint-Maurice Independent creditiste 104
24. July 20, 1987 Federal by-election Hamilton Mountain Independent 166
25. September 10, 1987 Provincial Ottawa Centre Independent 598
26. March 31, 1988 Provincial by-election London North Independent 115
27. November 3, 1988 Provincial by-election Welland-Thorold Independent 187
28. November 14, 1988 Municipal/ Mayor Ottawa N/A 3,123
29. November 21, 1988 Federal Ottawa Centre Independent 152
30. August 13, 1990 Federal by-election Oshawa Independent 50
31. September 6, 1990 Provincial Ottawa Centre Independent 160
32. December 10, 1990 Federal by-election York North Independent 97
33. November 12, 1991 Municipal/Regional Chair Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton N/A ~3,500
34. October 23, 1993 Federal Frontenac Abolitionist 195
35. December 2, 1993 Provincial by-election Essex South Independent 84
36. March 17, 1994 Provincial by-election Victoria-Haliburton Independent 123
37. November 14, 1994 Municipal/Regional Chair Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton N/A 4,563
38. February 13, 1995 Federal by-election Ottawa-Vanier Abolitionist Party 46
39. June 8, 1995 Provincial Ottawa Centre Independent 173
40. March 25, 1996 Federal by-election Etobicoke North Abolitionist Party 75
41. June 17, 1996 Federal by-election Hamilton East Abolitionist Party 21
42. June 2, 1997 Federal Ottawa West-Nepean Independent 211
43. September 4, 1997 Provincial by-election Ottawa West Independent 201
44. November 10, 1997 Municipal/Regional Chair Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton N/A 4,126
45. September 14, 1998 Federal by-election Sherbrooke Independent Abolitionist 97
46. April 12, 1999 Federal by-election Windsor-St. Clair Abolitionist Party 106
47. June 3, 1999 Provincial Ottawa West-Nepean Independent 94
48. November 15, 1999 Federal by-election Hull-Aylmer Independent 51
49. September 7, 2000 Provincial by-election Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot Independent 80
50. September 11, 2000 Federal by-election Kings-Hants Independent 221
51. November 13, 2000 Municipal/Mayor Ottawa N/A 677
52. November 27, 2000 Federal Ottawa West-Nepean Independent 89
53. March 22, 2001 Provincial by-election Parry Sound-Muskoka Independent 61
54. May 2, 2002 Provincial by-election Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey Independent 120
55. October 2, 2003 Provincial Brant Independent 295
56. November 10, 2003 Municipal/ Mayor Ottawa N/A 1,166
57. May 13, 2004 Provincial by-election Hamilton East Independent Abolitionist 120
58. June 28, 2004 Federal Brant Independent 371
59. March 17, 2005 Provincial by-election Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey Independent Abolitionist 85
60. January 23, 2006 Federal Brant Independent 219
61. March 30, 2006 Provincial by-election Nepean-Carleton Independent 112
62. September 14, 2006 Provincial by-election Parkdale-High Park Independent 77
63. November 13, 2006 Municipal/Mayor Brantford N/A 226
64. February 8, 2007 Provincial by-election Burlington Independent 90
65. September 17, 2007 Federal by-election Outremont Independent 30[9]
66. October 10, 2007 Provincial Brant Independent 272[10]
67.* September 8, 2008 Federal by-election Guelph Independent N/A[11]
68. October 14, 2008 Federal Guelph Independent 58
69. March 5, 2009 Provincial by-election Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Independent 92
70. September 17, 2009 Provincial by-election St. Paul's Independent 51
71. November 9, 2009 Federal by-election Hochelaga Independent 71


  1. ^ Birthdate and birthplace: CBC News website.
  2. ^ Résultats des élections, Ontario 2007, Circonscription Brant, Radio-Canada, October 10, 2007
  3. ^ The Gates Poem: website.
  4. ^ "Byelection candidate convicted on drug charge": CBC News website.
  5. ^ Guide
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^
  8. ^ Among the candidates for that election was perennial candidate Patricia Métivier. Turmel finished a distant 6th, just ahead of Métivier who finished 7th.
  9. ^ Turmel received 30 votes (0.13%) and finished 12th out of 12 candidates.
  10. ^ With results from 291 precincts out of 291, Turmel received 272 votes (0.57%) and finished 6th out of 6 candidates.
  11. ^ The scheduled by-election for Guelph was cancelled due to the dissolution of the 39th Canadian parliament and the issuing of writs for the 40th Canadian federal election.

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