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Screen capture from the OPC website.

The Online Party of Canada has announced that it will field candidates in upcoming federal by-elections in the ridings of Durham and Calgary Centre vacated by Conservative MPs Bev Oda and Lee Richardson. The move announced on Wednesday will take the web-based party from "eligible" to "registered" political party status.

The OPC, the brainchild of leader Michael Nicula, who is also the director of a Toronto-based IT services company, aims to get ordinary Canadians involved in the political process using Internet technology.

The biggest problem in Canadian politics, Mr. Nicula said, is the large disconnect between MPs and their constituents. He gave as an example his unsuccessful attempt to speak to his MP about his opposition to several government initiatives.

The only way to bridge that gap is by digitizing democracy, or as he says, "enabling participatory democracy using the best tools at our disposal."

The party will launch a project called Agora in September, which Mr. Nicula said is the "most advanced method of interaction between voters and their MPs."

Members of the web-based initiative will be able to vote on every bill being debated in Parliament. They will also be able to see where each party stands on specific bills and send their votes to their MPs in an effort to get them to respond to constituents rather than toe the party line.

Mr. Nicula hopes that Agora will force politicians not just to listen to those they represent, but advocate for the issues they care about in Ottawa.

He acknowledged that it's a lofty goal and isn't very optimistic that MPs will vote against their parties even when they know what their constituents think about legislation.

The OPC, which says it is on neither the left nor the right of the political spectrum, offers its members the chance to shape its platform by voting on a series of initiatives on its website. For example, the party supports an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan and the scrapping of the long-gun registry, but those positions can evolve based on the votes of members.

"Canadians should demand accountability and voter input in how the government is run," Mr. Nicula said. "And this is the way to do it."

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