Libertarian Party leader will challenge Stephen Harper in Calgary Southwest
Western Standard, 28th August 2008
“Since his first interview after being elected leader of the Libertarian Party, Dennis Young has set his sights on Stephen Harper’s record in office. On issues as diverse as the war in Afghanistan, marijuana law reform, corporate welfare and Ezra Levant’s high profile campaign against the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Young has contrast his party’s policies against the record of the Conservative government…
…”“I’ve been working to show Canadians who believe in personal and economic freedom that Harper and the Conservatives do not share their core beliefs,” said Young. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than to take the Libertarian Party message directly to the constituents of Calgary Southwest.”…
…””Our message is that the Libertarian Party trusts adult Canadians with their own freedom and choices. We believe in the basic decency and common sense of average citizens and think they can be trusted to manage their own affairs and make their own choices without the interference of government,” said Young. “People will make bad choices from time to time, but that’s all part of what it means to be truly free. We need laws to protect people from the aggressive acts of others, not laws that protect people from themselves.”…”
Objectivist Paul McKeever, Leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario responds here: Hors d’oeuvre: a Libertarian in the Lion’s Den
I just wanted to make some observations about Paul McKeever’s post.
“…I do not believe a party can succeed in facilitating a freer society by bringing together people who oppose each other on matters of metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics…”
Whether or not the LP can succeed, unlike Objectivists, most libertarians believe in working together with people who have differing philosophies and religious beliefs. In other words, we try to ignore differences in beliefs about other areas and work together to pursue political liberty.
Another of McKeever’s comments:
“….For example, if the Libertarian Party of Canada is pacifistic – and many of its members are sure to be – it would be easier to get votes by campaigning against military participation in Afghanistan while campaigning against the oil-sector-victimizing, Alberta-milking, Liberal carbon tax.”
Note that here is “objective” evidence so-to-speak that the LP of Canada has many members (including the leader) who support an anti-war anti-aggression ideology called **libertarianism**. I don’t see not-being-aggressive as the same thing as “pacifism”, but I think that is how Objectivists interpret non-aggression and non-interventionism. They equate these policies to pacifism. Libertarians value the moral principle of not destroying innocent people with bombs and guns. Many others – neoconservatives, liberal internationalists and Objectivists by contrast find various public justifications for destroying innocent lives. One of them is a collectivist identification with the “national self-interest” or even “national greatness” and another is a collectivist identification with the whole world – “internationalism” (also a power grab for those who benefit from global bureacracies). Both groups disguise their aggression – and the real reasons – under a humanitarian cover-story that seems plausible to most people. Sometimes it is even an ideological cover-story such as “spreading democracy”.
Some Objectivist groups, from what I’ve read, don’t like the humanitarian cloak and believe that war should be fought strictly in the interest of the national government – which they somehow identify with a citizen’s individual self-interest. There are serious problems with this idea. First, there is an assumption that the government’s interests corresponds to its peoples’ best interest nationally and collectively and it doesn’t even do that. Also, people generally benefit from peace rather than war and there is less security and less freedom during war. Also, there is no way to get any truth from a secretive government once it starts lying to justify its war plans. (The institutionalized secrecy of Western governments delays public awareness of how bad they are: for example, Operation Paperclip and the 1953 overthrow of the Iranian government were long held secrets.) The belief system it projects about the world is questionable and its motives for war are questionable. In any case, it can’t possibly reflect what is the best interest of each individual, because each individual has more information about his/her own life. Self-interest is subjective but most people know that it is in their own best interest not to go along with criminal acts of aggression. However, too many people – clouded by collective identity – retain a special blind spot for their own government’s acts of aggression.
Libertarians believe that individual rights are universal, that individual lives have equal value across borders and cultures, regardless of the alleged “inferiority” or “superiority” of their culture or the form of government they suffer under. As a believer in individual responsibility, a libertarian should want justice pursued against those indidividuals who are responsible (with evidence) and does not approve of collective blame. Residents of other nations should not be threatened with destruction because of their governments, not any more than Canadian or American citizens should be hurt for what for our own governments do. The truth is that the U.S. and Britain etc. don’t actually want third world residents overthrowing the dicators they installed (such as the Shah of Iran in the 70’s).
Anyway, getting back to the main thread, I think this paragraph has perfectly reasonable advice for the LPC – opposing the Conservatives on their anti-libertarian positions and opposing the Liberals on their anti-libertarian positions. Dennis Young is probably intending to do something like this anyway, and I think it can go together with the other message of pointing out how the Conservatives aren’t living up to their expectation of being a small government party.
“In my view, choosing to run in Stephen Harper’s riding is a mistake if the Libertarian leader expects thereby to boost his vote count.”
I think McKeever is probably misinterpreting the strategy and its purpose. Yes, it’s possible that a large number of Harper supporters would come out in response to shore up their leader locally, and of course those voters who hate the Liberals would try to prevent a Liberal majority nationally.
However, as far as voters unhappy with the Conservatives, Dennis Young may receive a larger than normal (for a Libertarian) vote count as a result – because of libertarian-inclined people who have no loyalty at all to the Conservatives and who don’t care whether the Conservatives or Liberals take power. Who knows? Possibly some Liberal or NDP supporters unimpressed by their parties may vote Libertarian as well as people who have never supported any party.
I believe there is such a thing as a freedom movement in Canada – libertarian or otherwise – whose members see both the Liberals and the Conservatives as terrible Establishment parties. And they do not have a traditional left and right point of view. These are the ones concerned about how the Establishment parties have done nothing but erode Canada’s civil liberties, sovereignty and formerly peaceful foreign policy. And probably many of them opppse Conservative-supported Bill C-51 (http://www.stopc51.com/), the Conservative-supported war in Afghanistan and the Conservative-supported SPP – all these things which the Liberals are just as likely to support in one way or another. And how easy is it to top the Conservatives when it comes to freedom of speech, gun rights and property rights? Very easy. And not to mention growing skepticism towards the drug war. There are a lot of reasons why the Libertarian vote count in Harper’s riding may shoot up.
So that’s on top of the fact that public attention to the Libertarian Party will likely increase somewhat because of this direct confrontation with Harper.
My attitude – likely shared by others – is that I couldn’t care less about either the Conservatives or Liberals. I want them both sweating. And I want the libertarian message out there one way or another.
To respond to libertarian criticism of electoral politics in the comments section of the Western Standard post, I feel that using electoral politics is a perfectly defensible strategy. The public and media communicate about political ideas primarily during elections. That is when political ideas become most relevant to a broad audience. My point does not try to address all issues with this strategy but it just explains why I feel it can be totally legitimate and effective given the right circumstances.
It’s true that nobody has all of these issues solved yet. I think we need to tackle the nature of the political system from all angles and even challenge the system of representation. The critical issue right now for people like me is that we see our society moving rapidly in a totalitarian direction, so there are urgent problems which can’t wait. Canadians who care about freedom need to change their attitudes right now and they have to challenge governments and central planning at all levels – immediately – through media, through politics, through education. There is not enough libertarianism in any of these areas. Libertarian ideas are very relevant because of the urgent need felt by many to reign in the power of government.
September 2nd, 2008
Comments for Libertarian Party of Canada leader to challenge Harper
September 2nd, 2008 at 1:34 am
Excellent Blog. I’ve been reading along and just wanted to say hi. I will be reading more of your posts in the future.
September 2nd, 2008 at 4:39 am
A bit tangential, but something that came to mind while reading your blog was that I’ve heard Stephen Harper described as a libertarian in the past. He is not libertarian, but I do understand why some folks might get that impression from some of things he did before he became Prime Minister.