Fringe Party Profiles: The Libertarian Party of Canada

With all the commotion over our recent post criticizing the libertarian-minded Republican candidate Ron Paul, this seemed like a good time to revisit our interview with one of the organizers of the Libertarian Party of Canada. It was originally posted on April 5, 2011, as part of a series of interviews with fringe party candidates during the last Canadian federal election campaign:  

The Libertarian Party of Canada is full of, well, libertarians. So they're not exactly big on big government. Freedom is the priority; government should be strictly limited to ensuring that people's freedoms and rights are protected. The policies on their website lay out a plan to strip it all down to nothing but the bare essentials.

They "support the repeal of all taxation" and with it, almost all government programs and services. They would cancel funding for child services, educational institutions, welfare and other relief programs. They would privatize health care, legalize all drugs, end the requirement for prescriptions, and do away with all forced psychiatric confinement. They would sell off the CBC, the NFB and all National Parks. They would end minimum wage and the 40-hour work week, while repealing the Canadian Pension Program. All government intervention in interest rates—and the economy in general—would be done away with, including the Bank of Canada. They would end gun control, repeal the War Measures Act and  prohibit military conscription. They would open up immigration, while canceling all foreign aid. They would support free trade with the rest of the world, while withdrawing from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The government would, however, pass laws to the protect the environment. Consumers would also be protected from fraud and misrepresentation (though all consumer protection laws and safety standards would be repealed). The military would still receive enough funding to ensure the defense of the country, with a policy of non-intervention internationally. Absolute free speech would be protected, except for cases of threat and fraud.

The current leader of the Libertarian Party—which has been around since the '70s—is Dennis Young, a Calgarian and former soldier. In the last election, he led his party to an 8th place finish (of the 19 parties who ran), right behind the Marxist-Leninists and ahead of the Progressive Canadian Party. The ran 26 candidates and received 7,300 votes. That's 0.05% of the ballots cast.

We recently spoke with John Shaw, their V.P. of Political Action, to get his thoughts on the party and the current campaign.

How would you describe your party to a voter who isn't already familiar with it?

The party of choice. We believe most people most of the time make the best choices on how to live their lives. Government is for controlling the 1% of the people making bad choices, that affect others, if not restricted or some control put on them after causing problems (theft, violence, etc.). Unfortunately just about all governments want to regulate and control virtually everything everyone does, and so they take away the choice of the individual who is not harming others. As a result some person who has never met you and who may not care much about you ends up making far too many choices for you.

To change this we advocate a strong constitution that limits government to only the roles that only they can do. This is a fraction of what they do now, but if you look at the freedom and economic success of countries it is in almost direct proportion to the extent they have already embrace this idea since the concept was created in the 17th century.

What do you think is the most important issue facing voters in this election?

Out of control government spending.

What kind of voter do you expect your party to appeal to?

People who are comfortable they are responsible citizens and that most of the time their neighbour is too. People who do not feel the need to dominate their neighbours through the proxy of government.

What kind of role does your party believe the government should play in the delivery of health care, the protection of the environment, and the regulation of the economy?

Health care and economic regulation:

Government should be regulating against fraud, and providing an independent and impartial system to remedy the situation where fraud or violence happens. They should not be providing ‘services’, especially in a monopoly fashion as they in health care now. They should not be involved in removing choices like the CRTC or determining who owns a private company simply to buy votes.


Pollution is separate and is a complex problem in that all activity creates some amount of it so the goal cannot be zero even in theory, as theoretically the level and be with fraud or violence. Pollution needs to be regulated so that excessive harm does not come to people, and offenders need to be treated as with any other criminal who was harming people through negligence. The penalty must fit the crime too. In the past so often government would give exemption from prosecution simply for political reasons, so great harm could be done without remedy by the people harmed. What excessive harm is needs to be scientifically determined on a case by case basis, and not be the whim of politicians of people with alternative agendas as it is so often now.

What do you see as the least important issue currently distracting attention away from more vital ones?

The cult like status most parties seem to be trying to create around their leaders, while demonizing the opposition leaders. Policy matters, not perception, and there is little difference in the policies of the main 4 parties.

What do you see as the biggest flaw in the way the country has been run over the last few years?

To much spending during the Harper Government years, “the last few years” and a significant loss of freedom on social issues with the new social engineering programs (mandatory sentencing and the like).

What's your response to people who suggest that voting for a lesser-known political party is tantamount to throwing your vote away?

I ask them to explain why their think the other party they are going to vote for is going to be any different than the other parties. With some smaller parties there can be real a difference and that is their choice, but if they think the policy of say the Liberals vs. the Conservatives is enough different to be enough of a net difference to be bothered going down to vote then I just say thanks and move on since they will never understand us.

What is the biggest challenge you expect your party to face over the course of the campaign?

We are an all volunteer party, not being given millions of dollars from the government. So people finding time to get the message out is always a challenge no matter how motivated.

What has to have happened by the time the election is over for you to look back on it as a success?

I want to hear the word libertarian *used correctly* in the media 10 times. That is a huge first step as it is a great idea that has a tendency to sell itself once people have heard it.

What are your long-term hopes for your party? Where would you like to see it in five or ten years?

I would like to see our ideas stolen by the major parties, and for them to be scrambling against us to be the most libertarian party (as opposed to now where they are scrambling to be the most authoritarian with endless piles of new programs).

You can learn more about the Libertarian Party by visiting them online at

This is the fifth in a series of profiles we will be posting over the course of the campaign.  Here are the others we have published so far:

Canadian Action Party, leader Christopher Porter here.
United Party of Canada, leader Brian Jedan, here.
Marijuana Party of Canada, leader Blair T. Longley here
Rhinoceros Party of Canada, leader Francois "Yo" Gound here.
Pirate Party of Canada, former leader Jake Daynes here
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, leader Liz White here.
Christian Heritage Party of Canada, Executive Director Vicki Gunn here. 

Communist Party of Canada, campaign coordinator Dave Andrews here
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) leader Anna DiCarlo here.


Libertarian Driver said...

The last question was the most important one. Myself, I have a vision of an ever growing base of Libertarian activist. People are dissatisfied with the existing political parties. They are seeking options to evaluate. As more and more people adopt the libertarian philosophy they become active. Slowly at first, but then its starts to spread and now with the information highway, the message will no longer travel at a snail mail speed. The message is about to become viral in the world. I see a future where the greatest market share of political activist are believers and promoters of libertarian ideologies. The future belongs to Libertarians because the people will choose to make it so. It is the road we humans are on, but there will speed bumps and slight detours. We age going there after the existing system has self destructed.

Darcy Neal Donnelly
SD&SG Candidate
Libertarian Party of Canada

Anonymous said...

Nothing should be a crime unless it violates another's right to life, liberty, and property.

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