Sunday, September 28, 2008

Know Your Fringe Parties III -- Libertarian Party of Canada

The Libertarian Party of Canada is one of the older and more established of the political parties that function centripetally in a centrifugal political universe.

They can also boast being one of the more philosophically coherent parties on the margins.

Under the leadership of Dennis Young, the Libertarians are running candidates in various ridings across four provinces in this election. From their internest site, they offer this as their mission statement:

Instead of government dominating the lives of Canadians through taxes and regulations, the Libertarian Party of Canada believes that Canadians should be
free to run their own lives.

We believe in a just, voluntary society that does not use government power to confiscate property or interfere with peaceful activities.

Government should act only as our servant and never as our master.

The Libertarian Party, in a nutshell, stands for smaller government, the primacy of individual rights, free enterprise, and property rights. If you were to sum it up in the colloquial, it might amount to this -- "let me get on with my life; don't interfere unless absolutely necessary; and the next time you concoct some grand social engineering programme, how about asking me before you pick my pocket to pay for it." I don't imagine these folks are big fans of 'the Green Shift.' But then not that many people are.

And yes, they do have a claim to philosophical coherence. The Libertarian Party's philosophy is rooted in the top soil of Enlightenment-era Classical Liberalism.

Far from believing that property owners have the right to do whatever they wish with their property, however, the Libertarians assert that "no one has the right to violate the property rights of others by pollution." In other words, your rights end where my rights begin.

However (and this is surely where they're going to lose a lot of Trudeaupians), they "call for an end to all government subsidies for child bearing, and an end to any provision of tax-supported services for children." I hope they aren't lumping education in here. Oh, wait. I spoke too soon: "We support the repeal of compulsory education laws, and the elimination of government operation, regulation, and subsidy of educational institutions." They also regard the welfare system as a "parasitic burden on all productive working people," and oppose minimum wage laws and any restrictions on full labour market participation (i.e., labour relations laws).

While many of their ideas and policies may be considered far outside of the current Canadian mainstream, they do contribute something to the national debate -- hence, their longevity as an 'outside the mainstream' party. However, their impact on the debate will continued to be hampered by what they no doubt see as their own principled stand against the excesses of the Canadian social contract of programmes and entitlements.

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