by Peter Diekmeyer, Sprott Money:
Maxime Bernier’s near-win of the Conservative Party leadership suggests that Canadians increasingly are tempted by smaller government. But maybe Bernier is in the wrong party. So says Tim Moen, the dynamic leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, whose upcoming convention, will take place between July 5thand 7th, 2018 at The Westin Ottawa. Following is an edited version of Moen’s comments.
What will be the key themes of the upcoming convention?
In a word: “energy.” Libertarians have long been a small niche in Canadian politics, which is dominated by special interests. But recent events have energized our base. Maxime Bernier’s near win of the Conservative Party leadership and his subsequent repudiation by the party’s establishment provided Canadians with a key message: those who want liberty, free markets and smaller government will be more at home in the Libertarian Party.
Your recently provided Bernier a chance to run for the Libertarian Party’s leadership by offering to step aside. What makes you think he would do a better job than you?
Maxime has a national profile, well-established credentials and excellent knowledge of the threats posed by the Bank of Canada’s disastrous monetary policies. Libertarians are a party of ideas not of personalities. We work with anyone who is willing to build a better country. If that means stepping aside to take on new talent, I’d do so in a second.
We are seeing increasing signs that Canadians agree. For example the Ontario Libertarians ran a near-full slate in the last election. There is also considerable interest in our Ottawa event. Journalist Brian Lilley is scheduled to appear as is Matt Bufton of the Institute for Liberal Studies. We also reached out to the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Blockchain Association of Canada. Even to the local Bitcoin community!
Bitcoin? Aren’t crypto-currencies just about tax evasion, criminality and terrorism financing?
That’s absurd. That’s like saying that the U.S. dollar is all about tax evasion, criminality and terrorism financing. Any tool, ranging from a pencil to a bulldozer can be used for good or bad. Crypto-currencies add stability by making the financial system more diverse and thus, more resilient.
A Libertarian government would legalize Bitcoin and all related cryptocurrencies. That would provide huge benefits because Canada’s blockchain community is among the world’s leaders. For example, gold-backed cryto-currencies could one day form a key part of a more stable global payments system.
What are the key issues on the minds of Canadians?
The people I talk to are all increasingly worried about their quality of life, their futures and those of their kids. Canadians trust government to resolve those issues. But governments have let them down. You can see this in three key issues: pipelines, free trade and taxes.
On the Trans Mountain pipeline governments at various levels created a slew of burdensome regulations that impeded the development of a promising energy resource. Then to “solve” the problem that it created, the Trudeau administration wants to invest billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
As for the trade “wars” – there is an argument that they are not really “wars” as such. They are just an excuse for governments to raise taxes (which they call “protective tariffs”) and to pick winners and losers in the economy. For example, the Trump Administration gets to protect US steel producers and the Trudeau Administration protects dairy farmers. In short, deals are made in the backrooms and consumers lose. It’s crony socialism of the worst sort.
It sounds like you aren’t a big believer in government?
People have a fundamental misunderstanding that government is there to help. That is only partly true. Government, like corporations, will help …but they help themselves first. That’s why we need rigid checks and balances. Sadly, these have been eroding.
As a result, governments in Canada and around the world have been growing both in real terms and as a percentage of GDP. Governments get away with this through their control of the public education system which, over 12 years, tells kids that governments can solve any problem.
However governments increasingly ARE the problem. We have all heard stories about “dangerous baby-walkers,” bans on high diving boards and kids’ lemonade stands being shut down. These actions stifle innovation, creativity and productivity. We’d change course on all these issues.
You talked earlier about monetary policy. Is Canada on the right track?
Canada gets a lot of credit for its strong financial system. But we need to be careful. Artificial low interest rates have been a disaster. They provide a huge disincentive to save and make it hard for pension plans to earn the funds they need to stay afloat.
Worse artificially low rates have encouraged Canadian government, businesses and individuals to rack up nearly $6 trillion dollars in debt. That works out to more than $160,000 per person or $644,000 for each family of four. If interest rates had been set by the free markets, Canadians would have less debt, sounder pensions and more savings. The recent sale of Canada’s emergency gold reserves provides a key sign of the Trudeau Government’s increasing recklessness with public finances. Canada is now the only G7 nation without any central bank gold holdings.