Libertarian Party surges in Canada

1:00 pm - December 16th 2009

by Don Paskini    

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The province of Alberta in Canada has for many years been a Conservative stronghold. In last year’s elections, the governing Progressive Conservatives got 53% of the vote.

But at the end of 2009, the Conservatives are trailing a new party called the Wildrose Alliance. The Alliance includes both libertarian and socially conservative factions, and is led by libertarian Danielle Smith, the former Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Recent polls in the province put the Alliance on 39%, ahead of the Conservatives and Liberals on 25% and the New Democratic Party on 9%.

The main policies of the Alliance are:

Minimal taxes (raising the basic exemption to $20,000, eliminating health care premiums, reducing corporate taxes, and building the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund with the object of eventually being able to replace personal tax revenue with investment revenue)

Smaller, efficient government (allowing governance and service delivery at the municipal and community level as much as possible, reducing government bureaucracy and unnecessary programs, and reducing government spending to a per capita rate comparable to other Canadian provinces)

Free market economics (recognizing existing signed oil sands agreements, enacting a market-based royalty framework that protects the ability of energy companies to grow the Alberta economy, establishing a maximum royalty rate on a per well basis at no higher than 37%, and recognizing that higher royalties in the conventional sector are inappropriate if gas prices are below $7.50/mcf and oil is below $75/barrel)

Democratic reform (establishing set election dates every four years, allowing for citizen initiatives via referendums, and enacting the right to recall elected officials)

Reclaiming provincial responsibilities from Ottawa


The strongest supporters of the Alliance are those over 55 (51% support), people earning $100,000 or more (46%), and people with high school or fewer qualifications (45%). Its support is lower amongst 18-34 year olds (23%), people who earn less than $50,000 (34%) and people with university degrees (30%). This means that it is roughly 1,000 times more popular than its sister party, the Libertarian Party UK.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Libertarians

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Reader comments

Remind me not to move to Alberta, then.

Where Alberta leads…??!!

LPUK will never get anywhere as long as the libertarian wing of the Tories remains loyal. Plus the longer-established UKIP is trying to promote itself as a libertarian party.

4. Left Not Liberal

Another thing – alonside seal clubbing, Celine Dion and Due South – to add to Canada’s list of shame.

Another thing – alonside seal clubbing, Celine Dion and Due South – to add to Canada’s list of shame.

You forgot Avril Lavigne and Shania Twain…

6. Dick the Prick

To be fair South Park is jolly good.

I like Shania Twain and seal clubbing…….

About every fourty years or so, Alberta seems to elect a new right-wing party to rule it for the next fourty years. Before the PC’s it was Social Credit. No implications for anything outside Alberta – and, of course, WRA supporters will continue to vote Tory in federal elections.

Ah, Alberta, also known as Jesusland North.

As Al says this is part of a recurrent cycle in Albertan politics.

I quite like the way that politics in Canada is distinct between local and federal levels, the federal parties don’t stand in provincial elections and the provincial parties are fully independent entities. It seems to result in local politics that doesn’t simply reflect the fortunes of the national parties whereas in Britain when a national party is unpopular they get wiped out locally.

11. the a&e charge nurse

I must admit I was astonished when I discovered the UK Libertarian party nominated a spotty A-level student to stand at the Norwich bi-election.

Is the strategic deployment of loquacious teenagers really the best way forward for a fledgling political force?

That’s interesting Al – I never knew that a Social Credit group (I presume meaning as in that Douglas bloke) had actually won anything.

The Socreds held power in both Alberta and British Columbia for many years.
The rise of the Wildrose probably stems (pardon the pun) from disillusionment with current Conservative leftwing drift. Federal PM Harper won’t re-open the abortion or pervert marriage debates, and has wobbled back and forth on the global warming panic.
Albertans are good sorts, no time for trendy lefty liberal junk, prefering ti think for themselves and say what they think – which is what the human rights kangaroo courts in Canada are destroying,

12 – they won power but didn’t implement any policies that Major Douglas would have approved of, although I think they did make some sort of attempt at a (illegal) national dividend. Good thing really seeing as the whole idea was cranky.

Hi from Alberta. I’m amazed you are blogging on this. Is it really interesting?

You could not squeeze a credit card between the ideologies of the Alberta Conservatives and the Wild Rose party, either provincially or federally. They are both libertarian. The reason that the Wild Rose party is gaining is support is because of maladministration by the Conservatives at a local level, for example the roll out of the H1N1 vaccine was a complete cock-up. Alberta has a population of less than 4 million, so this is of a little less significance internationally than a power struggle in the Greater London Authority.

This has almost no significance for Canada’s federal politics. Federal political parties are independent of the provincial parties and electors don’t always vote for the same party at provincial and federal levels. Alberta has a population of less than 4 million, so this is of slightly less significance internationally than a power struggle in the Greater London Authority.

And I apologise for the poor editing of the above comment. I pressed submit before I should have done.

There is no political party of note with libertarian views in Canada. It is true that Conservatives, Federally in Canada and Provincially in Alberta, have sometimes campaigned from a slightly libertarian (i.e. fiscal conservative) perspective. However, as soon as elected they go through a Metamorphosis and throw any libertarian views they may once have had to the wind. In fact in the last 30 years, Conservative Governments in Canada have tended to tax more, spend more, and borrow more that their apparently more left wing liberal opponents.

New parties in Alberta is nothing of note, don’t forget it was the stronghold of the Reform party when it launched in the 80’s as well. So some new right-wing party there is hardly a matter for excitment. Even less so when the party isn’t new, is only doing well in opinion polls in one small province on the back of a by-election win. Talk about news.

Indeed, the project largely seems to consist of former Reform party members who don’t like that the new national conservative party isn’t excessivly concerned with Western Canada, and not being part of the political centre nearly so much. Shock horror, party members who dislike merger form own party, more at 10.

Furthermore, its not even running nationally at the moment. Its not like regional parties that don’t run federally would be new in Canada- there are already the Yukon and Saskatchewan parties which, while linked to the mainstream, are seperate.

So… no news gets a LibCon post? Was this supposed to be making fun of LPUK? Really, really pointless post.

Just how are free market (fiscal conservative), small government and democratic reform specifically libertarian? That’s like say nationalisation, disestablishmentarianism and abolition of titles is specifically anarchist… I presume that the libertarian British Liberal Democrat party (which claims to support these objectives at the moment) is being ignored in all this.

I think any party which “includes both libertarian and socially conservative factions” might be incapable of being described as properly libertarian – for those who don’t know, social conservatism is the enemy of libertarianism as much as state control. It doesn’t matter who is constraining your freedom of action; it matters that your freedom is constrained.

I have to agree with tinter, but just to comment on what watchman has said – “Just how are free market (fiscal conservative), small government and democratic reform specifically libertarian?”. Watchman, these are the policies that the old Reform Party in Canada promoted while in opposition. Reform amalgamated with another group to form the present Conservative Party. When referring to the reform wing of this new conservative party, the press sometimes describes this wing as having a libertarian tint on fiscal matters – if this definition is wrong, I apologize.

It is true that there is a lot of hypocrisy in Canadian politics, and whether Reform would ever have carried-out its often stated policy (in opposition) had it achieved power is another question. As some may know I am involved in pursuing justice on a huge human rights and civil liberties issue (the UK’s parliamentary JCHR Committee is aware of it). In pursuing this I have had a two way correspondence with Mr. Preston Manning, the founder and leader of Reform, who also spent a decade as Opposition Leader in Canada’s Parliament. The gist is that I have been asking Mr. Manning to explain how he can reconcile Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apparent position on civil liberties and democracy, with the position he himself appeared to hold when in opposition.

But as any UK Parliamentarian can tell you that, when it comes to civil liberties and human rights, hypocrisy is not unique to Canada.

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