Bulletin Vol.25 No. 4
It was a pleasant day for a drive to Caledon Hills, cloudy with sunny breaks. It was a great day for visiting with fellow libertarians and enjoying good food. Garret Pittenger and Dr. “Keith” were our hosts at their home in the countryside. Chef Garret grilled hamburgers and sausages to perfection. Salad and potato chips were available as well as wine, beer, juice and soft drinks to satisfy everyone’s appetite.
About 20 people enjoyed the afternoon, with one, James Wiebe coming all the way from Windsor. He brought with him, from St. Catherines, James and Laura Gerow, their daughter and her friend.
This was the seventh year for our BBQ. If you missed it, make a point to reserve the first Sunday next May for the eighth annual BBQ.
The Libertarian Party of Canada held its first Convention since 1996 at the Ramada Inn near highways 401 and 404 on May 21-22. About 30 people attended.
The speakers included Michael Cloud, a widely read author and seminar leader; Jan Narveson, Professor of Philosophy (University of Waterloo) and author of several libertarian books (Including The Libertarian Idea); Mark Mullins, Director of Ontario Policy Studies of the Fraser Institute: and Neil Cameron, a professor specializing in the history of science and ideas and formerly an elected MPP with the Equality Party (PQ).
Michael Cloud is an accomplished motivational speaker. He gave two talks that generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst the delegates.
Elections were held on Sunday, with lots of candidates for most positions. Jean Serge Brisson was elected Leader and Adriana Civardi Deputy Leader. The new Board of Directors is Francis Bedard, George Dance, Drew Dorweiler, Dave Kempster, Alan Mercer, Jan Narveson, John Shaw and Earl Wertheimer. Sam Cino, Paolo Fabrizio, Michael McHugh, Jim McIntosh and Steve Ryan were elected to the Ethics Committee.
Thanks to Peter Cuff for arranging some of the speakers. And a special vote of thanks to John Shaw for organizing the rest of the convention.
I note one constant in the antics of the most recent organized crime rings vying for power in the federal parliament in Ottawa. That is the backdrop of the official flag of Canada in front of which the lying, thieving politicians parade and unctuously promote their latest fraud on the benighted public. For me, this banner of the early 60's has become sullied and tainted beyond redemption by its association with the government of Canada. It is the banner under which the Canadian state issues its never ending and ever more numerous threats and demands. It is the banner under which it confiscates and seizes an ever growing part of our production. It is the banner under which the stolen loot is squandered and distributed to those favoured by the state and its functionaries while the rest make do with less and struggle ever more to obey its edicts and feed its voracious appetite.
I propose that our party spearhead the creation and promotion of an alternate flag of Canada associated with liberty and the honourable society which will result when the public experiences true liberty, not to be confused with democracy. The Canadian state will continue to fly its flag and those who continue to have warm feelings or wish to curry favour with it will do likewise, but there is no reason the rest of us should not have a flag which represents a noble vision.
I have limited artistic talent, but nonetheless have given some thought to the design of a new alternate flag. My first impulse was a representation which is the antithesis of the official flag. The government flag consists of a stylized constrained red maple leaf suffering from terminal rigor mortis bounded by symbolic red prison bars, all on white background. The antithesis would be a living maple leaf from a real tree on simple plain white background. However, I have had a terrible thought. If the alternate flag becomes sufficiently popular, the government of Canada might appropriate it and start flying it over its buildings, thereby destroying its intended purpose. So, I think we will need to have an anti-state element in the flag. For example, a maple leaf rising over the symbolic broken chains of the state, or a flag actually incorporating the word liberty.
I invite anyone out there excited by the idea of a clean new flag to submit their banners to us. You will have to relinquish copyright and take comfort in the possibility that, in a world which comes to value liberty, your flag may ultimately be flown by millions, with you as the acknowledged creator. Ideally, I would like to see its public introduction at our party Convention later this year on Saturday, November 5th. Depending on the response, you may have the best chance of acceptance if you meet this deadline. Have fun with it. Let your imagination run wild.
On Victoria Day weekend at the Ramada Inn in Toronto (in the appropriately named Renaissance Ballroom), the Libertarian Party of Canada reemerged on the Canadian political scene. The party, which won back ‘registered’ status (lost in 1996) in the 2004 federal election, once again has a duly constituted - not to mention active and enthusiastic - leadership and Board of Directors, and (by the time you read this) a functioning Executive as well.
Being ‘registered’ means that the LPC, like our party, issues receipts for donations, which donors can use to claim income tax credits of up to 75%. Those credits are a powerful tool for maximize one’s political investments: $1 of after-tax income is leveraged into as much as $4 worth of benefit for the candidate or party of one’s choice. For the same reasons that those concerned about their financial future should use the tax advantages of RRSPs to maximize their investment in it - those concerned about their political future should use the tax advantages of political donations to maximize their investment in it. For those reasons, tax credits are attractive to all parties and politically concerned citizens.
Libertarians in particular have a second reason to value and exploit political tax credits. Had we not donated, the government would have spent the $3 at its own discretion. We would have had no say in how, on which programs and services, it was spent. They might not even be services that we want government to be providing; but what we wanted would make no difference.
In contrast, when we donated we redirected that $3 to satisfying our own goal: helping the candidate or party of our choice. We recaptured that $3 from the government and restored it to its owner to spend as he chooses. That’s a small, but real, blow for justice, freedom, and property rights..
But aren’t tax credits a subsidy? Not at all. No one ever receives a tax credit greater than the amount of his own taxes; each person’s credit comes out of his own money. Some argue that, because credits reduce the taxes that some pay, government then has to tax others more to cover its costs. But that assumes that a government cannot reduce its costs - by doing less, say, or by doing the same more efficiently. So that argument fails.
Many libertarians complain of high taxes - but all too few take advantage of tax credits to recapture their tax money for their own purposes. For some, that’s because high taxes are a real problem: they simply cannot afford to take full advantage of the 75% credit. But that is no reason to not take advantage at all. Donating just $10 per month allows a libertarian to recapture $90 of his tax money each year - a small win, but a win all the same. .
The rational course of action, for libertarians who can afford it, looks like taking full advantage of political tax credits by donating right up to the 75% limit. Provincially, that limit now stands at $400: which means one can both support our party or candidates to the tune of $400, and recapture $300 of one’s tax money, for a net investment of just $100. With the re-registration of the LPC (which issues separate credits against federal income tax), that limit increases for libertarians by a further $400: now one can leverage an investment of $200 into both $800 of support for the libertarian movement, and a $600 cut in the government’s ill-gotten gains.
That gives us all a splendid opportunity to promote libertarianism in two ways at once - by supporting libertarian platforms and principles, and by cutting our support of wasteful, inefficient (even harmful!) government programs - at minimal relative cost. .It benefits all of us to correctly perceive that opportunity and to take full advantage of it.
We Canadians labour under an assumption that we have an admirable representative governmental system, making us one of the leading "democratic" countries in the world. In my view we are seriously misleading ourselves. I certainly feel blessed to be a Canadian; but that is in spite of, not because of, our parliamentary system. In my view our dysfunctional governmental system is a much more serious obstacle to the attainment of Libertarian objectives than the dysfunctional political parties and values whose representatives operate the levers of power.
Because I viewed our Parliament as being a really dangerous imposter in its apparent status and function, and even more because I felt rather lonely in this perception, I agreed to do an op-ed piece for the Bulletin. At this early stage in the development of our campaign literature and program it is important to identify the compelling issues.
Researching the article I was greatly pleased to discover Gordon Gibson’s book published by the Fraser Institute. Gibson is a Senior Fellow of the Institute. The book is entitled "Fixing Canadian Democracy" and is priced at $20. I have purchased a copy, but the first chapter is available on line and I want to quote extensively from that chapter as Gibson explains so much more clearly than I can just how serious the problem is. What follows is a series of excerpts from the book.
"Essentially, all central government postures, from foreign and defence policy, through banking legislation, issues of our relationship with the United States, health policy, and to environmental issues, stem not from open and informed public debate, but rather from the behind-closed-doors accommodation of a governing elite to polling data."
"And thought it may seem a hopelessly naive view, surely government should be about something more than being re-elected."
"The state of our democratic debate is such that tough-minded and realistic discussion in some areas is simply not allowed."
"Canadian democracy can be much improved. My own analysis recognizes three "levels" of democracy. The first is one in which the voters get to choose the people who, in turn, decide who is the all-powerful boss. That person effectively runs the government as they see fit for the next four or so years, more or less as an elected dictatorship"
"The prime minister unilaterally and with no check appoints the heads of all government departments and all deputy heads, and they do what they are told. He or she appoints all senators, and more importantly all of the judges of the Supreme Court, which says what is legal in this country, and adjudicates disputes with the provinces (who have no say in the tribunal).
“The prime minister must sign all significant legislation for it to have any chance of passage in the House of Commons. He or she (through agents) manages the business of the House, and allocates time, permission for foreign travel, and even office space.
“The prime minister, with no hindrance, appoints the heads of the Bank of Canada, the CBC, the CRTC, the ethics commissioner (who reports to him!), all ambassadors, the head of the national police, the chief of staff of the military, and dozens of other significant jobs. He or she must approve of all tax and expenditure decisions. While in theory Parliament has the power to control some of this, it never does. "Four-year elected dictator" is an accurate description, except in rare periods of minority government.".
As I said, Gibson says it much better than I. In my opinion (not usually humble enough) our parliamentary system is the most urgent and important problem to be addressed in our next platform. It is difficult for me to believe that Canadians would not now (in the face of the Adscam scandal and national disgrace) be attracted to a party offering a credible hope for change. Our challenge is to attain that credibility.
This week will be the forth time I’ve read this book. I don't know every line in the book, far from it, but for some reason it always helps me out. I will be there talking when bang my brain tells my lips to say something. That something comes out pretty smart, right from my lips something smart! That’s a new and good feeling.
Michael Cloud has come up with a winner not just for the hardcore Libertarian like me but for all kinds of Libertarians. This powerful book can help you open people’s hearts and minds to Liberty. Michael’s book has inspired me to get out and be active. It motivates you to get out there and not to wait for someone else to do it when you can do it now.
A powerful moment in the book for me is when Michael wrote, "Do you think government is too big, about the right size, or to small? Do you think taxes are too low, about the right amount, or too high? Do you have too much freedom, about the right amount of freedom, or too little freedom?"
I find myself using these questions a lot and finding it easier to start talking about liberty and, more importantly, the Ontario Libertarian Party.
When I feel that I'm not doing well for our party or that I can't come up with that perfect answer I remember Michael Cloud’s book and my favorite quote. "I'm not a saint in admitting ignorance or confusion. I'm a recovering sinner." I've learned that it’s okay to say, "I don't know" or "I don't get it" when I don't have the answer. Now I don't get so down. I look up and say I don't know but I will find out for you if you like.
Michael taught me that when something doesn't work move on and try something else. Keep trying until you find something that works. Plenty of things in this book will help you but more than that, it will make you feel more at ease talking about liberty and, more important, talking about the Ontario Libertarian Party.
You can buy a copy from Advocates for Self Government (www.self-gov.org) for $15 US plus shipping.
The following draft of the Party’s Environmental Policy Paper was prepared by Alan Mercer. Interested parties are invited to send their comments by email to Alan at or mail your comments to the Party at 7-91 Rylander Blvd, box 121, Scarborough, ON M 1B 5M5.
A Libertarian government would introduce a system in which owners have full control of their property to the extent that their actions do not infringe on the rights of others.
Pollution of another person’s property, including their body, is a violation of individual rights. Pollutants can include noise, odours, toxic and non-toxic substances, radiation, litter and noxious weeds. Polluters must be held strictly liable for the harm they cause to health and property, and they should be required to cease the pollution and make restitution to the injured party for all costs.
A libertarian system of restorative justice would be costly for offenders, and would have a powerful deterrent effect. However, this would not be a sufficient reform, as another major weakness in the current system is the prevalence of public property.
Private ownership of property leads to responsible maintenance of that property. The owner has invested in it, so he evaluates the costs of his own actions and the actions of those to whom he rents. With publicly owned land, there is little incentive for users to respect what they use.
Only 11% of land in Ontario is privately owned and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources holds jurisdiction over 88 percent of Ontario's forests. With a Libertarian government, this situation would be corrected. Public lands would be auctioned off to private individuals, businesses and groups who could make use of them, including First Nations communities.
Today when a company dumps toxins in a lake, the government threatens them with fines. In a libertarian system, lakes would be divided among property owners for fish and other resources, and those owners would be much more motivated to detect pollution and take action.
Property rights need to be defined in more detail, especially in the case of air and water. The water that flows above and under the ground can be described in terms of property because a certain proportion of it can be used by us and belongs to us, and another proportion can be used by others and belongs to them. Both the air and water flow into and out of a definite space that is defined as our property.
Ownership of rivers follows the riparian system in Ontario, which is a sound common-law system of ownership based on usage. Unfortunately, a comprehensive permit system has been created, which enables the provincial government to supervise all major consumptive uses of water.
Natural resources, including minerals, would become the property of those who access them, based on agreements with landowners who would control the source. Private owners of parks and beaches could open them to the public. There would also be private hunting and nature reserves in which owners had a vested interest in protecting endangered species.
In a libertarian system, land use will be determined by owners and not by governments! Governments will not be able to override the decisions of owners in the interest of revenues or “green space”. No one except the owner will decide whether he is doing too much with his resources or too little. Libertarians will repeal the numerous oppressive land management laws such as the Greenbelt Act, which prevent property owners from developing their property as they wish.
Since pollution would be costly for violators, respect for the health and property of others would be much more common. Property owners would pay responsible waste management services to remove all kinds of waste. The disposal rate for a particular material would reflect the reality of real costs and would tend to affect the buying habits of consumers. In turn, consumers would cause manufacturers to reconsider their materials.
A genuine free market would be a major factor in controlling pollution. Beach-goers, for example, care about pollutants in the water and sand. Also, consumers are interested in how their foods are produced. There would be more consumer services to provide information about the safety of products. Insurance companies would offer better deals for responsible owners to cover possible infractions.
Agreements among neighbours and residents would be another factor that would replace top-down regulations. Property owners and tenants would make contracts concerning levels of pesticide use. Airports and airlines would deal with property owners directly and pay them to allow a specified level of noise onto their property.
In a libertarian society, each person will own his own life and will be free to decide the type and quantity of substances he is willing to expose himself to. In order to avoid liability, owners will be pushed to make employees, residents and customers aware of this information.
A libertarian society will empower people to be aware of their own environment. They would test their own air, soil and water (using companies that specialize in testing), and would take charge of what goes into their bodies and homes. They would decide what they could and could not live with.
Currently, there are serious problems with air pollution in Ontario. For automobile pollutants, property owners would complain to those who managed highways and roads - whether public or private. The companies that replace the Ministry of Transportation could be sued for pollution. Property owners living adjacent to the road could sign contracts to allow a certain level of air and noise pollution in exchange for fees or shares in the company. Those who administered roads would be stricter with drivers, and would require them to pay higher fees unless they switched to cleaner fuels and technologies.
Today there is a lot of hot air about respecting nature, but there is no respect for the nature of man, who requires freedom to act and choose. “Green-house gases“, such as carbon dioxide, which are blamed for global earth-warming are a natural by-product of living and breathing human beings. Individuals must be free to do what they think is best for their own well-being, and that includes burning fuels to heat their homes and to run their vehicles and businesses.