Tim Moen is the current leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Having worked as a firefighter, paramedic, entrepreneur and a filmmaker, Tim is in many ways a jack of all trades. Tim has been featured by several outlets including The Huffington Post, CNN, The National Post and now joins us at The Post Millennial to discuss the liberty movement in Canada, the future of libertarianism and the party’s relationship with Maxime Bernier.
DZSURDZSA: In your speech in Red Deer, Alberta, you described yourself as a “liberty activist”. While keeping the Canadian political context in mind, what are a few of the biggest threats individual liberty in Canada is facing today?
MOEN: Taxation – Canadians are taxed at over 42% according to the Fraser Institute. This means if you were to pay your annual taxes up front every year then all your work from Jan. 1st to Jun. 7th belongs to the state. If 100% taxation is slavery (your labour completely owned by someone else) then I don’t know what we’d call 42% taxation but it wouldn’t be “freedom”. What would happen to the economy if our labour and resources went to productive means rather than the government? What would happen to families if both parents didn’t have to work to pay bills and one parent could afford to stay at home with the kids?
Central Banking – government control of the money supply is never talked about. Markets are widely recognized as optimal when it comes to most things – people with skin in the game making decisions about production competing with other producers equals better results than centralized or socialized control of the means of production. Money is one of the most important aspects of a free market and shouldn’t be entrusted to a state granted and controlled monopoly. If your wealth and productivity isn’t being robbed by taxation, it’s being robbed by the inflation of the money supply.
Trade Restrictions – we face not only barriers to international trade but inter-provincial trade as well. Buy beer across provincial lines at your own peril. Trade makes us more productive and wealthy and currently we have protectionist liberals being accused by conservatives of not being protectionist enough. Canadians all suffer as a result.
The Nanny State – we have a state that tries to provide for all our needs from the cradle to the grave and socializes the negative consequences of our bad decisions. Freedom only comes with personal responsibility. We need to be able to own not only the good consequences but the bad consequences of our actions in the world. Outsourcing the bad consequences of our actions makes us less free and makes our neighbours less free as they have to pay the price. We need to be free to make mistakes and grow as individuals.
DZSURDZSA: Maxime Bernier’s new party is set to be revealed in the middle of September. From my understanding, the decision to merge the existing Libertarian Party of Canada with Bernier’s will be put to members in the coming months. If the vote succeeds, what does the Libertarian Party have to offer to Maxime that he might not have had access to before?
MOEN: We offer infrastructure across Canada, a unified liberty vote, and the ability to issue tax receipts immediately, and therefore fundraise properly. I’m trying to determine what Maximes’ new party might offer us. We don’t care about votes as much as we care about freedom. Freedom is built on principles and beliefs inscribed on the hearts and minds of Canadians. Freedom is not gained by winning elections; it is gained by winning hearts and minds. We will trade all the votes for a few converts to liberty, but maybe Max offers us a way for votes to translate into more converts to liberty.
So Max has the profile to attract an audience and we await his message. His current platform is a kind of weak libertarian platform which is fine if it’s attached to a party of principled libertarianism that opens up deeper discussions about the role of government and connects people to the principles that Western Civilization was built on.
His current platform isn’t all that inspiring to us if it is attached to a conservative party because conservative parties typically make all sorts of excuses for statism when it comes to issues that concern them and are weak on principles that matter. So it is unclear to me how we preserve what we love and roll back the state if his platform isn’t built on top of solid libertarian bedrock. If his party has a conservative name and libertarian bones I think that most of us can live with that and see a path forward together.
DZSURDZSA: Regardless of the outcome, do you intend to run in your home riding in the 2019 election?
MOEN: I’m still weighing my options. I would like to run in a riding that has a strong libertarian zeitgeist. My focus in this coming election, assuming our party hasn’t “merged”, will be on our national messaging and national campaign. I look at Elizabeth May and the Green Party as an example to learn from. The election before May won a seat involved running candidates in the majority of Canadian ridings and a national focus. Once her party achieved enough attention she found a Green riding and they focused all their resources on that riding. So I think right now my primary focus will be fielding a full slate of candidates, supporting their efforts with messaging and training and raising our party profile publicly.
DZSURDZSA: In the last election approximately 30% of the population didn’t vote. From your experience as the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, what do you believe is preventing people from going to cast a ballot?
MOEN: Voting is super boring and pretty pointless. You get in your vehicle to go to the polling station, line up with the rest of the tax livestock and put your opinion in the tax farmers suggestion box. It’s a degrading process. The real question is what is causing 70% of people to go to the polls instead of making love to their wife, playing in the park with their kids, attending their church function, volunteering in a soup kitchen, drinking beer, watching Netflix, picking their nose or doing 1000 other things less degrading and more meaningful than voting? The answer to that question ought to scare us all.
I take low voter turnout as a hopeful sign that people are fed up with status quo and ready for a change. The philosophy of liberty ought to excite and motivate people. A vote for my party is a way to popularize the message of liberty. The more votes we get, the more people we reach with this message and the less icky you feel about participating in democracy.
DZSURDZSA: Libertarianism seems to have been more politically prominent in the U.S. than in Canada. In recent memory, the career and presidential campaign of the former congressman Ron Paul brought the liberty movement to the national stage. Do you believe that Canada has some inherent historical or political differences that make Canadian libertarianism unique from its American counterpart?
MOEN: America was formed when a bunch of libertarians shot the government. Canada was formed by authority of the Crown. From my perspective Americans seem to be far more wary of government than Canadians and more receptive to libertarian ideas. We face different challenges advancing liberty in our respective countries but libertarians are pretty much the same worldwide.
The US Libertarian Party and the Libertarian Party of Canada started at roughly the same time and they have been vehicles for advancing liberty. Our political systems are somewhat different and so the way our ideas advance is somewhat different. In the US Ron Paul ran as a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1988 before he went on to become a Republican Congressman and then a Republican presidential nominee. So certainly his time in the US LP set him up for success as a Republican.
A Ron Paul scenario is less likely in Canada where our political structure engenders more group think. Political candidates in Canada have to be endorsed by the party leader for example. Party leadership in Canada also controls who speaks in debates, who asks questions at question period, allocation of members to committee and so on. So if a Ron Paul were to emerge in the Conservative Party he would be very quickly de-platformed by his party leadership. We saw what happened to Maxime Bernier and he’s far less radical than even Rand Paul, he argued for free market milk and was neutered. Ron Paul argued for legalizing heroin and shutting down all US foreign military bases and sill had a huge platform on the Republican primary ticket.