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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does Canada have a “Leave Us Alone Coalition”?

In the latest issue of Reason Magazine (not yet online), the maestro of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” Grover Norquist, makes the case that his longstanding “Leave Us Alone Coalition” is evidence that the individualist spirit in American politics still exists.

Norquist is a diehard Reagan Republican who is not afraid to criticize his own party. He has run Americans for Tax Reform since 1985, but is best known for orchestrating the infamous weekly “Wednesday Meeting” of the leaders of the various pro-freedom advocacy groups that make up what he calls the “Leave Us Alone Coalition.”

Norquist describes the coalition as such:

“The idea of the Leave Us Alone Coalition is that everybody is there because on the issue that moves their vote – not all issues; they’re not all libertarians – but on the issue that moves their vote, what they want from the government is to be left alone. So around a table [are] the guys who want their money left alone, their faith left alone, their homeschooling left alone. They’re in on one issue, the one they vote on.”

Norquist is vigilant about keeping this “Leave Us Alone Coalition” loyal to the Republican Party and away from the Libertarian Party, making him a powerful force in American conservative politics.

So does Canada have a Grover Norquist or a “Leave Us Alone Coalition” of highly motivated pro-freedom activists and voters? And to whom are these people loyal?

UPDATE - July 24, 2008

In trying to identify Canada’s “Leave Us Alone Coalition,” those single-issue advocacy organizations that represent voters who want the government to leave them alone, one example comes immediately to mind -- marijuana law reformers.

These people are highly motivated to vote on this issue, and they want little more then to be left alone by the government to peacefully enjoy their drug of choice. They are also easy to identify. Marc Emery is the self-annointed Prince of Pot and the de facto leader of the marijuana people. Through his magazine Cannabis Culture and his BC Marijuana Party, Emery can reliably deliver this constituency to a deserving federal political party or candidate.

Emery has decided to give his support to the Libertarian Party of Canada, by the way. In an interview with the Western Standard, Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young said “We have finite policing resources – and the time we spend prosecuting people for using marijuana, is time taken away from protecting people from violent crimes.” He also promises to work against the extradition of Emery, who faces charges in the US related to selling marijuana seeds.

So what would it mean to own the marijuana law reform vote? It’s hard to say. CBC reported in 2004 that “45 per cent of Canadians have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. About 70 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 reported using the substance.”

That’s a lot of people who can’t be happy with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s $64 million drug war initiative, but what percentage, if pushed, would take marijuana law reform to the polls? And how does the Libertarian Party keep these people away from Dana Larsen and the NDP, for instance?

UPDATE - July 25, 2008

My second choice for membership in the “Leave Us Alone Coalition” are pro-lifers.

Don’t scoff.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s Morgentaler decision of 1988 struck down Canada’s abortion law and mobilized the pro-life movement into a defensive battle to restore limits to abortion. This battle was led by Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada who Christian right historian Dr. Michael Wagner calls the “sharpest mind in the country, at least from a conservative Christian perspective.”

REAL Women of Canada is not a libertarian-minded organization. They support a range of government initiatives to engineer society in their conservative image and control behaviour that they believe is destructive to mainstream culture. Recently, for instance, the organization has supported Harper’s $64 million investment in the war on drugs, and has been pushing for the passage of Bill C-10, legislation that would give new powers to the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to films that contain subject matter contrary to the public policy objectives of the government.

Despite this, I’m convinced that pro-lifers would be willing to vote for, and rally around, a political party that promised to remove abortion as an insured public health care service, even if this party was not prepared to deliver on such things as the continuation of the drug war or the further regulation of film and video content.

Now, to whom are pro-lifers loyal? Anecdotally, it seems to me that pro-life activists, and pro-lifers who vote on the abortion issue above all others, are loyal to the Conservatives. But should they be?

Harper has said that he would “oppose any bill limiting provincial funding to abortion services.”

In an interview with the Western Standard, Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young said, by contrast, “I would immediately take steps to remove all federal funding for abortion. We can go a long way to respecting the deeply held views of pro-life Canadians by not forcing them to pay for a procedure they regard as murder.”

Would pro-lifers be willing to put their other issues on the political back burner and take their chances with the Libertarian Party? Would they be willing to be part of a Canadian “Leave Us Alone Coalition”? Given that abortion rights advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler just got the Order of Canada and that the most conservative Prime Minister in decades is not willing to budge on their issue, what choice do they really have?

Posted by Matthew Johnston on July 23, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink


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You know whats funny ?
When you do a reaserch on Grover Norquist...this what's appearing:

Posted by: Marc | 2008-07-24 1:04:40 AM

If we have a Grover Norquist, or a Leave Us Alone Coalition, I don't know. I think we don't, but could quite easily. I am sure there are several brilliant minds that could lead the charge.

I wonder if they really could be loyal to anything but the philosophy though.

Posted by: TM | 2008-07-24 10:41:26 AM

I agree with Dennis that pro-lifers and others can find the right political balance with the LP because libertarians don't believe in forcing people to fund and promote practices they don't agree with.
Libertarians believe in getting the state out of peoples' lives. Many people on the left and right should be attracted to the "live and let live" political philosophy.

Posted by: Alan Mercer | 2008-07-26 8:51:08 AM

Sadly, Canada seems to lack a strong and cohesive political coalition that transcends right-left divisions while advancing libertarian principles. The Fraser Institute comes close in terms of ideology, but it is a think tank geared more towards academic research rather than citizen activism.

Our political scene would benefit greatly from a coalition of activists and ordinary citizens who support free market economic policies, while also standing up for freedom of expression, civil liberties, and individual property rights. Such an organization could organize public demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns, endorse candidates, intervene in court cases, and ensure that the public is better educated about liberty-related issues.

The trick would be moving beyond the ideological divide and advancing both "left wing" policies (e.g. scrapping marijuana laws and ensuring police accountability) and "right wing" policies (e.g. ending abortion funding, restoring religious free speech, and supporting responsible firearms ownership).

I believe that most people are more libertarian than authoritarian, but end up going along with either the "right" or the "left" rather than having the courage to think independently. This leads to a political culture than compromises both personal and economic liberty.

A strong libertarian-oriented party or political interest group would give people another option, but creating one is very difficult with the context of the left-right system. For some reason, people seem content to trust the Obamas and McCains of the world than trusting themselves.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2008-07-27 4:53:02 AM

Marc is right about the marijuana issues.

I will be taking my stand before a jury this fall.

"Institutionalized Idiocy"

Go to my blogspot budoracle and see more of my true police stories "I Trusted the RCMP" and how I held the government ministers responsible "an E-mail can change the world"

The problem is I am not a one issue guy like Marc, rather our activism is more of a loose gang of individuals fighting from the base of their convictions

Posted by: Bud Oracle | 2008-08-28 9:38:27 PM

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