CanadaVOTES: Libertarian John Kittridge in St. Paul's
Monday, October 13, 2008
In an attempt to speak with as many candidates as possible during the 2008 Canadian federal election, Wikinews has talked via email with John Kittredge. John is a candidate in Toronto, Ontario's St. Paul riding, running under the Libertarian Party banner. Libertarians are a minor, registered political party; they are looking to earn their first ever seat in the House of Commons.
Incumbent Carolyn Bennett of the Liberals is running against Libertarian Kittridge, Conservative Heather Jewell, New Democrat Anita Agrawal, and Justin Erdman, a Green. Bennett was the Minister of Health under previous Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government. Since it was created in 1935, the riding has been batted about between the Liberals and the now defunct Progessive Conservative party.
The following is an interview with Mr. Kittridge, conducted via email. The interview has had very limited editing, to eliminate in-text mentions of website addresses, but is otherwise left exactly as sent to Wikinews.
Why are you running for political office, why at the federal level, why this party, and why in this riding?
- The mono-focus of our Party at both the Federal and Provincial level is less—MUCH less—government. I have been a member of various provincial and federal Libertarian Parties for almost 40 years and am committed to the proposition that "less government is better government." I have observed the steady degradation of the Canadian character, the increasing limitation of our independence and the erosion of our economy as a result of inexorable "nanny state" control over the years. I want positive change and a better future with more self-reliance, more opportunity and an option-filled environment for the residents of St Paul, for all Canadians and, as a consequence for myself, my family and especially for my two-year old grandson.
- St. Paul's because it is an intensely interesting collection of neighborhoods full of passionate people who care. I respect my constituents and feel every one of them deserves a much better framework in which to express and achieve their potential than the pap offered by the mainline parties to buy their votes. Unfortunately most of them feel that more government, more regulations, more tax spending, more direction and fewer options constitute the solution to any and all of their concerns.
- Like other Libertarians, I run to broaden the awareness of the less government option and of its desirability and practicality - also to deepen the debate and stimulate the people I talk with to think about a new way of doing things.
Previous to this campaign, have you been politically involved? How will you apply your previous work/volunteer/life experience to serving your constituents?
- I ran as a Libertarian in last fall's Ontario Provincial election but had not been particularly active before that other than as a party member. My day job is management consulting. I work in Canada and internationally with large clients, both public and private, to improve their processes and performance. I bring this results-focused, real-world perspective to the less-government debate. In the unlikely event of election, I would bring it to Ottawa - much in need of a house-cleaning and a strong dose of efficiency and effectiveness.
As you campaign around your riding, it's likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters, than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding? What would you and your party do to address these issues?
- People in St Paul's seem to be most concerned about the economy (and pensions), health care and the environment.
- The economy would benefit from lower taxes, less government spending and meddling. Entrepreneurship could flourish and the economy grow. The political decision-making process cannot effectively be used to manage an economy. Libertarians would cease the pandering for votes, stop all corporate welfare, allow researchers and new business creators to benefit from their achievements (eliminating capital gains and dividend taxation among other things), dramatically simplify regulations, eliminate the restrictions on foreign investment in Canada, eliminate marketing boards, cut the civil service bureaucracy, etc. etc., etc. Short term, the concentration would be waste, dysfunctional and inappropriate programme spending and efficiency (easy targets in this environment). Longer term a broader and deeper elimination of programmes and an opening up of the market place to more options, competitors and innovators.
- Health care, in particular will benefit from new options, competition and an arena for open innovation. There is no moral, ethical, economic or technical justification for continuing to criminalize the open provision of health care options. Too many of our vulnerable parents, children, spouses, friends and neighbours are at risk to ignore the quality of care any longer simply to ensure that all Canadians have access to the same (poor) execution.
- The environment is somewhat different.
- Where pollution and other environmental degradation is at issue we consider the problem in two aspects: (i) government controlled environment (crown lands, waterways, underground mineral rights, airspace, 200-mile-limit ocean waters off our coastline, etc.) and (ii) private property.
- With respect to (i) Canadians and all other statist countries suffer the typical (and inevitable) "tragedy of the commons." (When everybody owns it nobody owns it and it is treated accordingly. If and when legislation is passed to control it, the regulations are politically designed, favour special interest groups for political gain and the associated shenanigans produce an even worse outcome than existed prior to action being taken.) Hence clear-cutting, hence goldmine tailings in beautiful rivers, hence irrigation scemes [sic] despoiling wetlands, etc., etc.!
- Real owners care AND are interested in the long term to cover their children's children or their corporation's future growth and success! Libertarians would sell these assets and create an ownership environment that would foster environmentalism, conservation and rational exploitation and / or enjoyment of natural resources.
- With respect to (ii) our laws are adequate (or should be and certainly can be made to be) to protect private property from polluters and despoilers, whether individuals or corporations. Unfortunately they currently are not adequate to protect us from our own government's encroachment, its' pandering of rent seekers, or its' political decision making. Hence pig farms in your back yard, hence mineshafts sunk in your back forty, hence a high rise or monster home erected across the street, etc., etc.!
- Proper government provides an even playing field, applies the same rules to all players and dispenses justice even-handedly, quickly and appropriately. Libertarians would ensure that the relevant laws are actually applied and, in those areas of the regulations where change is required to catch up to technology, to cover omissions or to revise poorly structured statutes we would have it done.
- Specifically with respect to atmospheric warming and CO2, once the pertinent regulatory environment had been tightened as noted above we would encouage cases to be brought to court in order to resolve the claims made and the degree to which action is indicated. The current state of the debate has been singularly one-sided and lacking of the true spirit and freedom of scientific inquiry. It would help to clarify it before any government (Liberal, Conservative, NDP or Green) tears the heart out of the economy of the country by taking draconian steps that may not even address the root cause of their concerns.
- The programme suggestions currently featured in other party platforms would do more harm than good. Taxes are distorting and disruptive. Cap and trade encourages abuse. Government programs of redistribution inevitably fall under the spell of political decision making and are generally abused, if not corrupted outright. Setting emission levels at something that equates to about 40+% lower than today's is to irresponsibly and knowingly lie to Canadians. Car emissions levels must be driven by cost-benefit considerations and cannot be dictated in an environment of unceretainty [sic] without, once again, distorting outcomes.
- We would do none of these things, even if the jury weren't still out on fundamental issues such as the causes and direction of atmospheric warming, the role of human produced CO2 (the "inverse," after all, of the breath of life, O2), the possibility and potential impact of human CO2 control and its real cost. Libertarians would limit their involvement, as noted above, to providing a framework within which the issue could be resolved and addressed rationally by all the stakeholders.
Are there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?
- Most people know very little about the party, the leader, myself or our platform. But one common misconception is that we are "extreme right wing." We are not! Libertarians want to eliminate most of government involvement in both our economic and personal lives, letting Canadians live as free individuals and free traders. No rightist would ever subscribe to our principles. (Our principles are readily available on our web site.)
There are more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?
- The digital alternatives are proving effective for us. We are a "low" (generally "no") budget organization / campaign. The various web options are an economical and practical way to spread our message and we have had, for us, a good electronic response.