When out of power, Opposition parties say all the right things about respecting individual freedom. But once in office, they allow the temptation of power and centralized control to take over.
It’s easy to forget now, but when Justin Trudeau first ran in 2015, he often campaigned as a near-Libertarian.
Trudeau spoke about removing draconian government punishment from marijuana sales, decentralizing power that had been concentrated in the PMO, having MPs ‘represent their communities to Ottawa, not Ottawa to their communities,’ expanding access to information, and opposed Stephen Harper’s ‘heavy-handed’ governance style.
Trudeau and his advisors accurately noted that a key portion of the Conservative base, Civil-Libertarians, had been increasingly turned off by Harper.
That disillusionment was further entrenched during the campaign, when the Communist-sounding ‘snitch-line’ proposal was made, causing a backlash among many – including Libertarian-leaning Conservatives – and helping Trudeau seem more like the candidate of individual freedom.
Of course, once in office, Trudeau quickly embraced government power, with the PMO continuing to exert immense centralized control, MPs reading government lines, dissenters being booted, unelected advisors having more power than MPs, access-to-information weakened even more than under Harper, transparency reduced, taxes raised, Jody Wilson-Raybould removed for having a sense of ethics, the government pushing for control over social media content, and more.
And that doesn’t even include all that we are seeing during the Wuhan Virus pandemic, with individual freedoms under sustained erosion.
Additionally, as we’ve seen in all parties – including the Conservatives – elected MPs are routinely booted out if they don’t follow the central dictates of the party leader, with debate and dissent clearly seen as a weakness, not a strength.
In short, Canadian politics has an authoritarianism problem.
It seems the lure of government power is simply too much to resist for those who grasp it, no matter what they had previously said or promised.
That’s why I increasingly believe that – while it is important for the Liberals to be defeated – it’s not enough to simply switch teams in Ottawa and expect all will be well.
We need to relentlessly advocate for more individual freedom, more decentralization, and more trust in the self-determination of Canadians. We cannot simply keep changing who sits at the top of the power structure without realizing that the power structure itself is the problem.