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David Clement Targets Harper’s Fiscal Underbelly in Libertarian Candidacy

By: Yaël Ossowski - @YaelOss - Oct 7, 2015, 7:16 pm
David Clement believes the Canadian Libertarian Party can continue to attract disgruntled conservative voters.
Clement believes Canada’s Libertarian Party can continue to attract disgruntled conservative voters. (David Clement)

How often do you find a Canadian politician willing to criticize both intervention in the Middle East and the Dairy Commission in the same breath? At least for the Libertarian Party of Canada, they’re two issues which have more in common than one might think.

Whether it’s calling for scaling back bombing campaigns or the end of lactose subsidies, David Clement —  candidate for the riding (electoral district) of Oakville Burlington-North, just outside Toronto — says his party gives a voice to those skeptical about government intervention in Canadians’ private lives.

Headed up by firefighter and environmental-activist Tim Moen of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the Libertarian Party has an uphill battle before the federal election due to take place on October 19. It has fielded 71 candidates in electoral ridings, making it only the sixth largest political party in Canada.

“There are a lot of people who are very tired of settling,” Clement told me in an interview. “People become very intrigued by the idea of a party that is fiscally responsible and socially liberal, or socially tolerant.”

Clement, an entrepreneurial 20-something who last ran for Ontario’s provincial parliament in 2014, has since busied himself building a political-rating app, and calls himself a passionate classical liberal. Considering that the confederation of Canada has long been dominated federally by the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party, since its founding in 1867, the path for a libertarian political party is a tall order.

Furthermore, Canada has been ruled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party for the better part of a decade, using budget-wise rhetoric to placate fiscal conservatives. But Clement says they haven’t earned their economic smugness.

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“We’re economically conservative. They’re not. That’s the biggest difference,” Clement said. “They’ve added [CAN]$180 billion to our national debt, most of it during a majority government.”

On account of that poor performance, he says the Libertarian Party has attracted disgruntled conservative voters, old Reform Party voters, and many who’ve become disillusioned with the oscillating progressive views of the New Democratic and Liberal Parties.

The Conservative Party of Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, turned the surpluses of the late 1990s and early 2000s into a string of deficits. (Fraser Institute)
Federal deficits (-) and surpluses (+) in Canadian dollars. The Conservatives, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, turned the surpluses of the late 1990s and early 2000s into a string of deficits. (Fraser Institute)
Yaël Ossowski Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, informational entrepreneur, and Senior Development Officer for Students For Liberty. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria. Follow @YaelOss and on his website Yael.ca. Read his featured PanAm Post column, "Question the Narrative."