|Montreal, November 8, 2003 / No 132|
Last September, the CBC television public affairs show Disclosure decided to put some unpredictability back into federal politics. It chose three candidates for its political reality show, The Making of a Political Animal, a show where ordinary Canadians would have the opportunity to run for prime minister. Among the participants chosen was Paul Beaudry, a young law student at the University of Montreal and
Pick one person in Canadian politics with
whom you identify most.
PAUL BEAUDRY: The Canadian politician with whom I would identify most is Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I admire Laurier for his uncompromising stance in favour of free trade (which made him lose the federal election in 1911). Laurier understood well that the role of government wasn't to indulge in social engineering, but secure people's rights. According to him, "the role of government [is] [...] not to force action in any one direction but to remove barriers to man's own efforts to undertake personal and social improvement [...] Man must be free to seek his own improvement and be responsible for his own destiny." Unfortunately, the classical liberal principles espoused by Laurier are not seen anymore in the Canadian political scene. His beloved Liberal party has become a hotbed for socialists who use their power to impose their cranky ideas on the Canadian population (i.e. gun control, anti-tobacco laws, abusive taxation, useless welfare spending). If Canada's leaders were as devoted to liberty as Sir Wilfrid, the twentieth century would have been the century of Canada.
Q: Is there a way to repair the health care system without raising taxes?
PB: Absolutely. The best way to fix our health care system is to end the state monopoly of health care provision and let free market principles be implemented in health care. Our governments let us gamble our money in state-owned casinos, but don't even allow us to invest for our own health care. We have to stop thinking that our universal health care system is an example of social justice: it is another example of government failure. Because government bureaucrats administer the system and evaluate its quality (by publishing bogus reports like the Romanow Report), Canadians are given the illusion that it is the best in the world. Our system is ranked 30th in the world by the WHO and we are the only industrialized country which does not allow private sector input in our health care system. Even socialist France (which is ranked 1st by the WHO) and Sweden have private sector health care! Why can't we? Having market incentives in health care will promote competition and will bring down costs. And it will not be at the taxpayers' expense!
Q: How will you balance people's freedoms with the need for security, law, and order?
PB: Government's primary role is to protect our freedoms, not to trample them. The state should be tough on criminals, but crime should not be fought at the expense of civil liberties. For example, having a national gun registry, a national ID card or federal agents harassing 80-year-old grannies in airports will not improve our security, but will give the federal government more power to regulate the lives of ordinary Canadians. I'd sum up my view on freedom and security by quoting Ben Franklin: "those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty."
Q: What is your view of Canada's position in the world, and how do you distinguish it from the other candidates?
PB: During the debate we had on the show, this question was asked. My two opponents mentioned that having Canada getting more involved in the UN and in "peacekeeping" missions would give Canada a better and more important role in the international community. I don't think Canada should spend a penny on nation building and on "peace" missions. I'd rather see our government liberalize trade everywhere in the world by unilaterally lifting all tariffs and trade barriers. Free trade and commerce with all nations are the best ways to promote peace. As funny as it may seem, having McDonald's all over the globe is better for world peace than sending our troops in "peacekeeping" missions. Historically, protectionism has led to war and ethnic and tribal conflicts. By abolishing trade barriers and letting Africans, Arabs, Germans, Afghans and Canadians trade together freely, we will be a step closer to world peace!
Q: At 19 years of age, where will the wisdom to run a powerful country come from?
PB: Our current prime ministers, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, are both senior citizens, and they don't seem very wise to me! My age is not a handicap: it is an advantage. I represent a new generation of Canadians who are tired of our paternalistic welfare state. I don't claim to have the wisdom to decide what's good for other people. People can decide for themselves: they don't need government bureaucrats telling them what to do. You ask me how I plan to run a powerful country. Well, I don't. The prime minister shouldn't "run" the country. If I were prime minister, instead of planning society like a game of Risk, I would make sure our rights to property and liberty are protected. After, I'd go play golf and leave people alone.
Q: What is the most radical change you would make to the country?
PB: Our current state is, in the words of French political philosopher Frédéric Bastiat, "a great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else." The State has become a huge plundering agency where kleptocrats have the task of finding more ways of using government power to rob the people. The worst is that politicians tell us that the plundering is done for our own good! Unlike other politicians, I will talk honestly to Canadians: there is no such thing as a free lunch, so don't count on the government to give you one. Instead of promising everything to everybody, I will promise to defend people's rights to keep their hard-earned money and not be regulated by a plethora of agencies. I will treat Canadians like adults, not like irresponsible children who need to be bossed around.
Q: Why should I believe you? How are you different from the current slate of politicians that frequent Canadian politics?
PB: Many young Canadians dream of being professional hockey players. Since I was 15, I've dreamt of dismantling the Canadian welfare state! No special interests will prevent me from accomplishing my childhood dream; I will stand by my principles! Two years ago, I almost got expelled from the Quebec National Assembly during a mock parliament session, because my comments denouncing the government plunderers were embarrassing and infuriating to the bureaucrats in the Assembly! This is proof that no matter what, I will fight the status quo!
Q: Overall, how would you describe your experience on this TV show?
PB: I had a great time participating in the show. We rarely hear libertarians having success in the political arena, so I thought the show would be a great opportunity for me to bring libertarianism back into politics! My camera crew was great and we got along very well. Having a camera filming me all the time was intimidating at first, but I got used to it! Getting involved in the political process seems extremely challenging and gratifying, but I couldn't help but remember the wise words of Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely!
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