Canadians (Sort of) Vote for Less Interventionism and More Freedom

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Canadians (Sort of) Vote for Less Interventionism and More Freedom

October 21, 2015

Well, they voted in federal elections this week for a more free market in cannabis, and for less intervention in foreign wars. They also voted for higher taxes and more environmental regulation.

As with American elections, it's impossible to point to a national election in Canada and say there is any particular “mandate” for the newly elected administration. But in this case, the new government under Trudeau has explicitly promised less interventionism in foreign policy, and legalization of recreational marijuana.

On the foreign policy front, the incoming PM Trudeau has already promised to withdraw Canadian fighter planes from Syria, and has promised withdraw of “ground troops involved in combat missions.”

Meanwhile, Trudeau's Liberal Party has made legalization of recreational marijuana one of its priorities, with its platform stating: “We will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.”

The consensus among much of the Canadian media is that the election was a referendum on outgoing Conservative PM Harper himself, who gained a reputation as something of an authoritarian. Harper tended to take a hard-line pro-US foreign policy position, and supported the expansion of domestic spying against Canadians, and supported the infamous Bill C-51, something of a Canadian USA-PATRIOT Act. 

Not-surprisingly, the Left-Center liberals campaigned on more government spending, but not much more than the Conservatives. The Conservatives, like the GOP in the US, talks a good game about fiscal prudence, but while in power, the Conservatives spent freely, including billions (a lot of money in Canadian budgetary terms) on the notorious F-35 fighter jet.

Many Canadians may have figured that since they already have a government that loves to spend money, they might as well get a government that's open and honest about it. The Conservatives lowered taxes, but increased deficits, which are just taxes on future taxpayers. The Liberals promised to change little in this regard, although they, like the Left in the US are likely to take a less friendly stance toward the energy industry which has been Canada's boom industry in recent years. Moreover, the Conservative penchant for limiting civil liberties likely brought them no new friends either, including their commitment to the War on Drugs, and the US's global military and spying apparatus.

The media tends to overstate the “change” that is likely to occur when a new PM (or President) is elected, but what the voters don't care about is sometimes as telling as what they do care about. It's unlikely that Canadians have become hardcore foreign anti-interventionists or laissez-faire on drugs. But the Liberal Party's positions on these issues were apparently not an obstacle to Liberal success, either.

Image: Incoming PM Justin Trudeau.

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