Something pretty cool is happening up here in the frozen tundra that is Canada.
No, Justin Trudeau wasn’t impeached. We don’t do that here. It’s unfortunate, I know. On behalf of Canada, I sincerely apologize for that guy. He sucks man. Even though he isn’t actually Fidel Castro’s son, his father was probably still a communist. I’m sorry. I won’t even mention him again out of shame… but I digress.
While the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) was busy having a convention to discuss policy going forward, one fairly well known conservative politician decided to distance himself from the party for the last time.
Maxime Bernier – nicknamed Mad Max by his supporters – announced that he was leaving the CPC to form his own party going forward.
Let me give you some background on who Bernier is, and why this may have a serious impact on not only Canadian politics, but the Libertarian movement as well.
Maxime Bernier is a businessman, lawyer, and politician. He’s held many important positions within Canadian politics. Most notably, he served under Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture.
After the Liberals and that guy who I’m not going to mention won the 2015 federal election, Stephen Harper stepped down and the CPC needed to elect a new leader for the party. They decided to take a cue from the Republican Primaries and run the most candidates ever in a leadership election.
Among the 14 candidates, were businessman and reality tv star Kevin O’Leary, establishment candidate Andrew Scheer, and of course, Maxime Bernier. The latter gained overwhelming support from Libertarians and Laissez-Faire Capitalists alike by routinely quoting Hayek, as well as keeping a copy of Atlas Shrugged on his nightstand and helping to deregulate the telecom industry in Canada. He was also one of (quite possibly the first) mainstream candidates to speak out against supply management in the dairy industry AKA The Dairy Cartel Wondering what the heck a dairy cartel is? You’ll find out in just a minute.
The voting, in this case, was done using a ranked ballot system. Meaning voters ranked up to 10 candidates, their support passing from one candidate to their next preference as the candidate with the fewest points was eliminated after each round, kind of like Survivor without the whole deserted island part.
The final round came down to Andrew Scheer and Bernier. The final vote was 49% Bernier and 51% Scheer. Now as you could imagine, a lot of Bernier’s support came from the fact that he was vehemently opposed to supply management. This leads many to speculate that the Canadian dairy lobby had used their power to throw their support behind Scheer, including Bernier himself.
You see, in 1934 the Canadian Dairy Farmers’ Federation — now going by the moniker Dairy Farmers of Canada — was formed. Their official mandate was to stabilize the market as well as helping create more revenue for dairy farmers.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau – the possibly communist dad mentioned in the second paragraph – was the Prime Minister in 1971 and passed legislation due to the industries continued lobbying efforts. The legislation became known as ‘Supply Management’ and it is the same model that the government of Canada uses today.
The concept of supply management is based around three main policies: price setting (control of how much certain products cost), control of supply (how much farmers are allowed to produce) and possibly the most alarming, protection from competition (monopoly).
The result is high-price fixing, production control, and extremely high tariffs. Not to mention that the dairy farmers aren’t really in need of protection.
It’s worth noting that although small compared to the lobbies south of the border, the Dairy Farmers Of Canada are incredibly powerful in Canadian politics. Their influence is seen in every major political party. They routinely lobby to stifle political debate as well as gain fiscal and legal privileges that spit in the face of the free market. This has led to some people compare the dairy industries lobbying efforts in Canada to that of the NRA in the US.
As Mad Max puts it;
“ The mother of all political hijackings is the ridiculous influence the small supply management lobby for dairy, poultry, and eggs has managed to exert over every political party and every politician in Canada. Should we be surprised that it had 25 lobbyists at the Conservative convention in Halifax?”
With tariffs on dairy ranging by some estimates up to 300%, Trump isn’t entirely wrong about NAFTA.
Pretty much every western country has backed away from supply management including Australia, the United Kingdom, and even the United States. It’s immoral, and it’s possibly illegal according to the World Trade Organization. With the POTUS saying himself that dairy is high on the list of demands in trade negotiations for our two countries, now seems like as good a time as ever scrap the system.
Maxime Bernier doesn’t have his own party yet, and many have doubts about whether or not he can form one before the 2019 federal election. This has led some to speculate that he may opt to join the Libertarian Party of Canada. Tim Moen -the current leader and all around badass of the party – has already invited Bernier to take the leadership role after he lost to Andrew Scheer. To put that into perspective for American readers, it’s like if Gary Johnson offered Rand Paul to be the head of the Libertarian Party after Paul lost the 2016 Republican Primaries. Bernier and Moen have apparently been in talks recently, however, the latter has said himself that he has no interest in merging the Libertarian Party with whatever party Bernier decides to create.
Regardless of whether or not Maxime Bernier joins the Libertarian Party, he’s still pretty damn libertarian, which is good news for Canada and bad news if you’re a dairy farmer. Especially when you consider the fact that his unnamed party doesn’t even exist yet and is already polling at 13% nationwide. That means that we will probably be seeing libertarian and free market ideals finally get some representation in a major way very, very soon.
Now to be fair, many people criticizing Bernier’s decision to leave are doing so due to the fact that they’re worried about him splitting the conservative vote, thereby handing our Prime Minister another 4 years in power.
However, the decision to cut ties with the CPC shows character and principle from a man who has already done more to advance the cause of liberty than any other politician in my lifetime. If I was the Dairy Farmers of Canada right now, I would be shaking like a shitting dog.
You can read more by Everett Shapcott on Think Liberty here.