Libertarians in Beaches-East York will have to think twice when they vote on Thursday.
The riding has not one, but two candidates from parties promising radically less government in Ontario.
Alex Lindsay is a 27 year-old civil engineer running for the Ontario Libertarian Party.
“I believe that government intervention in basically any industry or service, as well as people’s lives, is ultimately detrimental to people,” he says.
In their platform, The Choice Book, Ontario Libertarians set out plans to privatize healthcare and energy companies, remove the minimum wage, create a flat income tax, stop enforcing federal gun-control laws, and decriminalize prostitution and recreational drugs.
While the platform isn’t mainstream, Lindsay said Canadians are actually more libertarian than they know. For example, he said many people, not just ‘Half-Baked’ stoner types, agree drug laws do more harm than good, and would like to decriminalize marijuana.
“I would like to see a policy based in true evidence, and not politics,” he said.
Toronto’s traffic woes are another example, said Lindsay. While politicians battle over funding one or another transit line, the root problem – urban sprawl – continues to stretch the network.
“You have people who work downtown and live 30 or 50 kilometers away,” he said. “To say it’s a problem with transit isn’t accurate, I don’t believe.”
Lindsay lives in the downtown Trinity-Spadina area, and admits he knows little about local Beaches-East York issues. He ran mainly to help his fledgling party reach a full slate – Ontario Libertarians are running candidates in a record 74 of 107 ridings this year.
But even though they won only 20,000 votes in the last Ontario election – half of one per cent of the total – Ontario Libertarians risk vote splitting from the party that broke away from them: the Freedom Party of Ontario.
Looking to improve on the 144 votes she won last election, Naomi Poley-Fisher is a 66 year-old registered nurse and the local Freedom Party candidate.
Co-founded in 1984 by Marc Emery, Canada’s ‘Prince of Pot,’ the Freedom Party has long been home to a pro-cannabis constituency.
“Cannabis was actually what brought me to the Freedom Party,” said Poley-Fisher, adding that it was marijuana, as well as moving away from pollutants in Halifax that helped her overcome an illness she got from working in a hospital there in the 1970s.
But this election, the Freedom Party is campaigning on two other issues – balancing next year’s budget and cancelling subsidies for green energy.
“We really do have too much government in our lives,” said Poley-Fisher.
“Like we don’t get subsidized to buy brown garbage bags, and if you bought other ones, you are S.O.L. They charge you if you have more garbage than normal. I can’t have a little bonfire-barbecue in my backyard.”
“There’s all these regulations that really infringe on your freedom as a person to do what you please with your property.”
Poley-Fisher also said she personally believes all drugs should be legal, and that drug addiction is a disease, not a crime.
“The crime is the fact that you’re put in jail for your addictions,” she said. “That helps no one, and just costs the government a phenomenal amount of money.”
Poley-Fisher admits she has “no hope in hell” of getting elected, but speaking as a resident, she said Beaches-East York has a lot of educated, well-read people who might be open to her party’s ideas.
“Think outside the box before you put your ‘X’ in the box,” she said. “There are other ways to do government.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the Freedom Party of Ontario formed after the Ontario Libertarian Party, and not the other way around. The Ontario Libertarian Party was founded in 1974. The Freedom Party of Ontario formed ten years later.