Sir Wilfred Laurier: Canada’s Libertarian Prime Minister

David — December 8, 2010

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

“Canada is free and freedom is its nationality.” — Sir Wilfred Laurier

As a young conservative growing up in Canada I looked to the Founding Father’s of the United States as champions of liberty. In my twenties, as my political philosophy shifted to libertarianism, I looked to the Austrian economists and their precursors for inspiration. I found the politics of my mother country drab. What a joy it has been to discover that Canada’s seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier, was a classical liberal. He served as Canada’s leader from July, 11 1896—October 5, 1911.

Sir Laurier’s chief political ideals were individual liberty and decentralisation of power. Like every good libertarian he opposed conscription and war. Specifically he stood in opposition to Canada’s entrance into World War 1. Under his leadership Saskatchewan and Alberta were brought into confederation. Rather than opposing the British Empire he believed that Canada should be an autonomous nation within it as long as it was based on “absolute liberty political and commercial”. On the same note he believed the provinces should have maximum freedom within the larger framework of Canada.

Brian Lee Crowley, Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis’s new book The Canadian Century mentions Sir Wilfred Laurier and Canada’s classical liberal roots. Recently reviewed on the Western Standard’s blog the authors of this new book argue that it is only since the 1960’s that Canada has taken on a socialist identity.  The authors represent a growing number of classical liberals in Canada who don’t feel it is appropriate to look to the US as a beacon of liberty anymore. The Bush/Obama years have cast a shadow over the US with its wars, inflation and suppression of civil liberties. The authors argue that libertarian minded individuals in Canada need to look to our roots and forge a new path forward.

All hail Sir Wilfred Laurier: Canada’s libertarian Prime Minister!

“Nothing will prevent me from continuing my task of preserving at all cost our civil liberty.” — Sir Wilfred Laurier

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