Libertarian Gene Balfour will have his name on the ballot for the fourth time in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock in next month’s provincial election, but he says his role is not to get elected.
Standing as a candidate for a fringe party, Balfour said he has long since come to terms with the fact that he won’t be elected to represent the riding in Queen’s Park. But he still believes in the importance of giving people a choice.
“When it comes to politics, people are not going to vote for a party that’s not going to be electable. So my role is not to get elected, my role is to try to influence,” Balfour said. “I run because I’ve always believed in the idea, principle and value of democracy.”
As a Libertarian, Balfour believes, fundamentally, that there is too much government in the world.
“We are the party that says that freedom of choice basically means the government plays a part, but it doesn’t have to control our lives entirely like it does today. If there’s one key model that we believe in, it would be freedom. That’s basically our party’s DNA,” Balfour said. “On top of that, there’s four principles which we call the principles for civil society. We believe in personal responsibility, individual freedom, respect and fairness.”
While he doesn’t consider himself an active campaigner, Balfour says the majority of people he has spoken to in the lead up to next month’s vote have liked what he’s had to say.
“Virtually everybody agrees that we have too much government, that our taxes are too high. I can’t think of a single person that I’ve ever spoken to in the last few years that would think we need more government intervention,” Balfour said.
With issues surrounding inflation, health care and the local housing crisis taking centre stage in Haliburton County in the lead up to the election, Balfour believes the root cause of all of those problems is mismanagement at the municipal, provincial and federal level.
One of the things he is actively advocating for is what he’s calling “non-government options”. Essentially, giving the public the choice to opt in or out of expensive programs funded through taxation.
“Take education for example, if you choose to support the government programs then I would propose you voluntarily pay your share of the costs to the public education system. But if you choose to opt out, then you would be exempt from contributing, you’d save that money and be able to redirect it paying for a private school education,” Balfour said.
He said the same concept could be used for government-led climate change programs, such as the carbon tax and gas tax.
“If you believe climate change is a serious issue, then you should personally contribute your own money and your own time to the cause… [those that don’t] should be able to opt out,” Balfour said. “That would give people so much more freedom to live their lives the way they want to, which is what Libertarianism is all about.”