Carpay: Libertarians support parental rights and real diversity in education

Will my friend Derek Fildebrandt include parents in his new libertarian coalition?

His new United Liberty group promises to promote libertarianism, the philosophy of maximum individual freedom. Governments at all levels have become too large, too intrusive, too paternalistic, and too expensive.  Big government is also the driving force behind the cruel and immoral practice of incurring massive debts that will have to be repaid by our children and grandchildren.  So United Liberty is a welcome breath of fresh air.

If libertarians had their way, Canada’s federal and provincial governments would limit themselves to national defence, the protection of individual rights through the courts, and perhaps printing currency and building some roads and bridges.  Citizens would be entirely free to make their own moral, economic and social decisions regarding health care, education, savings, insurance, pensions, and everything else.  Taxation levels would drop to a fraction of what they are now.  Everyone would pay their own way, including the corporate welfare bums who now receive billions from taxpayers each year in business subsidies.  Tens of thousands of government regulations would be repealed, along with most existing laws, drug laws being only one example.

This is a radical vision for maximum freedom, and one that many Canadians reject.  However, while rejecting this vision in its pure form, most Canadians would be very happy to see us take a few steps towards it.

Calling himself a “liberty conservative,” Fildebrandt seeks to challenge the “vanilla conservatives” who merely want to manage Big Government better, without actually reducing its size, power, influence and cost.

Libertarians see the individual’s freedoms of expression, conscience, religion and association as the cornerstone of our free society, along with the right to own and enjoy the fruit of your labours, otherwise known as property rights.  Libertarians also cherish the freedom of parents to educate their own children as parents (not politicians, bureaucrats and political activists) deem best.  Libertarians hate the idea of government determining the philosophy and content of education, or government dictating the values, cultures and learning environments of schools.  Libertarians understand that parents love their own children more than any politician, bureaucrat or ideological activist ever does or could.  Libertarians trust parents, not government, to decide what is right for their children.

It will be interesting to see whether Fildebrandt, a self-described libertarian, will speak out against an Alberta law which has stripped parents of their right to decide what kinds of clubs and activities will or will not be allowed at the schools attended by their own children.  I refer to Bill 10, which requires every school in Alberta to set up and facilitate a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or other “activities” chosen by children.  Contrary to mainstream media coverage, GSAs are ideological clubs that seek to cure and eradicate “homophobic” beliefs like “marriage is between a man and a woman.”  Libertarians aren’t against GSAs.  Rather, libertarians are against mandatory GSAs.  Libertarians oppose any law that forces schools to allow clubs and activities that are hostile to the mission, values and purpose of the school that is chosen by parents for their children.

If Fildebrandt is a libertarian, he will champion “the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,” set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  If Fildebrandt is a libertarian, he will call on the government to respect the liberty of parents “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions,” which is a binding legal obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Libertarians support the freedom of parents to choose an authentic Jewish, Catholic, Sikh, Muslim, Christian or other religious school. These schools, by definition, will disallow student clubs and activities that espouse atheism, sexual immorality, occult activities, and anything else that is contrary to that school’s values.  Libertarians support parental rights and real diversity in education.  They reject the top-down imposition of “one-size-fits-all” policies. Libertarians support parental rights and real diversity in education

Anyone who supports Bill 10 is not a libertarian.

Calgary lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (  The views expressed in this column are his own.