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Canadians get behind rebel Republican

With Michigan voting, we look at the Canadians who love Ron Paul.

Peter Jaworski - January 15, 2008

While he's sure that someone who upholds a "consistent libertarian position," doesn't have a real shot at winning the Republican nomination, Dr. Paul Quirk, the Phil Lind Chair in U.S. Politics and Representation at the University of British Columbia, thinks much of his support "undoubtedly reflects his strong criticism of the war in Iraq--where he is willing to go beyond some of the Democrats." That's what prompted James Hearn, a 22-year-old undergraduate at Memorial University, to actually get involved in pressing hands and handing out literature for Paul in Iowa prior to the January 3rd caucus. "Hundreds of thousands of people have died," he says, "and the world is a much more dangerous place." He is additionally motivated to help out because Canada, as a neighbouring country, is liable to suffer since "any animosity towards America makes Canada less safe as well." Hearn was in Iowa along with Seyitbek Usmanov, a 22-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, spending their Christmas vacations in the Hawkeye State.

Second on the list appears to be Paul's policy on the federal war on drugs. Paul has said that he would eliminate the federal war on drugs, while allowing the various states to set their own policies with respect to currently-illegal drugs like marijuana. Lindy Vopnfjord, a singer-songwriter who makes up one-half, with Todor Kobakov, of the popular Major Maker duo, thinks its positions like these that attract Canadians to Paul. "Any Canadian who isn't old as hell or overtly psychopathic wants to end the war on drugs because they know it is the compassionate way to stop incarcerating our way out of problems, and to treat drug addiction as a public health problem," he says. Vopnfjord wore Ron Paul Revolution t-shirts to concerts, and has a Ron Paul bumper sticker on his guitar case. He was so enamored with the "old as hell" Congressman--Paul is 72 years old--that he, along with his brother Kris, composed a song about Ron Paul. The song, posted as a video on YouTube, has been viewed over 10,000 times.

Lindy is not the only Canadian celebrity rooting for Ron Paul. The Oakville, Ontario-born, and current Phoenix, Arizona resident, Sean "Val Venis" Morley of World Wrestling Entertainment has thrown his weight--all 260 pounds of it--behind the Texas Congressman. In an August 27th YouTube interview with the WeekendGamer.com, Morley said that he's a big supporter of Ron Paul's, adding that he's blogging for him at freetarian.com. Paul's record of voting against spending and unbalanced budgets—whether put forward by Republicans or Democrats—has earned him the nickname "Dr. No" in Congress. Morley is attracted to Paul's record, and thinks it's important to "focus on the debt we are going to leave to future generations. To me, it should be a crime to put our children and our grandchildren in debt the way we are doing now."

Also "rooting for Paul" is the National Post editorial board, which issued an editorial with that title on December 22, 2007. While conceding that Paul won't win, the editorial board wants Paul to at least "grab his party's bloated, big-spending Bush-ite establishment by the lapels and slap it around a little." That favourable editorial resulted in a "lot of letters," says Full Comment editor Marni Soupcoff who counts herself as a supporter of Ron Paul's libertarian message. Many of the letters were from people who thought the Post had endorsed Ron Paul which "wasn't actually our intention," she adds. But Soupcoff thinks most "mainstream" Canadians either haven't heard of Paul or, if they had, think he's "nuts."

The sympathy for the Revolution, however, appears to be matched by antipathy. As is true in the U.S., Canadians either love him, or they hate him. Walter Block, Professor of Economics at Loyola University in New Orleans, summarizes the distaste as follows: "Leftists in Canada despise his free enterprise advocacy. Rightists despise his anti-war viewpoints." As for the strong characterization of Canadians' attitudes, Block adds, "despise, rather than dislike, since Ron is a man of principle, and these critics sense this." Block, who is American, has spent many years in Canada. He was, from 1979 until 1991 a senior economist with the free-market Fraser Institute, and spent several years as a board member of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Conservative websites and blogs in Canada are divided between those who love and those who hate Ron Paul. BloggingTories.ca, an online blog aggregator for supporters of the federal Conservative Party, has several pro-Ron Paul bloggers, as well as a bevy of anti-Paul bloggers. Inspiring the ire of conservatives here is primarily his position on foreign policy. Many, like Halifax's Damian J. Penny who blogs on the popular Daimnation blog, think he's "nuts" for wanting to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible, calling his views, as many in the media have done, "vehemently isolationist." But Block thinks this is a terminological mistake. Isolationism, says Block, means that the U.S. has nothing to do with other countries, "no trade, no social or intellectual interaction, no sports contests, and no imperialism." "Non-interventionism," on the other hand, means that "the U.S. does not isolate itself from the rest of the world," engaging in trade, social and intellectual interaction, sports contests, and so on. "It only eschews imperialism," he continues, adding, "Ron is a non-interventionist. He is not an isolationist."

While the tag of "isolationist" continues to dog Paul, two other controversies threaten to derail Paul's campaign completely. The first is his supporters' inclination towards conspiracy theories and "9/11 Truth," a movement to force the U.S. government to have another investigation into the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Paul doesn't help himself when he goes on the radio with Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who thinks 9/11 was an "inside job," and who worries about international bankers running the world from secretive rooms. He was forced, in the latest Fox News debate from South Carolina, to address the views of some of his supporters when he was asked: "Would you ask them (the 9/11 conspiracy theorists) to cease that rhetoric on your behalf tonight?" Paul responded by saying, "well it doesn't do me any good, so if they care about me they should," and added, "but the only thing I have control over is what I believe and what I say. I can't tell them what to do. So I don't endorse what they say and I don't believe that."

More damning, however, is the "newsletter controversy." While Paul denies having written or edited, or even read, any of the newsletters with racist and homophobic comments that bore his name, the charges continue to be brought up.

More articles by Peter Jaworski