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An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/11/02


Tim Moen is the President of the Libertarian Party of Canada. He discusses: attenuation of the loss of an authentic self while in the midst of more, and more, public recognition; tasks and responsibilities come with this station with being the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada; honest mistakes as a leader; how an elected leader demarcates the vision for the political party and conveys the image to the leader’s constituency; the more heartening experiences in political life; the more disheartening experiences in political life; the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada; egregious examples of government overreach in Canada; model of consent; the individual as the basic unit of society; the bad, the good, and government, individuals, and groups; preventing government from harming society; and sub-clauses to the primary policy.

Keywords: Libertarianism, Libertarian Party of Canada, Tim Moen.

An Interview with Tim Moen: Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What attenuates the loss of an authentic self while in the midst of more, and more, public recognition?

Tim Moen: This is actually a huge question that to properly answer would require pages, but I’ll try and be concise.

A few years ago I was disoriented and alone in a structure fire. The heat was rising very quickly and was unbearable and I knew for a fact that I was going to die. Obviously, I made it out, but the man that emerged was not the same man that went in. I realized I had been wasting so much of my time and not devoting time and energy to the things in my life that mattered most to me.

Having a purpose driven life is the most important part of maintaining a sense of self. I don’t just mean having a purpose like winning an election, I mean having a clear understanding of what I want my life to have meant after my time here is done. Combine this sense of purpose with remembering I’m going to die is probably the biggest force that keeps me honest. Sometimes I find myself saying words because it’s the path of least resistance or because I know people will react favourably and having that clear image in my mind of my life ending and what it felt like having left so much undone and allowing others to control my destiny snaps me back to my purpose.

The other prerequisites to staying authentic and grounded are; having a strong degree of self-knowledge, and having a trusted group of friends and family who are willing to help you check your ego.

2. Jacobsen: A purpose to life brings popular mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, to mind, for me. He speaks to purpose in life within a theological framework. Many like him; some don’t. Your experience exists in or out of the theological interpretation, though. A realization of the profound nature of death and the proportional reinvigoration of meaning this imports to life. What practical steps follow from the experience (examples) – for staying grounded, gaining more self-knowledge, and developing a close, trusted group?

You are the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada. What tasks and responsibilities come with this station?

Moen: My job is to be the public face of the party and to speak on its behalf. I believe its also my job to help discover the vision and strategy of our party with our members and communicate it to our members. Ultimately it is my job to serve the needs of our members and our candidates.

3. Jacobsen: What have been honest mistakes as a leader? How does on confront them, admit them in public, and solve them for better performance in the future? All in the ‘public eye.’ How does a federal political party leader remain on amicable and friendly terms with other federal political party members in spite of differences about desires for the direction of the country?

Moen: I’ve met and enjoyed the company of people of all political persuasions. It is easy to ostracize and divide but I think its more productive to look for common ground and then engage in constructive conflict. It is easy for me to do because most people are libertarians in their private lives. They would never hurt someone or steal from them. Generally speaking, I think we all have the same goals and so as long as we can engage in civil discourse and can agree that we want to achieve the same things then we can have constructive conflict and work our way through the haze of cognitive dissonance together. Doing this requires that you view other people not as combatants to fight but rather as other people who share my goal of having a constructive conversation. If they don’t want to hurt people or take their stuff in their private lives yet they think that winning an election gives them new rights then the problem isn’t that they are bad people wanting to do bad things, the problem is that they are good people being led to do bad things because of a bad mental model or idea. On the other hand, it could be that I have a bad mental model and I would value having that mental model corrected so that I don’t do something bad.

The frame or lens through which we view these conversations with people who have different mental models largely determines how successful the conversation will be. I like to think of poor mental models as mind viruses, they spread and cause otherwise good people to do bad things. I am as susceptible to a mind virus as anyone else and conversations with people who challenge my mental models are valuable because at worst they cause me to ensure I have thought deeply enough about a position I hold to have good reasons for holding it and at best they cause me to change my mind and eliminate a mind virus.

4. Jacobsen: How does an elected leader demarcate the vision for the political party and convey the image to the leader’s constituency? Inspiration remains important for collective action.

Moen: At the end of the day my vision can’t part with the vision of my party or I’m not the right person for the job. I travel around Canada meeting with party members and listening to them and drawing inspiration from them and communicating my vision. I try and communicate why I am involved in the party and what gets me out of bed and motivates me to action. It is something that I’m really passionate about and I don’t think it takes much to motivate or inspire other people. When people see a bit of courage and authenticity that is often all they need to take action themselves.

5. Jacobsen: What have been the more heartening experiences in political life?

Moen: When I see people coming together to work for a common goal and see that we are having an impact on public discourse and culture that is very heartening. Meeting so many passionate and committed people is very motivating. Having earnest conversations with people genuinely interested in the conversation and seeing a mind change as a result of that conversation is very gratifying as well.

6. Jacobsen: What have been the more disheartening experiences in political life?

Moen: The most disheartening experiences are when people are focused on tearing each other down rather than putting aside differences in philosophy and personality for the good of achieving team goals. This is an ongoing problem with libertarians. We are very good at picking apart poor mental models and finding systemic flaws and this strength can turn into a weakness when we fixate on problems rather than focus on solutions. I’ve seen many good people leave in anger. I’ve lost a few people I considered friends because of mistakes I’ve made as a leader. People invest a lot in me as a leader and it really sucks disappointing them.

7. Jacobsen: What is the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: The primary policy of our party is to restrain government from hurting people or taking their stuff and limit its role to protecting individuals. We recognize that government is an institution that has a monopoly on and a mandate to use force and that the only proper use of force is to protect people from the initiatory force (ie murder, assault, rape, theft, fraud). Basically, we think the government should not violate consent and should protect people from violations of consent. People in government don’t get a special exemption from behaving ethically.

8. Jacobsen: What have been egregious examples of government overreach in Canada to you?

Moen: Taxation, the drug war, the growing surveillance state and healthcare stand out as big issues for me. The carbon tax strikes me as particularly horrific in that it is not just confiscating money under threat of force, it is punishing people for consuming the very thing that allows them to survive and flourish. The drug war has ruined lives and created a demand for violent criminals. Bill C-13, Bill C-51 and now the TPP are artefacts of a growing surveillance state that collects data on citizens by invading our private sphere. Our healthcare system is a gigantic point of failure and when it fails the poor and marginalized will be the first to feel the effects.

9. Jacobsen: Within this model of consent, what suffices to amount to consent?

Moen: By consent, I mean the standard legal definition. Consent means that another person should have your permission to enter your private realm. Consent is the difference between lovemaking and rape, or boxing and assault, or charity and taxation. If I tell you that I do not want you to do something to my body or my property and you do it anyways you have clearly violated consent.

10. Jacobsen: With respect to the individual, does the individual form the basic unit of society to you?

Moen: Yes. Society is a group of individuals. Institutions like government are abstract mental models that are often confused as entities that exist in material reality, what really exists are a bunch of individuals acting in accordance with mental models that may or may not lead to otherwise good people doing bad things.

11. Jacobsen: What defines the bad? What defines the good? How can the government increase the good and decrease the bad? How can individuals and groups in society increase the good and decrease the bad?

Moen: “The bad” can be broadly defined as violating consent. “The good” can be broadly defined as that which serves the needs of individuals and leads to flourishing. A proper government can create an environment for the good to emerge if it focuses on its job of protecting individuals from the bad. Humans are generally self-interested and behave in ways that maximize their personal well, being. For the maximum good to emerge it is necessary for the self-interest of an individual be tied to their ability to serve the needs of others and help them flourish. If self-interest is tied to violating consent one would expect the good would have a difficult time emerging and the bad would have an easier time emerging. So a free market where individuals can profit by serving the needs of others seems like the best place for the good to emerge and big government where individuals can profit by violating consent seems like a good place, for the bad to emerge.

12. Jacobsen: Furthermore, how can the government be prevented from harming individual citizens? Of course, no government can be protected from in its entirety. Nothing is full proof.

Moen: Government, as I just pointed out, is an abstraction, not an entity that exists in material reality that can cause harm. If by “government” you mean the specific group of individuals that people imagine have special rights then the question becomes, “how do we prevent these people from harming individual citizens?” To my mind, the answer is to get rid of the demand for a group of individuals to use force in immoral ways. The demand for a government that imposes on individuals comes from a lack of understanding of governments proper function and comes from a place of fear. At the end of the day, people the demand government action because they don’t see it as immoral and they are frightened of some particular hobgoblin and so they demand a government that alleviates their anxiety. So to prevent the government from harming individual citizens is a bit like getting drug dealers to stop harming drug users. Ultimately the problem would largely go away if the addiction was treated. So I see this as a very similar process to treating addiction. There is no legislative lever that will protect people from the government without a will from people for it to happen. Constitutions, bills, charters of rights are helpful insofar as citizens understand them and inscribe these principles on their hearts and minds but they are only pieces of paper with ink if people don’t embrace them. If people don’t believe in or want the government to be limited then it won’t…no matter what.

13. Jacobsen: What derivative policies, which have details and acts as sub-clauses to the primary policy, follow from the primary policy?

Moen: Since all law represents threats of violence for non-compliance our goal is to limit laws to only those that protect individuals. This means that activity between consenting adults that doesn’t harm anybody else should not be interfered with by threats of violence, even by people in government. So as an example we would repeal prohibitions on drug use and sex work.

Another area the government overreaches with force is on the financial lives of citizens. Taking money forcibly (or through threats of force) ought to be limited or eliminated. This means we want to dramatically reduce or eliminate taxation and find non-coercive ways to fund the government and eliminate all non-necessary government departments and spending. We also take issue with onerous regulation on individuals owning and running businesses and working for businesses. Raising the bar to enter the marketplace creates an unfair advantage to crony capitalists at the expense of consumers and start-up entrepreneurs.

We also want to improve property rights. Property rights give individuals immediate access to justice and dispute resolution. This includes our comprehensive policy on indigenous sovereignty which gives indigenous people sovereignty over their territory and allows them to push back against government appropriation of resources on their property and allows them to develop or not develop resources in a manner that is determined by them.

Our military is there to protect Canadians and not as a proxy for US imperialism or UN “Peace Keeping”. We would ensure our military isn’t used for a political agenda but to establish Canadian sovereignty and particularly to find ways of ensuring our Arctic sovereignty is established and protected.

A key element of liberty is the ability to exclude others from your private realm and so we would eliminate warrantless spying, repeal Bill C-51 and C-13, and the TPP in whole or in part.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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