Wednesday, July 19, 2006

LSS News: Two Publishers!

Hello everyone (feel free to forward this message widely) -

In our effort to bring you the best pro-liberty speakers in Canada, we are thrilled to announce two pubishers who will be speaking at this year's event: Ezra Levant and Stephen Taylor!

The Liberty Summer Seminar will be held on the July 29, 30 weekend in Orono, Ontario. It is hosted on a beautiful 40-acre property with a swimming pond, horseshoes, walking trails, and acres of forest. This year marks our sixth year.

Ezra is the publisher of the Western Standard newsmagazine, and author of Fight Kyoto and the recently released War on Fun. (Follow the link to order your copy).

Here's an excerpt of a review of the War on Fun on Quebecois Libre:

"The best book published in Canada lately... is my friend Ezra Levant's The War on Fun. In it, Ezra clearly shows how big health lobbies, politicians, do-gooders, busybodies and lawyers are attacking personal liberties, destroying the long Canadian tradition of freedom, turning rational grown-up adults into children, wanting to replace parental responsibility by bureaucratic programs and creating a victimhood mentality. As far as do-gooders are concerned, people (i.e., you and me) don't know what's best for them and must rely on bureaucrats and politicians to tell them what to do."

No stranger to controversy, the Western Standard's decision to publish the infamous Dutch cartoons depicting Muhammad sparked a long and still-current discussion in Canada about freedom of speech and possible limits on the right of publishers to publish what they'd like. Ezra will venture into these waters and explain the decision to publish, as well as why it was the right one, in his talk entitled "Publish and be damned: The Inside story of the Cartoon Kerfuffle."

Liberty Summer Seminar attendees will be familiar with Ezra, since he's attended the last two years in a row, and written glowingly about the Seminar here.

Stephen Taylor, meanwhile, is a graduate student in biochemistry (yes, biochemistry) at Queen's University, and a regular commentator on Canada's political scene. A thorough libertarian, Stephen is as convinced of the need for greater liberty in Canada as, well, us (the committee) are!

Stephen is "publisher" of the Blogging Tories aggregator, and his own popular blog, stephentaylor dot ca. The Blogging Tories is Canada's number one blog aggregator, with over 50,000 hits per day! That's a lot of hits. Meanwhile, his own personal blog was named the 3rd best political blog in Canada by the Hill Times (behind Warren Kinsella and Paul Wells). That's a lot of praise!

It is appropriate, then, that Stephen will talk about "Blogging for Liberty" at this year's Seminar.

If you haven't registered for the Seminar yet, do so now (it's easy).

If you're not a fan of camping, no problem! There are two motels within a ten minute drive of the property, and a number of bed and breakfasts that we'll happily point you to.

P.S. Maybe you saw our banner on the Western Standard website, or the Blogging Tories website, or, as of today, on! Maybe you read about the Seminar on, or came across Jason Cherniak's blog where he mentioned his attendance at the Seminar? Want to join them? Want to help us advertise? Have a blog, a website, some on-line presence where you can advertise the Liberty Summer Seminar? Good: Hit "reply" and send us a message about it. We'll happily provide you with a banner, and you will get into our good books (that is, we'll love you forever).

Meanwhile, if you have questions, suggestions, or comments, you can hit "reply" and send me an email. If you have friends who you think might be interested in attending or knowing about this Seminar, please forward this email to them and let them know you plan on coming.


Liberty Summer Seminar Committee.

Monday, July 17, 2006

LSS on LewRockwell dot com

In Apathetic Libertarians in Canada, LSS alum and friend, Michael Cust, writes about the Seminar in a discussion of, well, libertarians who are apathetic. Here's the LSS-relevant excerpt:
"... the Liberty Summer Seminar. It takes place on his estate outside of Toronto. Every year, he invites Canada’s top libertarian and pro-freedom academics, journalists, and activists to give talks during the day, while a pro-freedom band (and his mom!) rocks out in the evening. The event is annual and will be held next at the end of this month."

Thanks for the kind words, Mike, and for the plug. I'll post more about Mike's analysis of the Canadian libertarian movement later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cherniak blogs the Seminar

Popular Liberal Party blogger Jason Cherniak blogs about his attendance at this year's Liberty Summer Seminar.

Having pounded the pavement in Toronto with Cherniak trying to drum up petition signatures to keep Marc Emery from being deported to the U.S., I thought he would be just the right sort of person we should be encouraging to attend the Seminar. He is intelligent, thoughtful, and, probably due only to a lack of exposure, a non-libertarian. While I think events that reinforce the importance of liberty to those who already believe in liberty are a good idea, I'm glad that, each and every year, the Seminar manages to attract a not insignificant number of people who disagree with the libertarian political philosophy.

At best, these folks will come to agree with the philosophy. At the very least they'll get a better understanding of where people like me are coming from and why folks like me believe the things we do. Not to mention the fact that the late-night campfire chats (alcohol-enriched) are made all the more interesting. Spicy!

So I emailed Cherniak and asked him if he'd like to attend the Seminar. He said he would.

In his post he writes:
"...I think it will be a good time. I might not agree with the speakers, but I certainly think it will be important to listen to what they have to say and explain in words why I disagree with them. At other times, I will just drink and be merry.

In any case, I recommend that people consider attending the Liberty Summer Seminar. It should be a great time and a great debate."
I'm certain he will have a good time, even if he doesn't agree with the libertarian political philosophy. At least not entirely. He does say this, which surprised me, as well as a number of his readers in the comments:
"As I wrote last summer, I try to ground my Liberalism in libertarian philosophy. My basic argument is that we should all be free to do whatever we want as long as we do not harm others. I believe, however, that we need a strong government to stop the strong from taking advantage of the weak. Otherwise the lives of those who are not able to take advantage of others will be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"."

Cherniak grounding his Liberalism in libertarianism? I guess there is reason to believe this, given his stance on things like marijuana. I doubt that there exist better or stronger arguments for the legalization of marijuana than the arguments from individual liberty and self-direction. At any rate, I hope I can persuade him to stop thinking that we "need" a strong government to protect the weak. We need no such thing. Especially since "the strong" are the sorts of people who take advantage of the existence of institutions like governments precisely in order to take advantage of "the weak." But that's a conversation to be had over a pint or two of Liberty Ale, with a fire blazing, surrounded by trees and, as it turns out, a meteor shower.

Want in on the conversation? Register for the Seminar. Whether you're a libertarian, a Liberal, an NDP'er, a non-partisan lefty, righty, communitarian or Rawlsian liberal, the Liberty Summer Seminar is always a good time. Promise.

(Meanwhile, from a little while back now, Robyn posted an ad and blogged about the Seminar as well. Thanks to you, too, Robyn!)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Quote banner by Mike

Check out this killer Quote Banner Kerrigan made for the Liberty Summer Seminar! How cool is that? (Pretty cool).

Thanks, Mike.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Update on Indigo

Apparently, the censoring of Free Inquiry was a mistake. How odd.

Here's the Globe:

According to Mr. Flynn, the Indigo executive "gave me a sort of a stammering apology, said that the June-July issue was blocked by accident, and that they have contacted [Ajax, Ont.-based Disticor Magazine Distribution Services] to send it through again."

Earlier in the week, Mr. Flynn sent a letter to Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman saying he had learned from Disticor that Ms. Reisman's company had declined to stock the June-July Free Inquiry without giving a reason, and that future issues would be "inspected in advance on an issue-by-issue basis to determine [their] suitability" for Indigo and its Chapters, Coles and SmithBooks subsidiaries.

Calls by The Globe and Mail to four Indigo executives, including Mr. Silver, were not returned yesterday.
How strange that they should ban it, say it was a mistake, and give no reason for either move! Neither do we know what reason they may have had for stopping it, nor do we know why the mistake happened. I guess it could have been just "one of those things" (where someone presses a button somewhere on accident, or makes a phone call to a distributor, tells them they don't want the magazine anymore, and then realizes that they shouldn't have done any of that much later).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Time to Boycott Indigo

I like Indigo. I like big book and magazine retailers. I like going into the Indigo, browsing their various offerings, and having everything in one place. It's convenient.

The same goes for Wal-Mart and Costco and, here in the U.S., Meijer's.

But, for the second time in six or so weeks, Indigo has gone ahead and censored a magazine. I just can't stand a retailer being so aggressive in determining what content is appropriate for me, and people like me. I can make my own decisions, Indigo, and I'm angry that you would take this opportunity away from me.

What did they ban this time? This time it's an issue of Free Inquiry, a secular humanist magazine catering to atheists, heathens, humanists, agnostics, and other non-religious folk. The reason? They haven't given a clear one yet, so we don't know, and that's part of what makes me so angry. If you are going to ban the sale of a magazine, you had better have a good story to tell. A good explanation. You shouldn't just ban something, and fail to alert your PR department, or news spokespeople why you are taking something off the shelves.

There is speculation about why, however. The first possible reasons is that Free Inquiry published four of the Danish cartoons in their April-May issue, and the ban on the June-July issue reflects Indigo's displeasure with having missed this fact in their craze to keep Danish cartoons off of their shelves. The second is an editorial by none other than philosopher Peter Singer in the current issue entitled "The Freedom to Ridicule Religion--and Deny the Holocaust." That editorial argues what the title implies.

The last time they banned a magazine was that issue of the Western Standard that published the Danish cartoons that sparked serious trouble in other parts of the world. I disagreed with that decision too. I had plenty to say about why publishing those cartoons was appropriate, and why news outlets in Canada made an error in news judgment in not publishing the cartoons.

I should make a few things plain. First, I don't mind that stores are legally permitted to determine what goes on their shelves. In fact, I think this is a good thing. So I'm not disputing Indigo's "right" to ban just whatever they'd like. Books with the colour purple on the cover, children's books, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and so on.

What I'm disputing is their decision in this case, and in cases similar to it. The response on my part, to show Indigo my displeasure, is to stop shopping at their stores. And to urge you, too, to just say no to Indigo.

Second, I don't dispute the banning or censoring, on the part of sellers, of certain materials that fall well outside of certain boundaries. In referring to the law (a separate issue), Peter Singer makes the following point (this is in that editorial in the Free Inquiry):
"Laws against incitement to racial, religious, or ethnic hatred, in circumstances where that incitement is intended to, or can reasonably be foreseen to, lead to violence or other criminal acts, are different, and are compatible with the freedom to express any views at all."

Third, I believe that a retailer with sufficient clout in a market has additional moral responsibilities. As it stands, Indigo is a giant. Supposing there were no other bookstores around, this bookstore's decision to censor would be as good as (as bad as) full legal censorship. It would amount to the same thing--the rest of us not getting access to a publication--even if the reasons for why this is bad would differ in the case of government versus private enterprise.

Indigo, of course, is not the only bookstore. There are others. But given Indigo's clout, they are, for very many of us, the sole, or a rare, venue for books. For this reason, I think they should feel additional pressure to be non-censorial. Pressure from customers (or, as in my case, former customers).

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mises Video

The Mises Institute is up on YouTube! Here is a nice little video on Ludwig von Mises himself. Sweet!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Taylor interviews Smith

Stephen Taylor interviewed Danielle Smith on property rights last week. The interview highlights problems with Canada's approach to property, and makes a few suggestions for how we should deal with property. Visit his post here, and then follow the instructions to download and listen to the podcast interview yourself.

Stephen Taylor runs a classy blog over on, and helped found Blogging Tories dot ca. Danielle, meanwhile, runs her own radio show--called, appropriately enough, Standing Ground. The radio show complements her work with the Alberta Property Rights Initiative, which she also runs. You can download and listen to Danielle's show weekly.

Both Stephen Taylor and Danielle Smith will have a chance to continue their conversation at this year's Liberty Summer Seminar. They are both confirmed speakers for the July 29, 30th event in Orono, Ontario. Visit our website if you want to meet both, and have your own conversation. If you bring a recorder, you can host your own podcast interview! Fun? Yes.