Leader of the federal Libertarian party Tim Moen won’t mind if he doesn’t get a seat during the next federal election. He would almost rather see people thinking about what they want from a government than win.
“I’m less concerned with winning an election and more concerned with changing society,” he said.
The married father of three teens who now lives in Calgary, earned some notoriety last year when an Internet meme he created during a June 2014 by-election in the Fort McMurray-Athabasca riding that read: “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns,” landed him on the front page of Reddit and earned coverage in the Huffington Post, Fox News and CNN.
“This Hour has 22 Minutes, lampooned me. It got a lot of attention and quickly vaulted me into the political spotlight,” says the neatly dressed 41-year-old former firefighter and paramedic.
Moen’s political rise could be the fastest in Canadian history. “It’s not something I ever imagined getting involved with,” he said, during a one-day stop in Victoria last week. Although outspoken politically, Moen says he always felt those in politics were implicitly supporting the idea of status quo governance.
“I always considered political activism to be antithetical. I want to create the world I see and that kind of implicit support, I’m not a fan of,” he said.
“I really want to get people to re-examine their own beliefs about government. What government is and what is its purpose. I don’t want people to accept my conclusions, I want them to challenge their own conclusions about the world.”
Previous to throwing his hat in the ring for the by-election, Moen earned some media attention when he spoke out against statements made by Neil Young comparing Fort McMurray to Hiroshima after the American bombings. Moen, who had a video and audio production company, assisted Young with filming a documentary at the time.
That garnered attention of Libertarians who thought he had what it takes to be a politician. After some coercion he agreed to make a run in 2015. “I figured I’d have a year-and-a-half to figure out how politics works. Two days after I committed, the MP resigned and I was thrown into a by-election.”
He earned about four per cent of the vote with a $3,000 budget and has a goal of picking up 10 per cent of the vote this October.
“It was a good showing, typically Libertarians get about one per cent,” he said.
The popularity of his memes helped earn him the leadership of the party in May. “The more [votes] you pick up, the more potential credibility the message has,” he said.
“We hope to set up some success, so in 2019 we can take the next step towards being a professional party. To elevate our game and make a bigger impact.”
Moen promises a full slate of Libertarian candidates on the Island. Currently Art Lowe is running in Victoria; Meghan Porter is running in Saanich-Gulf Islands and Josh Steffler is running in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.