The University of Calgary Students’ Union recently sanctioned a new right-wing advocacy club called the Canadian Advocates for Freedom and Liberty.
“We are a right-wing, non-partisan club,” said CAFL president and fourth-year political science student Caitlyn Madlener. “We are activists and we advocate for the principles of freedom and liberty across campus and across Canada.”
Although they have no party affiliation, their ideological leaning is no secret.
“Deregulation of the economy is a big one, lower taxes as well,” Madlener said. “But our biggest issue is fiscal responsibility, not just here, but everywhere in the world.”
According to CAFL events director Max Veress, the club hopes to push past students’ apathy and persuade others to question their political views.
“In Canadian politics and our age group, there’s a heavy level of disinterest, perhaps because of partisan politics,” Veress said. “We feel that ideas about liberty are attractive to the younger generation. They generally don’t want electronic surveillance and they don’t want the government telling them what they can and can’t do.”
Veress said the club met all the requirements for SU sanctioning earlier than expected.
“We reached our initial membership numbers for the approval pretty quickly and we did sign up quite a few members at clubs week,” Veress said. “I think we’re sitting somewhere at around 30 members right now.”
CAFL is planning a number of events, including film screenings, speaking events and a public carnival — all focused on raising awareness about issues the club deems important.
This includes a screening of the documentary U.N. Me on Oct. 24, a film that is highly critical of the United Nations.
“We believe that the United Nations is an organization that needs to be reviewed. It was an organization of free and democratic countries coming together and making sure that countries aren’t suppressing their people,” Madlener said.
The club has not codified any of their positions yet. But Madlener gave her stance on a number of institutions, including unions.
“My opinion on unions is that you should be able to choose whether or not you want to be a part of a union,” Madlener said. “And that is our club’s stance.”
In maintaining a non-partisan stance, they have chosen not to partner with any of the university’s other political groups, which are all affiliated with political parties.
“While people from all across the spectrum may agree with something like free speech, there are also certain things like the fundamental right to private property that, say, a communist wouldn’t agree with,” Veress said. “If you have some major ideological differences that are really opposed to the fundamental ideas of our group, this may not be the club for you.”
Organization for CAFL began this summer. During that time, Madlener secured ties with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Since then, Madlener and her club have embraced Generation Screwed, a campaign organized by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation concerning government debt.
“Generation Screwed encourages student groups to get involved in the issue,” said Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Derek Fildebrandt. “For the last 40 years, older generations have been entitling themselves to a lot of government spending, but making our generation pay for it. Eventually the bill is going to come due.”
Fildebrandt has been invited by CAFL to speak on campus.