|A Tea Party supporter poses with his shirt in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington August 27, 2010. The site will be the venue for tomorrow's Restoring Honor rally organized by right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
OTTAWA - Are Canadians getting fed up with government regulations, rules and taxes? The man behind an attempt to start a Tea Party movement in Canada hopes so.
This past weekend hundreds of thousands of Americans flocked to Washington for a rally about taking back their country. They came to hear speakers such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and although not explicitly a Tea Party event, the crowd drew many from the movement that calls for government to get government off the backs of hard working people.
Andrew Lawton wants to bring that spirit to Canada.
Lawton, a conservative-leaning activist from London, Ont., is one of the organizers behind an online attempt to start a Tea Party movement in Canada.
Starting with a Facebook group, Lawton says there are plans for rallies this fall in Ottawa and Quebec City. Other cities may be added.
There are differences between the two countries Lawton acknowledges but adds the basis of the movement is the same.
“The issues differ but the ideology stays the same. Advocating for smaller government, freedom and letting people live their own lives.”
“One person came up to me recently and said that freedom is an American value,” said Lawton. “That’s not true. It’s an attitude I want to change.”
Veteran radio broadcaster Charles Adler has worked on both sides of the border and has spent the last several years taking the pulse of the nation as host of a cross-Canada talk radio show.
Adler says a Tea Party movement in Canada only has a shot of working in this country if it is more moderate than the American version.
“Is there some comparison in terms of resentment of elite opinion and big government? It's out there,” Adler told QMI Agency. “But will it get the enthusiasm and funding that the U.S. Tea Party has gotten? Doubtful.”
Dr. Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the McDonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think-tank, also gives the movement little chance of success.
Crowley says the impact of the Reform Party in Canada in the 1990s is still being felt in Canadian politics. Due to Reform, he says, Canadians don’t easily accept higher taxes.
“I think we’ve certainly changed the political culture quite a bit,” said Crowley. “Even the NDP campaigns now on no-tax increases or even some tax reduction. That’s a huge sea change from where we were several decades ago.”
On the West Coast, former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm believes there is an appetite for change. Vander Zalm has spent the last few months leading the campaign against the HST.
“Maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of that right here,” said Vander Zalm. “When we started this whole campaign against the HST, it was just the HST. Now it has grown into a whole issue of democracy, people are saying that we don’t have democracy, we elect dictatorships.”
That’s exactly the type of sentiment that Lawton is hoping to tap into.
“It’s getting to the point now that there is enough Canadians who are saying, 'We’ve had enough.’”