Ron Paul headlines Ottawa Conference

Former U.S. congressman Ron Paul (R) shakes hands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 7, 2013....

Former U.S. congressman Ron Paul (R) shakes hands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:14 PM ET

The big draw guest at this year's Manning Networking Conference is former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. He's best known as the world's most prominent libertarian politician.

But are libertarian values a large part of politics in Canada?

In the annual Manning Barometer report, less than 1% of Canadians identified as libertarian. This is despite the fact the majority of respondents indicated a preference for small government over big - the hallmark of libertarian philosophy.

While many small government proponents may end up siding with big tent conservative parties - like Ron Paul did throughout most of his political career - Canadians on both sides of the border also have the option of electing outright libertarians.

While not widely reported, the official Libertarian vote more than doubled in the United States' 2012 presidential election to 1.3 million votes. Their candidate was former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

The Libertarian Party of Canada was founded in 1973 and received registered status after fielding 50 candidates in the 1979 election.

The party has yet to capture a sizeable number of votes. In the 2011 federal election the party received 6,017 votes, down from their 1988 peak of 33,000.

"I didn't become a libertarian until 2008 because I didn't know the party existed," says Allen Small, current leader of the provincial Ontario Libertarian Party. "The most important thing we want to do is raise the profile."

Ron Paul speaks Friday morning at the Ottawa Convention Centre.


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