Many of us were satisfied that we had made progress, the party had grown, more members, twice the candidates and more interest. Three of our candidates even beat the Green Party candidate in their particular ridings. Yes, we made inroads, but if looked at in perspective, our provincial total was roughly the same as the winning candidate, the incumbent Liberal, in my own riding. One person, the same as our total. We still have a long way to go.
Many of our Libertarian candidates took comfort in the fact that we beat the Freedom Party (FP), our disaffected and embittered kinfolk. Yes, they were once libertarians, and yes we beat them by a large margin (more than two to one), even though our real differences (based on those members that I know) are virtually nonexistent. They took a different approach in this election, deciding to pander a little more to popular appeal, and thus make themselves look less scary. Their leader was aggressive, obnoxious, a bit of a braggart, and not very nice to us (he called us "a scraggly bunch of anti-government protestors" even though he has the full beard). He got lots of free press (as you can see in the previous link), they had more candidates (57), a flashier website, more money, generally more exposure than we had, and yet, very disappointing results compared to us. I wish them no malice, their goal is very similar to ours, but when you act, and look just like a conservative, people will vote for the conservative party or candidate they feel has a better chance to win, in this case the oxymoronically named Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. That's what happened to FP, and they will need to rebrand themselves or rejoin us, because we are not going away.
There is a lesson for us here, we can't make ourselves less scary, because we lose what little credibility we have now, and we no longer become an alternative protest vote. The Libertarian brand is becoming established here in Canada, just as it has been in the US. This is not the time to change the formula or the packaging. Nor is there any chance we will be elected, not in the near or even distant future. We can change the conversation, and the Overton window in Ontario, without getting elected. Our socialist friends have done exactly that.
In 4 weeks we have a Convention, where new leadership may be chosen, and where we decide our future. There are noises among some of our new members that the time has come to get serious, to cast off our "debating society," modus operandi, and become a "real" political party. See that chart up there, we are real, we are also not the same as any other party, its time to accept that fact. Maybe thats what the noises are about. Is it time to look and act like the other parties, maybe? However, for a scraggly bunch of anti-government protestors, I think we are doing as well as can be expected, given how few of us are actually doing something, and how little our resources are. Size does matter folks, and we can only grow if people start pulling in the same direction.