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Freedom and Friends at Friedman

Picture of John Ogilvie

John Ogilvie

2023 Adjacent Mannkal Scholar

The 2023 ALS Friedman Conference was fantastic. It is difficult to single out one session as being my favourite, as there were several that I found quite interesting. The panel on the future of “freedom friendly minor parties” was highly engaging, and it was interesting to hear the different party representatives.  

If I had to pick one particular session that I could call my favourite, I would have to choose the education panel with Maya Tesa, Mark Hornshaw and Moira Deeming. All three speakers gave compelling arguments for why the education system needs serious reform, and each brought a unique perspective to the table. Maya Tesa argued that parents need to take a more active role in their children’s education and schools, and provided some anecdotes from her personal experience as a parent. Mark Hornshaw argued that public schools should be shut down, on the grounds that the public school system forces students to conform to a cookie-cutter mold that punishes intellectual diversity. He advocated for either a school voucher system or homeschooling. Moira Deeming gave an excellent speech discussing her experience as a teacher, and how she eventually decided to homeschool her children after becoming disillusioned with the education system. This included some emotional moments where Moira talked about the effect that the education system had on her children, including learning that her daughter was bullied by her peers, and nothing was done about it. I didn’t agree with everything the panelists had to say, but they each made insightful contributions, and they collectively presented a strong argument that the education system as it stands is failing the next generation, and that it needs change. 

Choosing a favourite speaker from the conference is an even more difficult task, as there were many speakers who impressed me. Melisa Albisetti spoke very well about the dangers of populism, Eric Abetz spoke well about the need for leadership change in the Liberal Party, and Topher Field gave a very insightful and heartwarming anecdote about a friend he made in Venezuela. Dana Pham’s speech was also very good, and it took a lot of courage on her part to speak at the conference. Overall, I would say that my favourite speaker from the conference was Moira Deeming, particularly her speech during the education panel. Her clear passion as an educator and the love she has for her children that came out in her speech almost brought me to tears. It’s one thing to hear about the pain and challenges that the current education system causes for both students and parents from secondary sources. It is far more impactful to see someone in person describing their own experiences with the education system, and the pain it caused her and her children. While I do not agree that schools should be abolished, Moira’s speech really drove the point home that something needs to be done to reform the public school system. 

Awards Winners at Friedman

I learned a significant amount at the Friedman Conference across a range of subjects. I learned from first-hand accounts just how dire the situation is with the public school system in Australia, and that parents getting more involved in their children’s education can make a significant positive difference. I also learned more about the dangers of populism, and how the freedom friendly minor parties are seriously considering running as one bloc in future elections. It would be easier to list the things I didn’t learn from the conference!

At the dinner on Saturday (July 8th), Spike Cohen gave a speech where he gave three tips for how libertarians can better communicate their message and make progress going forward. The advice he gave was very insightful and is essential to ensuring that the libertarian/classical liberal message is successfully communicated to the general public.  

I believe that there are several main takeaways for me personally from the conference. First, I have become more passionate about education reform in light of the panel discussion on July 8th, and particularly Moira’s speech. I also believe that I will make a more conscience effort to be positive in political life, as per Spike’s advice. I will also be more open about my beliefs, as self-censoring is highly counter-productive. 

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