A New Dimension to the Political Divide? Canadian MP Weighs in on Crypto

A reddit user wrote to his local MP, Andrew Cash, on the topic of cryptocurrencies. The writer appears to be

A reddit user wrote to his local MP, Andrew Cash, on the topic of cryptocurrencies. The writer appears to be a staunch NDP ally and refers to the ruling PC Conservative party, led by Stephen Harper, and “HarperCons” (almost reads like “HarperCoins”). He expresses dissatisfaction at the current banking system. Specifically, he takes issue with “banks rent seeking, predatory lending” practices in the context of the NDP’s stated aim to deal with the cost of living in Canada.

Andrew Cash

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To his surprise, Cash responded, saying:

“Thanks for taking the time to get in touch on this issue! I agree with you that the use of cryptocurrencies is certainly going to grow in the coming years, which is why the NDP feels it’s important for the government to immediately begin work on studying the use of these currencies and what place they may have in our society. So far, the government has refused to initiate such a study. My NDP colleague Charmaine Borg, our Critic for Digital Issues, has been examining the use of these currencies on behalf of our party and will continue to do so going forward.

It is very important that government understand how these currencies work and how they’re being used in Canada so that legislation can be crafted that doesn’t impede innovation. At the same time, there is a risk, as there is with all currencies, for their use in money-laundering and other illicit activity. We need to understand the extent of this problem, while also protecting legitimate users.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and for sharing your feedback. I really appreciate it!”

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To be sure, the government is already looking into cryptocurrency, although more for the purposes of law enforcement and potential regulation than for developing it into a mainstream tool for monetary transfer. We should also not forget the MintChip initiative launched two years ago, whose future now appears uncertain. Bank of Montreal (BMO), one of the country’s major financial institutions, has also expressed theoretical support if it was regulated.

A Political Divide?

Travelling through much of the world of cryptocurrency around the web, one does not get a sense that it favors one side of the political divide over the other. One rarely even finds any mention made to various sides of the political spectrum, at least in the frequency one would expect. More prevalent is the general notion of the government versus the people, our money’s freedom versus control by banks. In cases where political alliances are exposed, it seems like the distribution across the spectrum is equally represented.

Conceptually, the crypto world promotes elements both from the right and the left. From the right, you have values such as a free-market economy and a minimal role for government. From the left, there’s the drive to dethrone big banks and corporations and a more even distribution of wealth. Cryptocurrency has gotten mixed treatment both from left-leaning, even Socialist governments, as well as conservatives.

It is therefore interesting that in this context, the issue appears to have been presented as one of the right vs. the left. Perhaps it stems from the perpetual duty for the opposition to criticize those in power no matter what their position is, especially considering some of the aforementioned difficulties with Cash’s response.

Noteworthy as well is the redditor’s noting that “an entire industry is being born and that means jobs and a redistribution of the wealth currently being extracted by banks, lenders and payment processors that would prefer not to innovate.” The left-themed distribution of wealth comes into play, but not entirely in the traditional sense: innovation in the free market plays a pivotal role, perhaps an unintended consequence.

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