Guiding Principles

1.We will defend freedom from the constraints of civil authorities *not* freedom to demand from others. [1]
 2.We will defend freedom to govern oneself *not* freedom to interfere with others. [1]

[1] Contemporary discussions of “rights” and “freedoms” often seem to refer to the delivery of a range of perceived social goods. Examples include a “right” to housing, to clean water, and to obtain private services, and “freedom” to appropriate public spaces. Without challenging the virtue of such benefits, we can point out that insisting on the receipt of such benefits requires a beneficiary to make demands upon others, either directly or through the agency of the State. Rights and freedoms of this nature are often conferred upon identified groups who receive special status. Further, not all such rights are supported by broad consensus, and some derive only from judicial pronouncements.

Rather than risk diminishing the consensus we strive to achieve in the defence of freedom and democracy, we distinguish the freedom of citizens to live private lives, without undue constraint imposed by those who govern, as freedom which deserves special protection. In contrast, those who make demands for others to supply them with public goods have the onus of justifying the subordination of others to their demands.

3. We will act politically *not* legally or academically. [2]

[2] There are existing agencies and individuals who already defend democracy and freedom in courts and in academia. Although more such efforts are welcome we choose to gratefully support, rather than duplicate, judicial and academic efforts in order to focus on political action specifically directed to the defence of freedom and democracy.

The political defence of freedom and democracy should be recognized as generally important in its own right rather than treated as merely subsidiary to the attainment of specific policies. Also, existing political efforts to defend basic freedoms are often isolated and fail to employ the broad range of possible strategies, circumstances which we can enhance with a planned, unified approach.

4. We will be accessible to all *not* limit  accessibility by partisan, religious, or other, identity. [3]

[3] In a true democracy, freedom must be extended to everyone, not merely to those who share our identity or beliefs, since true democracy is based upon the principle that everyone possesses equal worth and dignity. This offers us the opportunity to collaborate with others in the defence of basic freedoms and democracy, provided that we do not insist upon agreement in all other matters. We can work together for freedom and democracy even if we differ on partisan issues, religious doctrine, or in other ways.

5. We will focus on policy process *not* on policy content. [4]

[4] Because we seek to mobilize consensus in favour of freedom and democracy, we will limit our joint action to protecting laws which allow free peaceful private conduct. In our collective efforts we will resist judging the merits of how people govern their peaceful private conduct (even when we might possess deeply held convictions about such conduct). Our silence about the private conduct of others does not imply that we condone all such conduct. It merely signifies that our collective concern is to ensure as free a sphere of private decision-making as may be consistent with public peace.

That said, we recognize that the conduct of any person which unduly trespasses upon anyone else or poses undue disruption to public peace may justify limitations to freedom, designed as narrowly as possible to prevent such undue trespass or disruption to public order and with high regard to the value of basic freedoms.

6. We will concern ourselves primarily with enactments which eliminate basic freedoms, *not* with individuals who fail to uphold laws protecting freedom. [5]

[5] Even in a state governed by laws which maximize freedom and democracy, some officials will act illegally in violating such laws. While such conduct is unacceptable, its consequences are limited to specific incidents which ought to be capable of judicial remedy.

It is far worse for those who govern to enact rules which deliberately make free peaceful private conduct illegitimate, because such rules have wide and general application and courts might feel themselves bound to enforce them. We will focus on restraining this latter form of abuse of power.

The opportunity to abuse power is not confined to legislatures only. It extends to any agency or individual to whom democratic legislatures have delegated rule-making authority. Examples include professional governing bodies known as Law Societies and Colleges of Physicians, administrators of public Universities, and others. The rules they enact may not strictly be considered legislation but may take the form of regulations, bylaws or other directives. We can refer to such rules as enactments.