• Sat. May 21st, 2022

Cryptocurrencies are gaining traction among conservatives – here are some reasons why | national

ByHazel R. Lang

Apr 5, 2022

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner says she hopes her bill to help grow the cryptocurrency industry will get Canadian lawmakers talking about it in a non-polarized way.

The private member’s bill she introduced in February, which was due to be debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening, would require the government to consult with experts and create a plan for crypto assets within three years.

Many Canadians are still baffled by how digital currencies, like Bitcoin, work and even exist in Canada. Rempel Garner thinks regulators and lawmakers also feel lost.

Cryptocurrencies drew a lot of attention when protesters in major platforms blocked access to Parliament Hill for several weeks starting in January. Those involved turned to digital assets to raise donations after being dumped by GoFundMe and seeing funds generated by another online fundraising site frozen by an Ontario court.

“We have this kind of rigid bias, where… ‘crypto is the devil, this is terrible, it’s going to ruin your life crypto is the saviour, it’s going to set all things free,'” Rempel Garner said Tuesday.

“It’s really oversimplified.”

Fellow MP and candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, is among those touting cryptocurrencies as an answer to the country’s current economic woes.

Rempel Garner is working on the campaign of Poilievre leadership rival Patrick Brown.

Last week, Poilievre, who is a Bitcoin user himself, said digital currencies could help Canadians “get out of inflation” and pledged to make the country friendlier to them.

He said he believed Canadians should have “more financial freedom” while politicians and bankers should have less financial control. Freedom has been the main theme of Poilievre’s campaign since its launch in February.

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe says buying digital assets doesn’t protect anyone from price swings. In fact, he says, Bitcoin can be very volatile for those involved.

“It’s about putting crypto out there as a sort of cure for the inflation challenges that we’re seeing. And it’s not – not now, and it wouldn’t even be the case in a hypothetical world where we just use crypto,” he said.

Tombe said the main driver of inflation right now is rising oil prices, and digital currencies won’t change that.

“It doesn’t matter what currency you use to value barrels of oil,” he said. “If you take a certain number of barrels off the market, like we did after Russia invaded Ukraine, then you’re going to see prices go up. Similarly, during recessions, when demand drops, you will see the prices go down.”

Rempel Garner said the idea that Bitcoin could be used to hedge against inflation has not been tested over a period of time when inflation has been sustained. Additionally, she says its volatility could cause problems for anyone considering using Bitcoin as a way to pay people for their work.

Bruce MacLellan, CEO of Proof Strategies, which surveys Canadians’ levels of trust, said Poilievre may think his message on freedom and cryptocurrencies is a winner for a segment of the conservative base — and those who champion the freedom as an ideal – Proof’s research suggests this would not resonate more widely.

“Canadians’ confidence in our banks is very stable,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Right now, crypto has a massive reputation and trust issue.”

He says his connection to the convoy protest doesn’t help matters. Like other new sectors, such as cannabis and artificial intelligence, Canadians are curious but cautious about cryptocurrencies, which have also been reported to be favored by criminals and hackers.

“It’s a pretty problematic brand association.”

At the same time, MacLellan says there’s a lot of appeal in freedom messaging right now among center-right voters. He says their research suggests members of the Conservative Party tend to be less confident than those who belong to the Liberal Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois.

“The number of people who don’t trust Canadian banks or financial markets, it’s a perfect market opportunity for Bitcoin.”

For several years, MacLellan said he’s seen trust levels plummet across the Prairies, which is also home to many of the Conservative base.

As with other emerging industries, he says what they find helps build trust is actually more regulation, which goes against messages of less government.

“People aren’t just going to pick up a flyer and decide, ‘Oh, well, yeah, I don’t need to go to Royal Bank anymore because I have my crypto account,'” he said. declared.

This is not Canadian behavior. »

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2022

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