From Ayn Rand to Pints, Pool & Politics

From Ayn Rand to Pints, Pool & Politics

July 06, 2020

Want to know where some of the most talented, motivated and energetic Conservatives are found in Canada?

Right here in Edmonton Strathcona, at the University of Alberta.

The U of A Conservatives were formed in January of this year from the amalgamation of two legacy clubs. Matthew Melbourn, a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in history and minoring in economics, was elected founding President of the newly formed group.

Matthew Melbourn

Right out of the gate in January the 150-strong member group went to work. Before things shut down with COVID in early March, they’d welcomed leadership candidates Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, had others lined up, hosted two other successful events, and began aggressively expanding membership.

That is hugely impressive. Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a Conservative on most university campuses in Canada.

“Believe me, I know about that,” said Matthew on in a recent call from his home in Calgary. “I started with a major in political science and couldn’t believe the anti-conservative bias I saw in classes and among faculty. I remember raising Ayn Rand in class one day and the prof said to me that in no way whatsoever would ‘that vile woman’s name’ be raised in his class.”

Rand is the famed Russian-born, American writer-philosopher who, at the height of Stalinism in the 1940’s and 50’s,  wrote two epic novels – Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead – which opposed collectivism and instead called for what she called “laissez-faire capitalism”, based on individual and property rights.

“I read Ayn Rand when I was fifteen,” said Matthew, “and was bitten forever. Any political science class that won’t debate Ayn Rand is not for me.”

Matthew’s no stranger to taking heat for his views, and standing tall when it comes at him. He served as the Events Coordinator for the United Conservatives at the University of Alberta’s infamous “Pints, Politics, and Pool” event on March 6th, 2019 with Jason Kenney during the 2019 Alberta provincial election which saw protestors come out in mass to try and shut down the event. Here's a link to a story on the event posted on the U of A’s “Gateway” student newspaper.

He spoke out to the CBC on his views about the efficacy of Greta Thunberg’s October 2018 Alberta tour, and the UCP election earning him 300 hate comments on the CBC Edmonton Facebook page.

“That’s just a necessary hazard of the job,” he says, shrugging it off, “and I guess part of the price for adhering to libertarian principles.”

He is now in the process of completing his honours thesis on the economic history of western alienation; which aims to tackle how the economic policies of the federal government have historically impacted the material-economic development of the Canadian West.

Matthew and the U of A Conservative club have ambitious goals.

University of Alberta Conservatives

“We want to keep pushing the envelope to open constructive dialogues with students. We want to offer students opportunities to engage with real Conservatives to learn first-hand what it we really stand for,” he said.

“We’re all going to challenge misinformation surrounding Canada’s energy industry, the defence of individual rights, freedom of expression, and educate our fellow students about the dramatic consequences of our government debt for their generation.”

Over the next several weeks and months I’m going to work hard and connect with and try to earn the support of as many of the U of A Conservative Club members as I can.

If I’m successful in the Conservative nomination in Edmonton Strathcona, this group is a powerful and motivated force that will play a huge role in bringing our riding back into the blue column.

And if so, I know an Ayn Rand supporter who will hopefully be playing a big role in that.


- Rick Peterson


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