Back from the Brink

So the election is over. Finally.

In one of my favorite comedy TV shows, Arrested Development, the character Gob uses the same line over and over again saying,  “I’ve made a huge mistake.” I felt this way often during the election, especially early on.

Sorry for the lack of relevant blog posts. We lost some blog readers, complaining that they had subscribed to read about homesteading and off-grid living. My response is that if we don’t do something about climate change… SOON… there won’t be any of the above.

This election campaign really did come at the absolute worst time… EVER! Luckily I had told the riding association that if it was called during planting season I would only be able to do media interviews and All Candidates Meetings. Who knew that in a rural riding like ours there could be so many newspapers and radio stations? Oh and CKWS TV in Kingston too. The biggest challenge with the media stuff was that the reporters wanted to set times for interviews and it really screwed me up when it came to getting any momentum going in the garden.

The All Candidates Meetings were my introduction to the twilight zone. I have to admit I’m not sure I’d ever been to one as an observer. I never felt I needed to because I have always been pretty decided about my vote. I am very comfortable talking in front of people, but I have to admit to a few moments of stark terror before my first All Candidates Meeting in Arden, just north of here. I guess it was fear of the unknown. And the fact that I had read through the 100-page policy manual and was pretty comfortable with most of the issues, but still, I was there representing a political party. I am usually talking about things I’m really comfortable with. It turns out that I managed to very quickly turn most of the questions to issues I’m very comfortable with.

Any nerves didn’t last long as the pit bulls on my left and right went at it. I must say I was appalled for much of it. It was blood sport. “You did this.” “You did that.” Your party caused all the problems of the world; the bright future is the exclusive domain of mine. Really? Do you really think that way? Have you become so partisan that this is how you see the world?

It was readily apparent to me that most of the audience was getting pretty tired of the whole process. I refined my most effective line, which I used after a particularly raucous round of rancor where the two main parties went at it. When it was my turn to respond I just clenched my fists, and pointed my thumbs to the candidates on each side of me and said “And that is why you should vote Green.” I didn’t need to say anything else. It got applause every time. People seemed fed up with the animosity and bickering.

Now that it’s over and the garden is fairly caught up I’m glad I did it. It was a great learning experience. There were some great moments. Some really nice supportive emails after each All Candidates Meetings. A 9 year old girl named “Ocean” came up to me after the Napanee debate to tell me she was supporting the Green Party.

Women were the most refreshing part of the whole thing. I was onstage with 3 other men. Way too much testosterone. After the Carleton Place ACM I had a charming young woman come up to me and say “Thank you for being so respectful.” Too bad there was no Mr. Congeniality award. Former Green Party Candidate Nancy Matte had brought her 13-year-old daughter Samantha to that meeting which was nice. ACMs tend to be attended by people like me… with grey hair. Young people were sorely lacking. I had a long chat with another woman after that meeting who wanted to vote Green but found the prospect scary. I did my best to dispel those fears.

Then, the weirdest thing ever happened. I was standing at the McDonalds in Perth at 10 pm after that meeting ordering a coffee to get me through my hour long drive home. I was the only one at the counter. There was the usual chatter with employees then a young female voice asked, “Are you just getting back from Carleton Place?” It took me the longest time to realize she was addressing me. Turns out she had been to the All Candidates Meeting the previous night in Smiths Falls and knew there was a meeting in Carleton Place that night. I told her how impressed I was that she’d been to the meeting the previous night. I have a feeling she was too young to vote though, but at least we might have another vote next election.

This election hasn’t changed anything. The government will continue to fight about trivial issues and ignore the one issue that threatens humanity. It’s what I said often, at every opportunity I could during the election, “the system is broken.” Political parties are controlled by policy wonks and spin-doctors and they only want to win power. They do NOT want to do what’s right. The right thing to do would be talk about climate change. The right thing to do is to put a price on carbon and help the population get unhooked from fossil fuels. It really wouldn’t be that hard. The right thing to do is to tell the population that climate change is a clear and present danger, that it threatens humanity and that we must make tough choices today to stop it. That’s why we elect representatives to government. To look at the big picture and make the right choices.

Cowards ignore it. People obsessed with power for its own sake are driving our bus towards a cliff and don’t have the intestinal fortitude to be honest with the populace. Say anything to get into power. Distract the electorate. Disrespect the opposition. Distance yourself from any issue that might prevent you from getting into power. Good grief. I’ll retire to bedlam.

Up next time a shiny happy homesteading off-grid blog about trees and growing food and happy chickens and the beauty that surrounds our little piece of paradise in the woods. For now. Until climate change arrives? But first, a few good nights sleep. And please, no more talk about politics. For now.

* * * * * * *

Michelle’s Note: Cam got 3,266 votes, or 6.5% of the vote share. During the last provincial election the Green Party candidate in this riding got 1,748 votes, or 3.9%.

17 Responses to “Back from the Brink”

  • Even though I’m not in your riding, I also very much appreciate that you took the time to share the beauty and common sense of the Green Party at candidates meetings, on tv, and radio. I think I would have been one of the many that didn’t vote if there wasn’t the Green option. I’m also glad that you did some of the ‘political’ blog posts, because it is definitely connected to living a more sustainable life.

  • Nancy Matte:

    Every person you touch is a step towards change. Thank you for dedicating yourself as a candidate at this election.

    Now back to living sustainably in your everyday life!

  • Tricia:

    You rock Cam. That’s all that needs to be said!

  • Thank you for continuing the good fight. I’ll be continuing to follow your blog, and to live as green as possible in my circumstances.

  • Congratulations, Cam and Michelle – on your efforts Every Single Day. Enjoy the Honey Moon.

  • How long do I have to leave the Green Party sign up on my lawn?
    With much respect and appreciation

  • Terri Alice:

    Sadly, they will keep doing what they are doing until they no longer can. Impossible for the powers that be to reverse course. Their only strategy is to delay their fall as long as possible and that means sacrificing all else. As an unwilling part of the american empire I have no delusions regarding any good coming from my government. I am fortunate to live in a rural area near a small town in a county of only 17,000 inhabitants. That means there is some ability to influence change.
    We were just able to elect a county Supervisor in my district who “gets it”. As one of five Supes on the board it is still a huge uphill struggle, but at least there will be an articulation of the crucial issues and perhaps some consciousness raising. The real work will, of course, continue to be done by a small percentage of folks like you two.

  • Your politics in Canada sound very similar to those here in Alaska only we don’t have a Green Party but rather have the Alaska Independence Party as a choice! Thanks for putting in all the effort and energy as it does take time to change the world. Otherwise it would be easy. I also do not understand why some my have dropped off the blog as the fight to save the world has many fronts and they must all be addressed. Thank you.

  • Sandra Parker:

    Congratulations Cam! Anyone willing to stand up and spread a new message shows true bravery. A movement always has to start somewhere, and we should tip our hats to the pioneers of these movements.
    You are right, the system is broken. But people are so afraid of changing the status quo that they will live with what they know.
    Eventually your philosophy will spread. Already I see a huge difference in the amount of people living green than when I first became aware of the concept. It always starts slowly, and gradually becomes our normal in life.
    You did great, you should be proud. And give Michelle a big kiss for all the hrd work I’m sure she did behind the scenes. 🙂

  • Robert Hammond:

    Once again you and your support team of Michelle have fought the good fight. Congratulations to you both.
    When this election is being dissected in backroom discussions by the party strategists they will notice that the green popular vote % is up across the province.
    I’m disappointed and surprised to hear that readers dropped off the blog. What did they want? Happy tales of chickens and vegetables with no messy details about the rest of the world.

  • Gerrit and Antoinette:

    Congratulations Cam! And Michelle! You did a brave and necessary thing at the worst possible time for your business. We voted Green here also. I’m sorry you lost some readers over this. Perhaps if you continue to keep the green activism prominent alongside the homesteading and renewables material, new readers will sign up who also appreciate that we must address climate change alongside tending to our little patch of earth. I sure hope you continue your Green party work and keep us posted along the way.

  • Glee:

    Congratulations on making an impact. It’s important. It sounds as if you made some progress even though you didn’t “win” which would have been a loss for us.

    I had a short (very short) excursion into that realm (politics). It’s definitely not for me. I didn’t find genuine people, honest people, kind people, or gentle people at the top there. I just keep telling myself that the meek shall inherit the Earth. Maybe then we will be able to clean it up! Now back to the real war – greening the Earth one place at a time. Here we all are in the Green Army. Welcome back General Mather !

  • Jeff:

    Thanks for fighting the good fight. I voted Green for the first time in this election. In no small part because of your blog. Unfortunately I don’t live in your riding though. I think it will take a generation before the Greens rival the current main 3 parties but it will happen.

    In the meantime, catch your breath, keep doing what you can for the environment and I hope to see you on the campaign trail again in 4 years.

  • ellen:

    Congrats Cam on a well-run election at a time when you could least afford to be away from the garden! It is nice to see that at least the percentage of people voting green continues to climb – the question – will it be in time?

    Hugs from Jerry and I

  • Donald MacIntyre:

    Post Election
    Well that was interesting. As each election comes along it seems to get harder and harder to endure. Thank god we do not have to suffer through the sick drama of an American election system. My wife, my next door neighbour and I have mulled over who not to vote for in the past few months to no avail and finally left the decision until we had to mark something on the ballet. This is how I came to voting for you. I was looking for the NDP candidate (our protest vote choice) when I noticed your name. Having read your blogs for a while I felt that at least here was someone that was A honest, and B had a reasonably good handle on the real problems of the world.
    It is not surprising to me that you did not win as most people will vote for a particular party unless they can see clearly that they murdered their kids and even then they will do it as a one time protest until the next election.
    It is interesting to me that only in politics can you get off scot free for committing fraud. If I or any one of my fellow insurance company associates had committed fraud on the scale of the gas plant deal we could expect a lengthy stay in one of our nice prisons. I retired as a crime stoppers director primarily due to an overwhelming sense of guilt over what we are doing to our youth and their future. (School presentations)

    Just thought I would let you know that you are not alone even though at times it does feel that way.


  • Cam, I think you did a fantastic job and I just wanted to share a couple of observations with you (and the other readers).

    I’m not a resident in Cam’s riding, although I did get to vote in the neighboring riding, and I’m not (yet) a Green Party member. On the day before the election, I decided I should take my responsibilities as a voter seriously and compare the policies of the four major parties side-by-side and decide objectively which set of policies I should vote for. I was unable to do this because the other three parties (Liberal, Progressive Conservative and NDP) didn’t publish any policies. Seriously. I spent an hour on all of their websites trying to find anything which looked like a manifesto or platform, and the only party which published a clear manifesto was the Green Party. The rest was all spin, clever website design, happy smiley faces and negative campaigning against the other parties. So I voted Green by default, but it made me think that in future I should really become a more active Green Party supporter and join up.

    Secondly, also on the day before the election, my daughter who is 12 got to vote in mock elections which were held in schools across Ontario, and the vote from the kids was more than 50% Green. This is encouraging, but it remains to be seen whether they will all turn into Progressive Conservatives when they grow up.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Pat Nobbs & Lauder Smith:

    Thank you Cam for not hiding under a row of beans and instead taking the time and effort to share your insight and concern for the direction that humanity is taking. Your courage and ability to communicate in a straight forward effective manner got people thinking and considering new possibilities. Your results were gratifying and showed potential. This was an election where fear of the Conservative vision drove many of our supporters to vote Liberal. Your support was much higher than your vote count.

    WELL DONE !!

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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