Step One in My Quest for World Domination

Many years ago when we lived in the city we got press coverage for our many various environmental initiatives like how little garbage we produced (one bag every 8 weeks), choosing to ride our bikes instead of driving, and that kind of thing.  Frank De Jong, who was the leader of the provincial Green Party, came to our house regularly for dinner and to ask me to run for the Green Party. I always declined. When we moved to this off-grid piece of paradise Frank came here and asked me again, and again I declined. Michelle and I were burned out on the whole environmental movement and we had decided to just quietly live as responsibly as we could. We were going to go quietly into the night.

In 2003 my uncle convinced me to get involved with workshops he was doing across the province on renewable energy, which in turn lead to us editing, and writing, and laying out his magazine “Private Power” and then convincing Bill Kemp to write “The Renewable Energy Handbook.” And like Michael Coreleone said in The Godfather, “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.” So for the last decade, Michelle and I have published books and done presentations about living sustainably, including the workshops we offer here at the house, and organized Green Energy Fairs, etc.

Late last summer the Green Party asked me to speak at a fundraiser. I said no. I had spent the summer trying to grow food in the midst of an epic drought and I was burned out … and depressed about the whole climate change thing. I had given in to the laziness of despair.

Then I saw a video of U.S. Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein getting arrested trying to get into the debates and I thought, what a whiner Cam. This was around the time that Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May was voted “Parliamentarian of the Year.” And I thought if these fantastic role models could keep plugging away, so can I. So I finally agreed to talk at a Green Party fundraiser.

The fundraiser in November seemed very last minute and I had sort of resigned myself to talking to the 10 people who showed up. But lo and behold, 80 people showed up! There was an incredible dinner provided. The room was full of activity and really positive energy. I did my usual low carbon spiel then asked if they wanted to hear my take on the wind debate. In Ontario there has been vigorous pushback against the provincial government’s progressive Green Energy Act, which provides fair incentives for solar and wind projects. Wind turbines have been demonized, by a few people and in the press, as causing horrific health effects, as being gigantic blenders shredding every avian creature for miles, altering the climate and attracting wayward asteroids to the planet. Okay I made up that last one, but the response has been to wind turbines has been, well bizarre. So I suggested because they identified themselves as “green,” they were probably getting the same pushback and perhaps they’d like some talking points.

So I went through my points in which I attempt to put a true cost on our nuclear plants where insurance, disposal of waste and decommissioning have yet to show up on anyone’s electricity bill. These costs will be tens of billions dollars, with a legacy of thousands of years of lethal waste.

And the response was very enthusiastic. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever had such a boisterous round of applause to any of my talks. Apparently going from a rant to a tirade can work sometimes. It was at this time that Lauder Smith, who has been a regular Green Party representative at my Green Energy Fairs and has hassled me mercilessly to be their candidate stood up and said “…and that’s why Cam should be our Green Party Candidate for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington.”

And that is where I find myself today, the candidate for the Green Party in a very large, rural, and very Conservative riding. Hence the quote, “I will not give in to the laziness of despair.” I’m back in the game, for now.

In most ridings in Canada the Green Party comes in 4th place behind the (right leaning) Conservatives, the (left but sort of right center) Liberals, and the (pretty left) New Democratic Party. Our province has been governed by the Liberal Party for about a decade. Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty recently stepped down because he had become unpopular, even though he had basically given everyone everything they wanted for the last 10 years. Now the province has a $12 billion deficit and a debt of about $250+ billion. Nice work if you can find it. Make a mess and then bail.

McGuinty’s successor Kathleen Wynne finds herself in a minority situation and will bring in a budget in April. The opposition Conservatives have said that they will vote against the budget, which leaves the NDP holding the balance of power. The NDP have asked for lots of stuff including a 15% reduction in car insurance rates. I look at the whole mess as Nero fiddling while Rome burns. In my view there is only one issue, and that’s preserving a habitable planet, but just like in the U.S. Presidential election, climate change and a response to it are not even on the table.

And so I will be bringing this issue to the electorate in my riding and putting forth a plan that will see a price put on carbon in a revenue neutral way, with a corresponding reduction in their income tax. Most will see it as simply an evil carbon tax and will dismiss it. My challenge will be how to frame climate change in a way that will speak to people. How do you convince people that in this case their personal self-interest is not in their or their children’s’ long-term interest? How do you convince people that we must maintain “the commons” so that life on the planet is sustainable, or at least possible? How will I react to voters who are really angry about wind turbines and who are convinced that solar panels have caused their electricity bills to rise (which when you look at the numbers has really had minimal effect)?

I have been reading the Green Party of Ontario Policy Book to familiarize myself with more of our platform, even though my gut level response is simply to answer “price on carbon, price on carbon, price on carbon” to every issue. I have been attending planning meetings of the Green Party, which has taken me away from blogging as well lately.

The Liberal Government could fall in April if they don’t give the NDP enough of what they want. An election could be called for the spring. Or summer. Or fall. Who knows? It doesn’t matter, it will be bad timing for me. I’ll be planting, or watering, or harvesting or getting “The Sensible Prepper” to the printers. But really, what’s the use of me focusing on my own personal stuff when my reading has convinced me the planet is in imminent peril and we must act aggressively and act now?

After I am elected and serve my time in the Provincial Legislature it is my intention to take over for Elizabeth May federally and become Prime Minister of Canada. And Canada will become the “greenest” country on the planet! A green tide will sweep the planet! Dogs and cats will live together in peace and harmony. And everyone will get free donuts! It’s gonna be a wild ride!

Cam Mather eureka we have wind

21 Responses to “Step One in My Quest for World Domination”

  • GW gave me a long, wet growing season this year and is killing off the city leeches who suck life out of the planet and yet pretend they are green because they consume less than me (while producing nothing of environmental value to offset it).

  • SteveR:

    To change anything of what you have in mind, you will have convince this guy and his sons – where the true power lies in Canada:


  • Rita Marsh:

    I would vote for you if I lived in Canada!

  • j:

    A carbon tax high enough to actually cut co2 emissions would probably also cause the economy to collapse a little before it’s time. (…after that, any green government wouldn’t last very long – think revolution 😉 )

    Good luck anyway.

  • SteveR:

    And on the 3rd day you will be assassinated.
    I’ve been a Green Party supporter for the last 10 years in 3 different countries ( yes, I can vote in 3 countries!) but rallying around a carbon tax is political suicide. Why would you want to give the Banksters an unlimited commodity to trade and corrupt?

    You’re better off rallying around the work that Amory Lovins has done and demonstrating that efficiency drives bottom line results. Green business is good business sense. The economic system is based on competition so make being the greenest a competitive sport. Find efficient/profitable businesses to back up your claim and get business on your side!

  • Cathy:

    Excellent news!

  • Cam,

    Good luck with that. As someone whose politics is somewhat to the right of Ghengis Khan let me say that I respect what you do even if I do not agree with all of it.

    When it comes to carbon taxes I must disagree. We have enough tax already! The liberals have already bled us white, between new taxes and new fees there is no way you will sell another tax.

    Why not try to lead us with a carrot instead of a stick. Want to reduce the amount of driving?
    How about an income tax break for people that live close to their work instead of more tax on fuel. Reduce the credit based on distance.

    How about a tax credit based on the number of miles that you drive. If you only drive 5-10 K a year bit tax credit. 10-20 Smaller tax credit etc.

    If you are determined that you need to put a carbon tax in then I suggest you use the time honored tradition of politicians the world over and lie.

    Best of luck and keep us informed. I am sure it will lead to some fascinating posts if nothing else.

  • Cam Mather:

    Thanks everyone! I’m even more determined that ever to get elected! Cam

  • Mike the Carpenter:

    “I had given in to the laziness of despair.” I disagree Cam. You not only live responsibly, you educate and motivate others to live a greener lifestyle through your books, workshops and this blog. All three take precious time away from your family and other obligations. Yet you somehow make time; you follow through on your commitment to greener living and to teaching others how to do the same. You should feel proud.
    I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for quite a while now. It’s inspired me to be more environmentally conscious and to someday follow your footsteps into off-grid living. You make a difference in the lives of your readers and help them make a difference in the global environment. And it doesn’t stop there. Your readers have friends and each person they share your lessons with furthers the effect of your efforts. And now you have the opportunity to reach even more folks as the Green Party candidate.
    Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Well YOU are definitely doing something. You educate; you inspire. The ripples are growing in ever-widening circles. Thanks Cam.
    By the way, if you get elected PM, I will definitely move from the U.S. to Canada… and it won’t be for the free donuts.

  • So…….you’re planning on living in Toronto while you’re an MPP for the next 4 years? Will Michelle be taking over everything on the farm? Won’t Jasper and the ‘girls’ miss you? Hmmmm…

  • I don’t think convincing the masses is as big a job as convincing the special interests. There in lies the problem.

  • Cameron:

    It is good to hear that you are not giving up. I was a little worried about you after some of your posts late summer/early fall. I believe you are doing the right thing and it is incredibly important that you keep the fight going. We need more people like yourself stepping up and taking the fight to the next level. Good luck.

  • Thank you for the delicate explanation of Canadian’s response to windpower. I had posted a musing on Wind Power with my painting Summer Breeze, and was told by one of my Canadian followers that I might as well be romancing toilets! I’m finding the acceptance of wind much wider south of your border. Good Luck in your quest, and let’s hope your weather experience last summer was an anomaly rather than a trend.

  • Good luck with your campaign. Our Green Party in Maine is holding our convention in May. Jill Stein will be one of the speakers. I’ve been elected to our town budget committee and am trying to bring Green values to the table. Change has to start locally and then spread to larger areas. Hope you can come in better than 4th place.

  • Paul:

    Between you and Elizabeth May (and some of the other politicians who actually work for the good of us all) we CAN change the world. All you need is persistence !!! Hang in there Cam.

  • Gwen Lennox:

    Good for you Cam! Politics may drive me crazy, but it’s important to be informed and involved.

  • Gerrit:

    Great news! We Green Party members need more people like yourself and Michelle to present themselves for public service. Antoinette and I wish you both all the best and success in the election.

  • I’d like to design the party’s uniforms, banners etc.

  • Connie Murray:

    Good for you, Cam! Hope you succeed in all you venture to try. There are so many other areas that need to be addressed it sometimes seems overwhelming but climate change seems like a good start. Keep writing about, keep speaking about, keep it in the forefront and people will come around. Even the US Navy is working on combating climate change. After having lived thru the epi-center of Hurricane Sandy, we all need to speak up. Persistence always pays off!

  • Bruce Hampson:

    You’ve got my vote. Wish we had someone like you here in Nova Scotia

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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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