Bill Caton will be wearing his Liberal hat for his fifth federal election campaign in the Cypress Hills Grasslands Constituency.
Caton ran this past election in 2015 as a Green Party candidate, but he had previously been the Liberal nominee in the 2006 and 2004 elections. During his inaugural political campaign in 2000 he was the Progress Conservative candidate who ran agains then Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance candidate David Anderson.
“I burnt my soapbox after the last election I swore I’d never do it again, but here we go,” he chuckled during an interview this past week.
He said the realistic climate change strategy laid out by the Liberal Party is what attracted him back to the Liberal fold.
“I’m real Green. I’m worried about the climate crisis and environmental degradation,” he said as the reason for running as a Green party candidate in recent provincial and federal elections.
However with the Green party gaining only two or three per cent of the vote, he said that the Liberals have the best chance of making inroads to improving the environment.
“I think Trudeau can get the Green agenda done. If anybody can, he can,” he said. “The best plan for building a green infrastructure in the next four years is with the Liberal government, and I’m going to do everything I can to help them form the government.”
Caton said action needs to be taken now in order to have an impact on Climate Change.
“First it was Global Warming, then it was Climate Change, but now it is Climate Crisis. We’ve only have two or three decades. The feedback loops are going to kick in. And there’s lots of scientists think it’s already too late, but I refuse to give up hope. We should try. We should try and save ourselves.”
“The Green Party’s got a lot of good ideas, but I think we’ve got to move in the next four years. We’ve got to make a move on a green economy, and I think our only hope is Justin Trudeau. Andrew Scheer’s going to turn it over to industry. Give me a break.”
He also said there is too much rhetoric around the issue of a Carbon Tax instead of a realization that reduced carbon has a positive impact.
“That’s such a dog whistle. For one thing it’s not a tax. It’s putting a price on making carbon dioxide which is destroying the environment. I think it’s well thought out the way he’s giving it back right on your income tax. If you read the Liberal documents, the average household of four will receive more than they paid out in extra energy costs.”
“BC and California have shown that it brings the amount of carbon dioxide down. BC’s booming. It’s working for them and not hurting their economy.”
Caton, who is a third generation cattle rancher, also wants to shine a brighter light on agriculture issues during the campaign.
“We’re walking into another crisis here for agriculture – it’s the weather and trade wars,” he said.
“In the cattle business we just came through two years of drought, but the aggravation on top of that is Trump’s trade war has taken $200 to $300 off the price of my calves last fall, and it’s going to do it again this year. So a cow-calf producer is below break even.”
He said the Liberals have been working on solutions, but it has been difficult to get a strategy consensus because of the numerous farm groups around the strategy table.
He said he has not be gouged as a producer as a result of the action of the Liberals since they were elected.
“To me Harper was such a mean spirited Prime Minister and the things that he did to family farmers and small ranchers when he was in power, it just broke another hope. The ones that were hanging on he finished them off.”
He pointed to what he called Harper’s pro agri-business agenda, his selling off of the Canadian Wheat Board, and giving back PFRA Community Pastures.
“There’s still a few family farmers left, but I don’t know how they can survive. They can’t get their grain to the main line, all that extra cost. And they’ve got nowhere to pasture their calves now because Harper gave that to Wall and Wall sold it to the big money guys. They don’t have the money to buy into this BS. The cattle industry is pretty much been turned over to the big players.”
He said he’s been battling for 38 years to keep his own family ranch, but is getting squeezed by agri-business and corporate controlled everything.
“That’s why I jumped in. I don’t know what I can do to help. It’s such a Conservative constituency. But try and keep the Liberal voice here as strong as we can. It isn’t all Conservative here.”