Hello, my name is Doug Mason.
I am a relatively recent active member of the political arena. It was the G8/G20 fiasco of 2010 in Toronto that was the kick in the butt to get me moving, and frankly it was primarily the federal scene that I was paying attention to. Although I was supporting the Greens financially, the first time I ever put up an election lawn sign was for Stephane Dion and his Green Shift plan (a plan endorsed by Elizabeth May and the GPC). I foolishly continued voting strategically in the next election for Dion’s replacement – ouch!
Although I was drawn to the Greens because of the environment my more pressing concern, highlighted by the G8/G20 mess, was for democracy. So my first act was to step outside my comfort zone and, in 2011/2012, produce a weekly radio program at Trent Radio, a Trent University/community station in Peterborough – I was going to save the world with a program about activism! There I was, in my mid fifties and still so naive…I knew nothing about activism. But the show produced good results, for me at least, because of the people I met, the connections I made, and the ideas I was introduced to. I became more aware of local problems of homelessness and mental health issues, of regional and provincial issues dealing with hospitals, doctor shortages, the nuclear energy insanity, and much more. I met the people that really were the activists of the past – and went to jail to prove it, and many that remain passionate, energetic activists in the trenches today. As I researched for program ideas I rediscovered a hero I had forgotten: Alan Borovoy, who we recently lost, formerly of Canadian Civil Liberties Association. I keep some of his words of wisdom posted on my ‘fridge:
“Pressure without reason is irresponsible.
Reason without pressure is ineffectual.”
Alan Borovoy speaking to Africville gathering, 1989
I also surprised and shocked myself to realize I shared common ground with someone definitely not thought of as a hero: Ezra Levant, that boisterous, no holds barred defender (so he claims) of free speech.
Following my year long stint at Trent Radio I went looking for a way to contribute to my local community and the world at large, I have explored and worked occasionally with the following groups: Council of Canadians; For Our Grandchildren (4RG), a climate action group; Peterborough Peace Council; and Transition Town Peterborough, a group that advocates and prepares for our transition away from fossil fuels. I’ll continue to associate with all but look forward to a more intense connection to Transition Town.
It was through Transition Town that I made connections with 2 other Green Party members both of whom had been candidates in previous elections. Together we took the initiative to re-establish the Peterborough GPO CA in time for the last provincial election. We went on to re-vitalize the GPC EDA in Peterborough. I am currently the president of GPO in Peterborough and I was also the GPC candidate for last year’s federal election.
Writing this, I have reminded myself that I did in fact have a history of volunteering and advocacy before the shock of Harper’s and McGuinty’s G8/G20. In the late 1990s, because of my hobby of beekeeping I became involved with a local farm advocacy group in the Peterborough area (Farm Comes To Town) which put on an annual one day presentation for upwards of 500 grade 4 students. A lot of intense organizing for a lot of enthusiastic students. As a result of my connections there, I went on to represent the Peterborough area on the board of a provincial organization called Ontario Agri-Food Education (OAFE). During this time I contributed to plans for outreach to schools as well as to the governance of the organization.
When I now reflect on these 2 different avenues to advocacy/activism I recognize the different effects they’ve had on me. On the one hand, back in the 90s it was a pleasure to help others learn about and enjoy looking after the nature that we have domesticated. But in 2010 I was just pissed off! I was mad at them for being jerks and mad at myself for staying on the sidelines so long. And this again reminds me of Alan Borovoy and some advice I heard him give, I’ll paraphrase: you have to enjoy yourself along the way, play the imp when it suits, avoid the burn out.
Nil Carborundum Illegitimo
Well… that was a bit more than I planned on writing!