Third-generation rancher William Caton believes the Liberal Party’s plan provides the best way forward to build a strong economy and a lasting environment.
He is the Liberal Party’s candidate in the Cypress Hills-Grasslands riding for the 2019 federal election. He considers the election campaign to be an opportunity to talk to people about how to build a better way of life while caring for the environment.
“I actually enjoy the chance to go out and try and explain how we could do things better,” he said.
Voter support for the Liberal Party in this riding has been weak for many elections, but he said people are actually willing to listen to what he has to say.
“They tell you they don't like Liberals, they don't like Trudeau, but then when you ask them why don't you like them, everybody has a different complaint,” he said. “They all think getting rid of Trudeau will fix it, but when you talk to them and try to point out the good stuff that the Liberal Party has done in the last four years, they come around. They don't say they're going to vote for you, but you can bring them around.”
He feels the Liberal Party’s plan provides the best option to address human caused climate change while also focusing on continued economic growth through a strategy to get pipelines build and establishing trade agreements to give Canadians businesses, including agriculture, access to other markets.
He believes agriculture, the climate crisis and pipelines are three key issues of relevance to voters in Cypress Hills-Grasslands.
He is convinced the best way to get pipelines build is to ensure compliance with strict environmental standards and to have discussions with indigenous communities.
“All indications are they're going to start building Trans Mountain next year,” he said. “The Liberals have done more to advance pipelines in four years than the Conservatives in 10. … Liberals think pipelines are important and the oil industry is important.”
He does not believe a Conservative Party government will have greater success to build a pipeline.
“I look at Harper's record,” he said. “He didn't get anything done, and I think it's because of their belligerent attitude.”
He noted that Trudeau has built consensus with aboriginal people and there are even negotiations to sell a piece of the Trans Mountain pipeline to indigenous groups.
“I think negotiation and making absolutely sure it's safe and making sure the aboriginal people are convinced that it will be beneficial to them, is the only way to do it,” he said. “You can't just bully people. … I think we'll have a way better chance with a Liberal government to negotiation and consensus, and make sure it's up to all the environmental standards.”
Agriculture is an important driving force in this vast rural riding, and the agricultural community is concerned about being able to get their products to market.
“If you're talking to farmers or ranchers, they're worried,” he said. “We're selling below break-even prices, because our exports have been stopped, and then this has been a wicked year for weather.”
He believes a re-elected Liberal government will continue to deal with issues of concern to the agricultural sector through trade negotiations, the broadening of existing markets, and efforts to establish new markets for agricultural goods.
According to Caton it makes no sense to blame the Trudeau government for the actions by other countries to raise artificial trade barriers.
“Everything he does is to make trade better,” he said. “I thought he did an extremely magnificent job to negotiate a new NAFTA with Trump and our other troubles with exports all go back to Trump's trade wars, like the fact that China has closed off so many products.”
Caton is a long-time environmentalist, and for that reason he has been a candidate for the Green Party in previous federal and provincial elections. He is concerned about climate change caused by human activity and the threat it presents to the planet. Political action is therefore necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“All I've heard from the Conservatives is that they're going to turn it over to industry and industry will deal with it, we don't have to worry about it,” he said. “I don't think that's a solution at all. That's just putting it off. If the Conservatives win the election, form government and do nothing for four years, we're just four more years closer to a disaster.”
He has been witnessing first-hand the changing climate on his ranch in the Cypress Hills, and in recent years these changes have become more extreme. He therefore supports a price on carbon as a way to reduce emissions and he also supports building green energy infrastructure.
“It's unbelievable to me how many people I talk to do not think that climate change or the climate crisis is real,” he said. “They just say it's fake news, and I don't know what you do with that. It's so obvious with the pictures of the Arctic melting or the Amazon burning. It's a little better than four years ago, but the ones who will admit finally that global warming is happening, they say there's no proof it's man-made. … It's an educational issue and so many people in this constituency just don't think there is a climate crisis. I just keep talking. I'll try to explain to them this is real and we don't have much time to do something.”
Reconciliation with indigenous peoples is an important issue for Caton, and he supports the Liberal Party’s goals to improve the quality of life of indigenous families and communities.
“Child poverty, the lack of education, the lack of clean drinking water,” he noted. We have to bring the aboriginal people of Canada with us and I think Justin Trudeau is on the right track.”
Voters will cast their ballots on Oct. 21 in the 2019 federal election. The other candidates in the Cypress Hills-Grasslands electoral district are Bill Clary (Green Party), Lee Harding (People’s Party of Canada), Maria Lewans (Independent), Jeremy Patzer (Conservative Party) and Trevor Peterson (New Democratic Party).