ECCENTRIC ‘STONE DAN’ RUNNING AS GADFLY, NOT TO WIN
Doug Pederson is running as a candidate locally in the provincial election, but he won’t be voting for himself.
The 64-year-old retired computer programmer lives in Osoyoos with his nephew’s family and is running as an independent candidate.
“I think I’ll vote Green,” said Pederson, who acknowledges he won’t win. “I’m sticking to my own promise of never voting for somebody twice.”
Pederson voted for himself when he ran as an independent in the federal riding of Yellowhead, Alberta in 1993. In that election he finished dead last among eight candidates with 202 votes compared to the winner’s 22,790.
“I painted my head yellow,” he said, recalling his previous run at politics. “It was hilarious.”
Why wouldn’t he boost his slim chances just a little by voting for himself once again? After all, it’s been 20 years.
There’s nothing worse than career politicians, he says, adding that if everyone followed his policy of never voting for the same politician more than once, there would be no need to worry about any of them cashing in on generous pensions.
He singles out Liberal candidate Linda Larson as a “career politician” even though as a long-serving municipal politician she has never done politics full time.
He also attacks NDP candidate Sam Hancheroff for being an educator and Conservative Mischa Popoff for his views on organic farming, which Pederson believes play into the hands of agribusinesses like Monsanto.
“These forums that I go to, I’ll be attacking,” said Pederson referring to the all-candidates forums where he will appear. “Straight out I’ll be giving each one of them crap.”
Pederson admits that he isn’t running to get elected. Rather, he sees himself as a gadfly, there to ask tough questions and put forward his ideas.
“I ran in 1993 to get elected,” said Pederson. “But this time I’m running to fight the election of bad people. Good people don’t get into the parties.”
Although Pederson is the only independent candidate to step forward so far, the bar to running is set quite low. Those wishing to run need to pay a deposit of $250 and submit signatures of 75 eligible nominators from their electoral district.
Unless a candidate receives at least 15 per cent of the vote, they forfeit the deposit. Candidates must file papers by 1 p.m. on April 26.
“You don’t really have a chance,” Pederson says of running as an independent.
One of the reasons is that all-candidates forums are run with planted questions, he believes, and the questions put forward aren’t tough and don’t address the issues people care about.
People here are interested in food sovereignty and stopping GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, he says. They also are upset about plans by FortisBC to impose “smart meters,” which he says are scary because “we get too many electronic vibes already.”
He also wants complete transparency in politics.
“The most important thing is honesty,” said Pederson. “If you don’t have honesty, you’re corrupt. If you want secrecy, it’s because you’re doing something illegal.”
Pederson believes corruption is rampant in politics and government. Those from the level of deputy minister down at least two or three levels are corrupt, he says.
“I haven’t come across a town yet that isn’t crooked,” he adds.
Churches, chambers of commerce, lobbyists and corporations are also corrupt in his view. In fact, he would force corporations to disband after 50 years because otherwise they become powerful monopolies.
He saves some of his harshest criticism for the education system, which he says makes people more stupid – especially teachers.
“I knew a guy who was 20 and he got into education and at 40 he was stupider,” says Pederson. “He spent his whole career around eight and ten year olds. You don’t get smarter doing that. You work in an insane asylum and you come out of there nutty … My dad had a Grade 3 education and he was the smartest in our family without a doubt.”
Instead, Pederson says he’s “forever” been an advocate for marijuana.
“I’d almost make it mandatory,” he said. “The people that come out against marijuana know nothing but lies … I’ve programmed [computers] all my life and people say [marijuana] makes you forgetful. Well, you go from here to the fridge and have five ideas on the way. You get interrupted by ideas. In computing, if you have 10 ideas and one of them is good, you’re ahead of the game. It definitely gets your mind popping.”
Asked if he smokes it though, Pederson replies: “I’m too poor to smoke it on a regular basis. I smoked it more when I was working.”
Peterson said his job as a computer programmer went overseas in the late 1980s and now he lives on a small pension. He still dabbles in programming, shoots lots of video and posts to a blog.
His nickname “Stone Dan,” he says doesn’t come from his use of marijuana, but rather from his use of medicine stones, which he says have a powerful tradition in Aboriginal culture.
Once, he said, he used medicine stones to put a curse on organizers at Expo ’86 because they wouldn’t let him show his stones there. He claims it rained for 17 days straight because of his stones and his curse.
“I still have them,” said Pederson. “If anything comes, I take the stones out and wish it away.”
Running as an independent candidate against better funded, better organized candidates representing mainstream political parties, Pederson may just need to put his stones to use again.