By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
October 1, 2008
On Saturday mornings in summer, you can find Mary Etta Goodacre at the Farmer's Market in Smithers. She offers for sale home-baked pies.
“Apples, raspberries, saskatoons,” she said.
Her scones have won prizes, but you have to read the local newspaper to know. She'd never say.
Her table at the corner of Main Street and Highway 16 promises fine baked goods. Her modest campaign for Parliament, launched on a shoestring last week, is based on some ideas that are half-baked.
Ms. Goodacre, 64, has had a busy life as a teacher and homemaker. She has dug dirt in the community garden. She has worked with women's and anti-poverty groups. She cycles, even in winter. She recycles in all seasons. She does not own a television. She does have high-speed Internet.
Until now, she has never run for office.
“I am not a very brave person,” she insists, “but I feel emboldened by the need to crack their insanity.”
Earlier this month, she came across the website of the Canadian Action Party. “We'd rather be Canadian,” is the party slogan.
She signed up for a $10 membership. She also clicked on a link inviting candidates to come forward. The deadline for registration was just 48 hours away. She began gathering the 100 signatures from registered voters she thought she needed to run.
As it turns out, Schedule 3 of the Canada Elections Act requires candidates in large or remote ridings get only 50 nominating signatures. Large and remote are fine descriptions for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, which, at 323,720 square kilometres, is larger than Britain.
The riding borders Yukon and the Alaska Panhandle, includes the isolated Queen Charlotte Islands, stretches as far south as Bella Bella and as far inland as Fort St. James.
On Monday, Ms. Goodacre made her debut at an all-candidates meeting in Burns Lake, which she said was attended by about 80 people. She had never spoken into a microphone before.
“Excellent questions,” she said. “Very polite crowd. Very listening.”
She said five spectators approached her after the meeting. They concurred with her positions, she said, even if they were unlikely to vote for her.
She believes the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were a hoax. She thinks a criminal cabal in control of the U.S. government is responsible. She thinks those who accept the official story are “sheeple.” She dismisses the versions of events as described by the 9/11 commission, by the corporate media, and by government agencies.
She believes in the conspiracy theories as posited by Barrie Zwicker of Toronto and others – that the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, Madrid and London were all false-flag, inside jobs plotted by war-mongering neoconservatives keen on warring on Islam for profit.
The Canadian Action Party, which is based in Vancouver and led by Connie Fogal, is a refuge for those who think 9/11 was a hoax. Five of the party's 20 candidates in this election are running in British Columbia.
Ms. Goodacre was born in Kansas and raised in Alaska, where her carpenter father helped build radar stations on the Distant Early Warning Line. She came to Canada in 1967 because her husband wished to avoid military service in Vietnam. Their union ended in divorce, but she stayed in her adopted land.
She went by another surname until recently. She had been teaching elementary school many years ago under her married name of Hatler, but got tired of children calling her Mrs. Hitler.
She found inspiration in the natural wonders of the broad Alaskan valley that had been her childhood home. “I grabbed a name out of the clear blue sky,” she said. “I called myself Mrs. Cloud. That seemed to soothe the children.”
Fifteen years ago, she married a grocer named Goodacre with an economics degree who went on to represent the area as an MLA. He is now completing his fourth term on Smithers town council and is preparing a run for mayor.
“Bill Goodacre is a staunch NDPer and he wants to differentiate himself from his renegade wife,” she said jokingly.
The Goodacre name has been associated with the Bulkley Valley for a century. His grandfather started a grocery business in 1937, where Bill would later work. He was defeated in the 2001 provincial election and returned to public life as a town councillor. He has campaigned to get the local hockey rink – a converted aircraft hangar of Second World War vintage – named for the mother of Jim and Joe Watson, who won the Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers back in the 1970s.
Unlike his wife, he has retained his NDP membership. He is sympathetic to her views.
“I'm quite clearly in the camp of people who don't believe the official story of how those buildings came down,” he said.
Ms. Goodacre once approached the provincial NDP Leader to present her version of events.
“I talked to Carole James and she laughed at me,” Ms. Goodacre said. “She laughed at me for a long time.”
One hundred and twenty registered voters signed her nomination papers, a mark of her personal popularity. On election night, she knows her name will be on the bottom of the results list. Hers is a lonely crusade.
Her husband did not attend the all-candidates meeting in Burns Lake. He was playing cards. Monday is bridge night.
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