At 73, Ted Musson isn’t content to sit back and complain about the news. He’s much happier on the road, delivering his message of dissatisfaction directly to people who stop to give him a lift or chat by the roadside.
When last seen in Creston in August 2013, Musson, who calls Victoria home, was on his way to Ottawa to protest about then-prime minister Stephen Harper and federal election fraud. On May 20, he arrived, this time by way of the Crowsnest Pass, heading for Victoria to let citizens (“Conservatives always refer to us as taxpayers,” he said. “We’re citizens.”) know what he things about Premier Christy Clark and her government.
Musson has a unique way of travelling. He has a small motorhome that he drives about 10 kilometres past his destination. He then hitchhikes back, visits people and prepares for the next leg of his journey by walking back to his motorhome. While on foot he carries a large sign in protest. A limp is a sign of arthritis, brought on in part by damage more than 30 years ago.
A longtime musician, Musson has a particular interest in education. This trip, he said on Friday, is dedicated to his 70-year-old sister, a retired Ontario teacher, a North Vancouver teacher he met on his journey to Ontario and his best friend, a school music teacher in New Westminster.
“I’m a musician — the beauty of music is that you never give it up. And nothing in society is more important than teaching — getting kids on track for life. So what happens every time there are budget cuts to education? The first thing to go is music. And of course there are studies that show that the study of music, even at pre-puberty, is critical to a child’s development. Cutting back on music programs is ridiculous.”
Happy for a comfortable seat and an attentive audience, Musson goes on at length about just why he finds Clark’s government so offensive — the triple deleting of emails scandal, the hiring of “so many discredited ‘Harpocrats’ ”, what he describes as “marginally illegal” payments to the premier by the Liberal Party of BC to supplement her income, and much more.
“(Former premier) Gordon Campbell recognized himself in her — she is a kindred spirit.”
The avowed leftist said he is walking across the province with the hope that next year’s election will see bring in an NDP government.
“Going to Ottawa wasn’t about getting someone in, it was to get someone — Harper — out. This trip is more about getting someone — John Horgan and the NDP — in,” he said.
He insists his dislike for Clark is based on her actions, both as a cabinet minister (especially her time as minister of education) and premier.
“I don’t want to come off as a misogynist.”
Musson suffers from significant hearing loss, and as he continues with his list of concerns, his voice rises in proportion to his sense of offense.
Clark’s announcement of $150,000 for a school on Haida Gwaii has fueled his fire, as has the dumping of “100,000 tons of contaminated soil near Shawinigan Lake every year”, BC’s shameful record of children in care and the construction of the Site C Dam.
“It’s a great big boondoggle. I honestly believe there is no need for it.”
He’s also happy to jump on to the topic of income disparity, declaring that most of the holdings of the wealthy in excess of $1 billion should be clawed back in the form of taxation.
“One billion dollars. That’s not purchasing power, it’s political power, used to buy politicians and influence legislation.”
After he finished his 2.5-year odyssey across Canada, Musson returned to his normal life, “trying to avoid the news and just play more music.”
But he’s clearly happy to be back on the road.
“I do this on my old age pension.”
This trip started, ironically, he says, on April 1 at the Alberta-B.C. border.
“I wanted to get to Vancouver by September — which I now really doubt. It might be October or even late into November.”
He will take some of the winter off in Victoria and carry on his crusade northward on Vancouver Island, then finish off in Victoria “a few weeks before the election.”
In Musson’s case, when the going gets tough, the tough get walking.