| Apr 17, 2019

The Green Party is the first national party to name a candidate to attempt to unseat 5-time incumbent Conservative Lanark Frontenac Kingston MP, Scott Reid, in the coming federal election.

The candidate is Stephen Kotze, who operates In Balance, an accounting company specialising in small business and not-for profit corporations out of his home in the tiny hamlet of Elphin. He has a long history in social and environmental activism.

Kotze was one of three Lanark County residents vying for the nomination, and won the nomination in the first round of counting the ranked ballots, at a meeting last Thursday (April 11), at McMartin House in Perth.

The other nominees were Doug Barr, a Tay Valley Township musician and advocate of sustainable living, and Kelvin Hodges, a resident of Perth who owns and runs a solar energy and storage business.

In a telephone interview this week, Kotze said that the other two candidates gave very strong presentations at the meeting.

“They were both very good candidates. I did not feel that confident coming into the vote.”

Kotze was born in South Africa, where his parents were prominent anti-apartheid activists. He moved to Europe when he was a young man and eventually made his way to The Farm, an intentional community in Tennessee.

With his wife Rosemary, he moved to the Elphin-McDonald’s Corners area in the early 1980’s to work at Plenty Canada. The Kotzes worked on a project in Lesotho, a country surrounded by South Africa, in the mid 1980’s.

In 1994, Stephen became a Canadian citizen. He worked at the Canadian Environmental Network in the mid 1990’s, eventually serving as the Executive Director. He established In Balance in 1998. The Kotzes have 7 children and two grandchildren.

In a telephone interview this week, he said that the Green Party is ready to take a larger role in Canadian politics.

“[Party leader] Elizabeth May has done an incredible job, but she can’t do it all on her own. We need more Green Party members in parliament to help influence policy.”

As to his motivation to seek the party nomination this time around, he pointed to the urgency surrounding climate change.

“We are in a crisis, people realise that and they also realise that our leaders are not responding appropriately,” he said. “The Liberals are floundering. Trudeau has signed the Paris accord, saying thathe takes climate change seriously, but not really, in my opinion, doing very much.”

As a long-time Lanark County resident, Kotze is certainly aware of how entrenched the Conservative Party is in the riding, but sees an opening this time around.

“There are a lot of people who don’t support the Conservatives in this riding, and I want to give them a voice. Scott Reid does a good job representing his constituency but not representing all of the people in this riding. It’s time to get people into power who will represent the broader public.”

He also argues that the greening of the Canadian economy does not mean the end to economic prosperity.

“As Greens, we don’t want our economy to lose jobs just because we are getting rid of fossil fuels. We are interested in maintaining a strong economy. There are things we can do that are concrete and are based in reality. Other countries have led the way in this area, and we need to make changes in order to catch up.”

(Editor’s note – Stephen Kotze provides accounting services for the Frontenac News)

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