Mathew Kagis is often asked a question that candidates from more established political parties don’t hear.
“Usually, [it is] if we’re serious being the Work Less Party,” an amused Kagis related in a May 6 phone interview with the Georgia Straight.
The 44-year-old was on the way from his East Vancouver home to the West End, where he’s the Work Less Party candidate, when he shared that campaign-trail experience.
“Being a smaller party, with…what the mainstream considers alternative ideas, it’s getting the message across to people that, ‘Yes, we mean what we say. No, we’re not a joke,” Kagis said with a small chuckle.
The first-time candidate is running in a field of six in the May 14 election in an electoral district (Vancouver–West End) held by NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.
“I just hope to get some questions and issues to the forefront that the large parties are afraid to talk about,” he said.
Kagis explained his party’s name thusly: “We have a finite system, yet we have an economic system that’s based on unlimited growth. That’s the model, and that model simply doesn’t work. So working less, slowing things down, not spending as much time in an industrial workplace creating stuff that you don’t need so you can rush out and buy it: that’s one of the big things.”
He said this alternative model leads to “horizontal democracy” and community involvement. “Once you’re doing a shorter work week, you have more time to get to know your neighbours, to be involved in your community, grow a garden, spend time with your children, and all of those things create healthier communities. It’s a community-based model.”
A Work Less Party pamphlet provides information about Kagis, who is described as “best known for his work as the Occupy Vancouver medic who saved the life of a young man who had overdosed”.
“However, his activism stretches back to the anti-uranium-mining movement in B.C. in the 1980s,” the paper also states, adding: “Alongside his mother and sister, he was arrested on Kennedy River Bridge defending Clayoquot Sound.”
Kagis, who is also a volunteer with the Canadian Ski Patrol, works as a waiter in the West End.
Among the bigger parties, Kagis said that the Green party of B.C. is closest, at least “on paper”, to the core principles of the Work Less Party. But the Green party is also “very libertarian in their views”, and that’s what sets it apart from the Work Less Party.
“They believe in smaller government. They believe in lower taxes. They seem to be ecologically sensitive Republicans, if I can put it that way,” Kagis said.
“I believe that one of the places we need larger government is in oversight,” Kagis explained. “There are a lot of places where you can shrink bureaucracy and shrink government, but when it comes to having environmental rules followed, residential-tenancy rules and rental rules followed, all those kinds of regulations, you need larger government.”
The Work Less Party has two candidates in the election.