Saskatchewan Green Party AGM 2022 Saturday June 4th Confederation Inn, Saskatoon
We have been waiting for a long time to have an in-person AGM. Please mark this date on your calendar and plan to attend. We will still be offering the blended meeting format. However you plan to attend we look forward to seeing you. There will be a nominal fee of $20.00 to attend in person. This fee is used to get a preliminary head count for the number of people attending because we are having lunch provided.
As per our Constitution and Bylaws we are now calling for nominations for candidates to be on the provincial executive. Every position on the executive will need to be elected; except for Party President and Party Leader. If you want to become more involved or you know someone that you would like to nominate; please read the descriptions of the various roles and see where you fit in. The nomination papers can be found on pdf here.
We are also calling for policy changes. Our policy book is a constantly evolving document. Sometimes policies need to be removed because they are no longer relevant. Sometimes new policies are needed. Whatever changes that you feel need to happen this is the time to submit them. The Constitution and Bylaws can be found here and the policy book here.
Because the Party President position is not up for election at this AGM all nominations and policy proposals must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cut off deadline for submissions is midnight April 15th, 2022.
To register to attend the AGM, or to renew your membership before the AGM, e-transfers can be sent to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from everyone. Every member of the party has an equal say so do not hesitate to get involved.
Saskatchewan: The birthplace of Canada’s socialized health-care system, rich in resources yet still a province of inequity! Why is this the case? Growing up here taught me that we take care of one another in our community. We look out for the needy and the vulnerable, and we expect our taxes to do the same. Why are so many of us still suffering so piteously? Is there a disconnect between the true nature of our humanity and the government’s management of our collective resources?
We can’t simply rely on the generosity of our friends and neighbours’ efforts through online mutual aid groups, community fridges and food banks. We must not normalize warehousing the homeless and gaslighting the poor as if poverty was a lifestyle choice. We must demand our elected government do more to ensure we all have our essential needs met.
Of course these are very tough times, with the pandemic still raging alongside a rapidly progressing climate crisis, but we mustn’t sacrifice the most vulnerable to conform to the dominant economic worldview of capitalism.
I’m not speaking academically but from a lifetime rooted in helping the poor, mentally ill and homeless, and from my own experiences as a single mother who also grew up in poverty. Additionally, through my work as leader of the SGP, as administrator of the group “I Will Help Regina” with 12,000 members, and as community organizer and lifelong volunteer, I’m no stranger to struggle.
Here are a couple of stories shared with me over this past weekend:
One woman detailed her budget to demonstrate an obviously inadequate amount of income to make ends meet. This is the reality for one real-life Saskatchewanian, disabled and desperately looking for work, trying to survive on Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) benefits of $1134 per month. She deserves better than this:
* Cut from $200 with supplements from Food Bank
Now let’s look at another person’s experience – an Indigenous Woman on SAID. After she lost her ability to get a doctor’s note because her neurologist died, the province took her to court. She lost, and now she owes the government $48,000. She tried fighting repeatedly from 2017 to 2020. Her advocate then died and she lost all the paperwork.
She’s still epileptic and still has had no help from social services since 2018. She moved from Saskatoon to Prince Albert pre-covid for a minimum wage job, working from home with two kids. But now she’s unemployed and has been since July of last year. Her husband is also disabled, and they have never approved him for SAID and have never even tried to help with his special diet that he’s been on for 13 years. They are barely able to survive now.
These are real life stories of the SAID program. Please reach out to your MLA today and demand that SAID rates be increased to get much needed help to people immediately. Anti-poverty advocates have been asking for an increase in rates for a very long time already — What are we waiting for?
If we want to help both people, we need long term solutions – a Guaranteed Liveable Income Program, with a social safety system that ensures no one falls through the cracks to end up in the situation that the woman in my second example endures — disabled and owing $48,000 to the Ministry of Social Services!
It’s our Ministry and it’s time we used it to properly care for the people in this province.
Some called it a success, many believed it was a total failure. Either way the COP26 is over now, and we are ready to talk about it.
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference was the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland. Between the 31st of October and the 12th of November; leaders, representatives, and politicians from nearly 200 countries participated in the summit and made commitments.
Since the summit ended, almost every climate activist, expert and scientist has talked about it. Did we achieve enough? Or was it just a show, to show that the world leaders care?
There’s no denying that some progress has been made. A new climate agreement was signed off and for the first-time countries agreed to act on fossil fuels.
In this report, two of our very own Green Party leaders, Alex Tyrrell and Naomi Hunter commented on the pledges made. Alex is the leader of the Green Party of Quebec and Naomi holds the same title in Saskatchewan. I asked them if they think the pledges made during the summit were enough, or more needs to be done?
Naomi on Deforestation
Canada signed a declaration “to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030” which extends to 3.6 billion hectares of forest worldwide. This sounds good, but there’s reason for skepticism initially given Brazil’s and Canada’s current deforestation agendas. Then, when one learns that Indonesia has already said they likely won’t reach the “halt and reverse” goal, hope fades on this pledge.
The declaration is unlikely to address the main kind of deforestation and degradation happening in Canada: the clear cutting of primary or old-growth forests and replanting with single-species monoculture plantations, often sprayed with toxic herbicides.
I recently visited the Fairy Creek Blockade on Vancouver Island where activists have been desperately trying to keep the chainsaws out of the last remaining intact Old Growth Watershed in BC. These massive, ancient trees are some 800 years old, and the ecosystem is rare. The agreement Canada signed does not halt the destruction of that temperate rainforest. Sites with the potential to grow very large trees cover less than three percent of the province of B.C. These ecosystems are effectively the “white rhino” of old growth forests. They are almost extinguished and will not recover from logging.
Here in Saskatchewan, and across the rest of Canada, we also have continued and catastrophic clear cutting throughout the boreal forest. Despite the shortcomings of this declaration, our planet’s forest defenders can take heart and be strengthened by such high-level commitments.
Naomi on Methane Gas Pollution
In Canada, much of our methane emissions are from the oil, gas, and agriculture sectors.
Thirteen percent of Canada’s GHG emissions is attributed to methane, but many experts say that amount is likely much higher. The oil and gas industry are a huge contributor to methane emissions. They intentionally vent it off during petroleum refinement, and orphaned wells can leak methane. Leak detection is a major problem in the industry and current regulations have sites checked three times per year to catch these. This is obviously inadequate and needs to be upped. Canada also has hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells that need to be plugged. This can be expensive but it’s very important that this be done immediately.
I am a farmer myself and I have a lot of friends with different kinds of farms. Emissions can be reduced by covering manure pools with straw, or by altering the acidity of the manure to deactivate the micro-organisms that produce methane. There are also diet changes that can be made to cattle feed to reduce methane emissions. As with any helpful environmental practice, the government can incentivize methods like this that are known to help. If the agriculture industry is going to improve on this, emissions must be lowered, or the numbers of cattle decreased.
Naomi on Coal Financing
One of the letdowns of COP26 was the last-minute amendment from the floor to change wording in the final agreement from phase-out to phase-down of coal.
The IPCC has informed the world that 45 percent reduction of CO2 from 1990 levels is necessary by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. Neither of those goals is possible with continued extraction and combustion of coal.
Naomi on US-China Deal
It is no doubt a hopeful sign that China and the US released a joint declaration. There are many encouraging aspects of their recent agreement including their intent to cooperate on: distributed generation policies that encourage integration of solar, storage, and other clean power solutions closer to electricity users; and energy efficiency policies and standards to reduce electricity waste. The United States leaves us with a lofty goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. That sounds hopeful until one considers that both countries’ plans include heavy reliance on nuclear energy as well as the unproven technologies of carbon capture.
Further, these two nations have the largest militaries in the world, with the US alone responsible for more emissions from its various war machines than the total emissions of more than 140 countries combined.
Naomi on The Severity of the Crisis
COP26 was an annual international gathering to reach an imperfect consensus, and that was achieved. It is also correct to label COP26 both a failure and a success. Time will tell. The important thing is to not give up the work either in despair or celebration. This work will never end for us. Anthropocentric climate change is here.
We must continue to hold governments and industry accountable for their promises. We can’t give up on the majority of the world’s peoples who are the least responsible yet suffer the most.
We must continue to organize in the grassroots to gain more electoral success and thus a stronger presence in halls of power. COP26 saw a record number of elected Green representatives including Canada’s Elizabeth May and freshman MP Mike Morrice. I believe the growing Green influence at UNFCCC is a major factor in keeping us in the ‘hopeful’ column. The other major societal influencers being the climate activists. Both streams of workers usually bubble up from the grassroots, and they need our encouragement.
Scott Moe’s Covid-19 management has been faulty from day one, putting the economic needs of big business ahead of the public and worker safety. However, it’s still not too late to do the right thing.
“We should immediately implement a provincial Guaranteed Livable Income”, states Naomi Hunter, leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, “our Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) is proving disastrous, the federal CRB ends this week, and it’s getting cold outside”.
Homelessness is rising in our province as recent ‘encampments’ in our major cities can attest. But they are the tip of a much larger poverty iceberg. Premier Moe should have put a plan in place so people could safely stay home – not become homeless.
“It’s very clear that Scott Moe doesn’t care about the people”, says Hunter, “the most recent example of ignoring top health advice to control the 4th wave should be all the evidence we need that he is in fact causing harm – people are dying”.
It was during the pandemic, the largest immediate threat to global public health in generations, that Moe went ahead with the new Saskatchewan Income Support scheme, leaving many poorer than before. This comes at a time when other vital services have been clawed back or severely reduced.
The Food Bank is seeing much higher usage, impacting how much they can give each person. Hunger is an ever-increasing problem as ‘community-run fridges’ try desperately to fill in the gaps.
Transportation is one of the biggest problems for those in poverty and the pandemic has affected that as well. We need more public bus service in our cities, not less. We need to bring back the STC and help alleviate isolation while improving safety and access to vital services.
Our need for counselling and other mental health supports has increased at a time when those services were already strained and under-funded. Further, many health and social services must now be accessed by Zoom or phone. This adds yet more barriers to the poor and/or disabled, and less quality care overall.
Our opioid overdose rates in Saskatchewan are a pandemic of their own, while Scott Moe refuses to provide the support needed for treatment centres and safe injection sites.
We already had a housing problem before the pandemic, yet Moe’s SaskParty made the problem worse by amending the law to shorten eviction notices to 15 days. Time and again, when more help was needed at this difficult time, additional problems were thrown at the poor instead. Now it’s reached a tipping point and we are in an emergency situation.
“If people freezing to death in our parks doesn’t concern you, or a neighbour dying from accidental fentanyl overdose doesn’t either, maybe our crumbling health care system and overloaded hospitals should!” exclaims Hunter. “Now more than ever we need a leader that cares, one who listens to the experts, and doesn’t let Grandma be flown to Ontario to die alone.”
As a country we decided that $2000 per month was a minimal amount we needed to survive with the CERB/CRB. Now that ‘benefit’ is gone but the need is still there. It’s time for Saskatchewan to take the lead and immediately institute a Guaranteed Livable Income for all in this province.
Hunter discussed three main issue areas with Global Green News which she believes are essential to the current and future politics of Saskatchewan. The three issue areas were identified as; standing with Indigenous Peoples, green energy and water security. She stressed that these are not the only issues that must be focused on but rather that these are some of the main focus points of her party.
Indigenous reconciliation was identified as a top priority by Hunter:
First and foremost, we must stand with Indigenous allies. It is a top personnel election issue.
Adopting all of the recommendations of the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ is a must for Hunter. As Greens, she expressed that upholding Indigenous affairs has to be kept as a constant important issue.
Hunter also applauded the nomination of Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General Mary Simon. She explained that it is vital to have more Indigenous women participate in high profile political roles to represent the voice of many. Hunter acknowledges that some Indigenous Peoples do not want to participate in the provincial or federal political system due to lack of trust and she respects these decisions.
Green energy as discussed by Hunter involves using solar energy extensively. This is a strategy that Hunter has discussed with Global Green News in the past and is confident in this approach. She also stands firmly against the development of nuclear energy in the form of small modular reactors:
Nuclear is not the solution, solar energy is the answer.
Additionally she argued that nuclear development would largely take place on Indigenous land, something that she says should be avoided at all costs.
A last issue area that was discussed by Hunter was water security. According to Hunter, the prairies are at a serious risk of drought. This could be devastating for the region’s numerous farmers. When it comes to water, Hunter wants to remind everyone that many Northern communities are under water boiling advisories constantly and that this has to change.
Hunter is both a provincial and federal Green candidate. The Saskatchewan Green Party is encouraging their candidates to run in all elections as a goal of having a more integrated agenda. Hunter says that her party is trying to have election timelines rehashed in the province. Her party wants municipal elections moved further away from provincial elections to have candidates in every possible election. They are currently only two weeks apart.
More candidates across jurisdictions, allows for more issues to be addressed according to Hunter. She believes in grassroots organizations and their capabilities.
Hunter strongly feels that the first past the post system is a failed system and condemns Justin Trudeau for not changing it. Electoral reform is important to herself and to her party:
I would love to have a fair system for people.
Long term plan
After being reminded by Global Green News that no Green seats were won in the 2020 Saskatchewan legislature, Hunter quickly replied by stating that the Greens won 4,000 more votes in 2020 and became the third party in some ridings. According to Hunter, the party grew five times in size since she has assumed leadership.
Simply put, she sees herself as the premier of Saskatchewan in 2028. As long as the party will have her, Hunter says that she will lead them.
Global Green News asked Hunter how she evaluates the fact that the last eight legislatures in the province were formed by the NDP or the Saskatchewan party. Hunter expressed that her party is getting more organized. Her team is made up of activist grass roots Canadians and they believe in their goals.
Naomi Hunter wanted to remind readers that Elizabeth May succeeded as a federal Green without falling into brokerage politics. Hunter said that the climate crisis can’t wait and she is ready to tackle it.
A Pride Parade in Foam Lake? Yes! When 9-year-old Asha was denied attending the Regina Pride Parade her can-do attitude said, “Let’s have one here then.”
Asha and her mother told Naomi Hunter, Leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party (SGP), they thought maybe four people would attend. Attendance far exceeded four. The Foam Lake mayor, other students, community members, two RCMP officers in full uniform, representatives from Regina Pride and Yorkton Pride, and the SGP Leader all paraded their pride in diversity.
Hunter said, “I am so happy to have represented the Saskatchewan Green Party today in the town of Foam Lake’s first ever Pride Parade today. I look forward to coming back for next years Foam Lake Pride parade.” She added, “Before this Asha also has held solo Friday for Future marches here. She also tried to organize a litter pickup event. She is a true future leader.”
Green Party leaders are demanding action and answers on tens of thousands of old asbestos cement water pipes in Canada. The pipes were installed decades ago. Federal studies show the pipes can contain up to 20% asbestos fibres, that they deteriorate with age, and can release fibres into the water causing a “health concern.”
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates asbestos in water. It maintains long-term ingestion (swallowing) of asbestos can cause lung disease and cancer. Health Canada says there is no consistent, convincing evidence that ingesting asbestos is hazardous. It is not regulated in water in Canada. In 1992, the EPA established a Maximum Contaminant Level of seven million fibres per litre (7 MFL) for asbestos in water “To protect against cancer.”
“There is over 1,000 kilometres of this old water pipe in Saskatchewan,” said provincial Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter. “Water Security Agency Minister Fred Bradshaw is on the record saying there is no scientific issue with ingested asbestos. What utter nonsense. We know that asbestos is an extremely toxic material. We know that there is a lot of this pipe, and that it is breaking in record numbers. How can asbestos cause cancer in Americans, and not Canadians? The time has long since passed for provincial and federal governments to get serious about this issue.”
The old water pipe is not exclusive to Saskatchewan. A recent media investigation showed there is more than 1,000 kilometres of asbestos cement pipe in Quebec. The provincial government has committed to testing for asbestos in water by the end of 2022.
“Why do Quebec residents have to wait so long to learn whether there might be asbestos in their water,” asked Quebec Green Party Leader Alex Tyrrell? “All Canadians deserve clean, safe drinking water. It’s a fundamental human right. Testing for asbestos should begin immediately.”
Alberta Greens are likewise concerned. In Edmonton alone there are also more than 1000 km of asbestos cement water mains. “I can’t believe this isn’t a major news story” states Jordan Wilkie, Green Party of Alberta leader. “We need immediate testing and remediation where necessary to remove this hazard from our drinking water”.
The Green Party leaders are calling on the federal government to immediately launch a study to find out how much asbestos cement water pipe is still in use in Canada, and the condition of that pipe.
“Only when we know the extent of the problem can we deal with it,” said Hunter, pointing to a 2018 Canada-U.S. study that shows asbestos cement water main breaks have increased a whopping 43% since 2012. “The problem with asbestos cement water pipes is just going to get worse over time. It’s time for federal and provincial governments to get their heads out of the sand, and deal with this important health issue,” Hunter said.
For decades, the National Research Council Canada (NRC) has warned about the possible dangers posed by asbestos cement water pipes. A 2010 study entitled Safety and Waste Management of Asbestos Cement Pipes, points to “concerns about the inhalation of airborne asbestos from showers, humidifiers, etc.” Another 2010 NRC study says asbestos fibres from severely deteriorated pipes “could pose a hazard of malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs in consumers.”
“This is the premiere scientific and research arm of the federal government,” said Hunter. “Why isn’t the federal government listening to its own experts, instead of pretending that there is insufficient evidence that drinking asbestos is harmful?”
The federal Liberal government promised to ban asbestos and “asbestos-containing materials” in 2018. Yet when the regulations were introduced asbestos cement water pipes already in use were exempt. At the time, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna downplayed the potential impact of the exemption, telling journalists “None of these exemptions will impact on human health.”
“That is an absolutely worthless assurance,” said Hunter, questioning why the health minister wasn’t the person to address this issue. “Canada doesn’t even require testing for asbestos in water. The federal government needs to take steps to regulate asbestos in water, so Canadians can enjoy every assurance that the water they are using is safe. The Green Party is committed to doing that.”
Alex Tyrell Green Party of Quebec Leader 1-514-612-3365
Jordan Wilkie Green Party of Alberta Leader 1-780-905-8885
I am sure many of you have followed the strife in the Green Party of Canada with the same grief that I have today. Seeing Jenica Atwin, Fredericton MP, whom we were all so proud of, cross the floor to the Liberals was disheartening.
However, the Green Party is not just one person, or even one leader. It never has been. The membership, the Green grassroots – we are the party! Our six core values are what unites us. One person does not change the Green Party itself. People get upset over issues all the time and leave political parties; we as members are our core Green values.
We are: Respect for Diversity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Social Justice, Participatory Democracy and Sustainability. No set of temporary situations changes that.
As leader of the the Saskatchewan Green Party I recognize mine is a separate party from the federal GPC, but all Green parties around the world share the same six Green values.
I believe in all of you and I believe in our Green values. I believe the issues in Saskatchewan and beyond need our hard work and advocacy, and the Green movement holds the best chance at success.
Let us now grieve our loss and for those who are ready, let’s get back to work! We have a Climate Crisis to fight together.
The two presidential candidates are both experienced activists living in Saskatoon. In order of nomination date, they are David Greenfield and Barry Dickie. For their biographies and others please visit Meet Your Executive Team.