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.
The Saskatchewan Green Party has issued the following statement in support of banning the abusive practice known as “conversion therapy”.
Thank-you City of Regina for joining a growing number of representative bodies ready and willing to enact laws for the protection of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“No one should face abuse for being who they are, and certainly not under the guise of ‘therapy’,” says Naomi Hunter, leader. “I want to applaud the leadership shown in Regina where decisions have been made to help end this coercive practice.”
Regina’s Community Wellness Committee voted in favour of the conversion therapy ban as drafted by city administration after the City of Saskatoon took historic action and implemented a municipal ban on the practice in February.
This is an historic day for the LGBT2Q community in Regina. Advocates and activists have been waiting years for federal legislation to be implemented to criminalize ‘conversion therapy’, and there is currently no provincial legislation prohibiting conversion therapy.
The Saskatchewan Green Party supports banning conversion therapy and will introduce Provincial Legislation to that effect ASAP.
“There is a growing consensus that governments need to take action to address this, and we know that a majority of Canadians support banning ‘conversion therapy’ practices”, reminds Hunter, “however, there still remains a vocal minority whose comments on this debate have left me deeply disappointed. We need to listen to survivors and end this abuse on every level.”
Scott Moe signed a nuclear deal with nothing more than a few words in question period, and NO public consultation process. Even his predecessor Brad Wall held provincial public consultations when he wanted us to store nuclear waste. However, Scott Moe and the SaskParty seem to feel they don’t have to be accountable at all to the people they govern.
As leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, I am horrified at what politics has become in this province. We are racing against time to deal with the climate crisis. The climate clock in Manhattan, set up by scientists specialized in their fields, shows we have six years to get our emissions reduced.
Unfortunately, the SaskParty is still looking at their usual host of solutions, which merely pretend to deal with the environmental crisis we are in. We have immediate, cheaper and much less dangerous solutions to the climate crisis that can be put to work immediately.
Small Modular Reactors are a theoretical product that don’t yet exist. Nuclear will take at least seven to ten years to set up. The actions we need to take are today — we need to see immediate massive expansion of conservation, energy-efficient retrofits, wind and solar and geothermal; abandoned oil and gas wells need to be cleaned up and capped for renegade methane.
These things need to be started a.s.a.p., and we need targets of every two years. We must begin now to get to 100% clean energy within the decade. We need our greenhouse gas emissions reduced to at least half, preferably more, within that same time period. We cannot wait any longer.
The climate clock is ticking. Real solutions are needed in real-time.
The Saskatchewan Green Party continues to be opposed to SM(nuclear)R’s and all other nuclear reactors, plus the polluting uranium industry in this province. We insist that the government immediately backtrack and start fair consultations with the public, as previous governments have done with respect to a just and democratic process.
The Saskatchewan Green Party has poured over the numbers and declares the 2021 Budget isn’t in the best interest of people or the environment. The SaskParty provincial budget doubles down on its anti-environmental corporate subsidies WHILE not spending anything on poverty relief.
“We may as well just call this budget ‘Scott Moe punishes province to show how upset he is at losing the Supreme Court carbon tax challenge”, says Naomi Hunter, leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party. Even discounting the obvious need for Covid-era compassion, Moe misses the mark in terms of planning and investment.”
Moe cut funds in half for the Climate Change and Adaptation branch. According to Saskatchewan’s 2021 Budget Estimates, the Premier cut our climate change funding from $5,873,000 in 2020-21 to $3,350,000 in 2021-22 — a reduction of more than $2.5 million. This shows yet again that the SaskParty isn’t serious about addressing the climate crisis. From an investment perspective, this is harmful to our local economy in the long-term as the rest of the world moves more rapidly towards efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
The 2021 budget famously introduced a $150/year Electric Vehicle fee, which means Saskatchewan now has the only EV fee in Canada. Other provinces have overnight charging rates, purchase incentives, electric vehicle mandates or building codes that better accommodate EVs, but in Saskatchewan…? Scott Moe would have us believe they are doing this to help pay for the cost of highways. The irony of this is that Saskatchewan is so behind at setting up charging stations for EV’s on our highways that most EV use is in our urban centres right now.
“Maybe the SaskParty will put a $150 environmental tax on walking? That would be just as ridiculous!” stated Hunter. “I probably shouldn’t give them ideas though. I can actually see them instituting a walking tax!”
The $150/year EV tax is a cynical thumb in the eye to environmentalists and cheap play to the SaskParty’s perceived base.
“I’m a farmer, and I can tell you with confidence if the SaskParty really wanted our taxes to pay for roads, we would tax our farm trucks. We continue to benefit from the $105-million-a-year tax exemption on farm fuel, because they don’t want to upset us. What really gets us riled up though is Moe’s mismanagement and playing us all for fools.” says Hunter.
Premier Moe called this “a spending budget”; however all this means is that they simply intend to maintain financial support for their long-term corporate backers in the resource sector:
The oil sector benefits by “modernizing and expanding the High Water-Cut Program”, they are changing the “royalty status of high-water wells for producers who make new investments in water handling. The change will make the wells more viable for producers and promote greater overall production.”
More for oil! This budget provides oil producers with $3.8 million in annual royalty relief to help them “invest in new methane emissions reduction projects, and help support capture and commercialization rather than venting and flaring.”
Potash benefits by “simplifying and reducing the royalty rate on sodium sulphate production, and introduces an improved capital investment credit to encourage added value and enhance Saskatchewan’s presence in growing potash fertilizer markets.”
“What we see here is the corporations who make large donations to the SaskParty continuing to benefit from that association.” states Hunter. “Meanwhile, after 13 months of a pandemic, income assistance recipients have only received a one time additional benefit of $50, and we continue to have the lowest minimum wage in the country. If this is ‘a spending budget’, where is the spending for those who need it the most? During the 3rd wave of the pandemic, the 2021 SaskParty budget doesn’t provide one single nickel to people living in poverty. This government is heartless.”
The meanest part of Sask Budget 2021 is that it doesn’t provide anything to people living in poverty. Individuals receiving Saskatchewan Income Support Benefits receive $574 for shelter and utilities ($525 outside of Saskatoon and Regina), leaving only $285 a month to live on. People with disabilities on the SAID program have now gone six years without a benefit increase while seeing major cuts to rental coverage and special needs.
“Scott Moe, why do you hate poor people?”, asks Hunter.
In 2019, 136 000 of the 1.1 million people in Saskatchewan were poor, up from 123 000 in 2016. The poverty gap of 38 per cent means that for persons in poverty, average income was 38 per cent below the Official Poverty Line (OPL).
The highest poverty rates in Saskatchewan are among children under the age of 18 in female lone-parent families and in persons aged 18 to 64 not living in families. We also have very high poverty rates among Indigenous persons, recent immigrants, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities.
This should surprise no one because the SaskParty prioritizes corporate profit over people’s lives — spending $2B for a bypass but refusing to fund a safe injection site in the midst of an overdose crisis. Policies like this are both cruel and fiscally irresponsible. Safe injection sites save lives and money, helping keep people out of jail, our hospitals, and our morgues.
That 2 billion dollars could instead: cover all pharmaceuticals costs for every Saskatchewan citizen for 2 years; fund community housing supports to over 73,000 families for 5 years; and, fully fund the operation of the STC for the next 75 years or more.
“The biggest question all of us need to be asking right now is, what will an Austerity Budget look like? If this is a spending budget, the SaskParty idea of Austerity is terrifying.” states Hunter. “This budget was an opportunity to jumpstart the economy by investing in the clean energy sector. The climate crisis gives us a timeline that requires immediate action. We needed to see real supports for those who need it most so all of us together can solve the climate crisis. For the sake of future generations — we must do better!”
The Saskatchewan Green Party is calling for the provincial government to cancel Bill 15 and Bill 21 immediately.
The Ministry of Justice has hidden its proposals for permanent cuts to tenants’ protection from eviction. Last December it hid these inhumane cuts behind claims of improved tenant protection from sexual violence.
Naomi Hunter states, “As Leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, it is part of my job to know the facts and not simply take the Moe government at its word. They are prone to play fast and loose with the most vulnerable of our citizens.”
As an example, Bill 15 actually makes it harder for tenants to access security deposit refunds when they need them the most. This government “nickels and dimes” the people surviving on nickels and dimes. The low-minded measure increases the risk of homelessness, unsafe housing, and the physical and mental dangers of poverty that are plaguing our society.
The Ministry of Justice (Orwell, anyone?) calls the cuts to renters’ rights “A series of administrative improvements that revise and expand existing provisions to reflect current practices, create more efficiency, and allow more equity between the parties.” Actually, the “efficiencies”, and “equity” protections systematically taken from tenant rights and tenant security deposits exclusively benefit the landlords who requested them last summer.
These legislated changes further undermine a fair, good faith system for renter populations who are experiencing disabilities or are otherwise vulnerable or marginalized. These are not merely the “administrative changes” of SaskPartyspeak; they are contrary to what should be a human right to safe, affordable housing.
Bill 15 (Residential Tenancies Act) is to put into effect:
NO actual improvement of existing legal protection for tenants experiencing sexual violence (the advertised purpose of the bill)
Increased risk of eviction and homelessness, by cutting in half the time allowed for tenants to respond to eviction notices due to late rent, from 15 days to seven
Higher costs and several other barriers to tenants’ getting their own security deposit back. This return is of course essential for low-income renters to move to future housing (especially those who are unemployed or on programs like SIS)
The proposed changes in Bill 21 (Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods — SCAN) expand SCAN’s already dangerous powers over tenancies:
Eviction can be based on hearsay, with little time or process involved for the tenants to defend themselves. This will even more readily convert eviction into homelessness (even when against the landlord’s own wishes!), regardless of the presence of innocent household members. These situations often impact single Indigenous mothers or grandmothers, disproportionately more than other populations.
Landlords are granted increased powers to immediately and forcibly remove the household members, even with no warning, thus endangering and destabilizing diverse households. Supposedly in Canada everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The SCAN program’s civil forfeiture powers will also confiscate and dispose of personal belongings, property, vehicles, and work and school gear.
The Moe government’s hard-hearted disregard for people experiencing unstable housing is cruel at any time. But during the 3rd wave of the pandemic? This is sadistic. Rather, let the Justice Minister and his colleagues know that safe, affordable housing is a human right and the province’s duty to ensure.
These proposed system cuts will end up costing the Saskatchewan taxpayers more money. They will result in offloading more emergency care for the harmed, displaced and traumatized tenant household members of all ages and needs. Our charitable community emergency organizations are already stretched to the breaking point, as are our emergency rooms. They can’t take the added stress caused by these regressive changes to the system.
We in the Saskatchewan Green Party know that undermining basic human rights to housing, and consequently increasing poverty and homelessness, as well as subjecting renters to oversight by hearsay, is all deeply wrong. We stand in opposition. Will you join us?
Share your voice in a letter or phone call to the Minister of Justice Gord Wyant, to the Premier, and to your MLA.
The Supreme Court ruling against Scott Moe and other conservative premiers’ challenge to a federal carbon tax is great news for Saskatchewan, Canada and the world.
“Environmentalists in our province rejoiced at this decision. After all, pricing carbon is a great tool to wield in our fight against climate change,” states Naomi Hunter, leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party. “Heck, even the American Petroleum Institute supports it! But it’s only one small portion of what we need to do to reach 100% clean energy within the next 7 to 10 years.”
The SGP proposes a non-partisan, all party approach to move forward and start taking real action on climate TODAY!
Our climate action plan knocks out fossil fuel emissions, strengthens our Saskatchewan communities while attracting innovation and investment. “We’ve run out of time for half measures and empty promises”, says Hunter.
SGP calls for an immediate end to unfair tax subsidies for the oil and gas sector and prompt localized investment into conservation, efficiency and renewable energy production.
We call for the establishment of an Indigenous advisory panel for guidance, ensuring that Traditional Knowledge and treaty rights are respected.
Establish a Guaranteed Livable Income to assist in the transition of workers and their families from dependence on oil and gas jobs.
Establish a moratorium on clearcut logging, peat bog mining, and unregulated drainage of our wetlands on the Prairies.
Offer real incentives for citizens to invest, and bring back the net metering program for residential solar projects.
Hunter reminds us: “We can lead Canada once again, like we did on Socialized Medicine back in the glory days of Tommy Douglas. Our wind and solar resources are world class and Saskatchewanians are renowned for their ingenuity and work ethic”. The biggest problem is the policy of Scott Moe’s SaskParty government, in virtual climate change denial, excused by a half-hearted Ryan Meili led opposition. They deny our province the chance to finally embark on a serious climate plan. The NDP’s plan to have 100% emissions free electricity by 2050 grossly misses the mark. That empty promise prolongs our suffering with offers of false hope. In reality, it’s nothing more than a green light to the vastly toxic nuclear industry, to which their party is also beholden.
Further, mollycoddling the oil and gas sector with NDP vagaries such as “oil and gas will remain a strong pillar of our economy” is of no more help to Saskatchewanians than the overtly hostile position of Scott Moe’s government on climate change. After all, given his recent analogy, he and his party think this is all a game. “I’ve played enough hockey to know…”
“People from across the political spectrum have been reaching out to me non-stop since the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a federal carbon tax. I am inviting them to back the Greens and to support my voice as the only one among the province’s party leaders to speak the scientific truth about the climate crisis,” Hunter goes on to say, “The Dippers in particular feel let down by their party on this central issue. I’ll tell you what I’ve been telling them — there isn’t time to organize for change from within a party so deeply misaligned. Now is the time to back the only voice in this province that aligns with the science, the economics, the law, and the political will of the electorate.”
Hunter continues: “This is beyond partisanship. It comes down to whatever works in a crisis. We’ve got to get moving. This need has caught on in Prince Edward Island, where the Greens’ chances were considered laughably out of reach. In the course of one election cycle, the PEI Greens vaulted to Official Opposition. I’ve been an environmental campaigner for more than three decades in Saskatchewan and if the NDP showed any promise at all in tackling this issue I would have run as a candidate with them.”
“Don’t get me wrong”, says Hunter, “I cherish the social activist tradition in Saskatchewan and the CCF-NDP has always been at the forefront of this tradition. Many of my friends are NDP members or supporters, and I have worked with them on many worthwhile projects. But NDP politics are too conflicted when it comes down to facing the greatest crisis of our age. The time for playing games is over. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated recently, “In this ‘make-or-break’ year, … now is the time to be bold and ambitious”.
The days of denial, delay and dither are done. Let’s get to work!
The Saskatchewan Green Party thanks former Premier Lorne Calvert for helping reposition the left on this issue. Naomi Hunter, SGP leader, states: “It is very refreshing to see a former NDP Premier of Saskatchewan endorse GLI.” During the 2020 provincial election campaign, Guaranteed Livable Income was a prominent part of the Green platform. By contrast, the NDP candidates and their current leader, Ryan Meili, uniformly repeated that it was not feasible at this time, period.
In Premier Calvert’s March 3 Leader-Post op-ed, he writes: “For all our well-meaning intentions, at some point we have to admit our programs are not working to end or even significantly reduce poverty.” He goes on to give the idea of a GLI pilot program a push.
“I hope this article convinces the membership of the NDP to pressure their party to adopt GLI now,” says Hunter. “We can move to a less judgmental and more economical system of social supports in this province. The current system is outdated and administration-heavy. Now is the time for all parties, at all levels, to come together and make this happen.”
The Saskatchewan Green Party has promoted a Guaranteed Livable Income as a prominent part of its policy for years. The future has arrived. It’s time. A green recovery from Covid-19 and our transition from fossil fuels to renewables must include Guaranteed Livable Income.