|Current Position||Leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party|
|Party||Saskatchewan Green Party|
With the provincial election fast approaching, Saskatchewan Green Party Leader, Naomi Hunter, looks to push for a new, greener, and more socially conscientious administration in the province, if elected Premier. An interview was conducted, in which Hunter described how her past lived experiences reflect her current political platform.
Naomi Hunter takes pride in the fact that she is not your typical politician. As a mother, small business owner, health care instructor, and family farmer, she is truly a Saskatchewanian through and through. Having grown up in northern Saskatchewan, Hunter claims to understand the importance that Saskatchewanians place on their rural roots, particularly when it comes to protecting their environment. A long-time social activist, Hunter’s political involvement included organizing protests, petitions, and even aiding in the formation of the original Saskatchewan Green Party in the 1980s. This would be her first test at provincial elections as the newly elected leader of the Saskatchewan Greens.
Water Risk in Rural Communities
Hunter’s first priority, if elected Premier, would be to improve the well-being and standard of living in Saskatchewanian northern, rural and Indigenous communities, specifically when it comes to water security.
If elected, Hunter affirms that she would take care to ensure that the living standards of these communities will be on par with the rest of the province. She is appalled by the fact that around 30% of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous communities have a boil water advisory at any point in time. Hunter states, “it’s incomprehensible to me that the (Saskatchewan Party) that’s been in power for 13 years, and the NDP that’s been in power 10 years before, haven’t fixed the fact that we don’t have clean, drinkable water in every community in this province.”
Having grown up in northern Saskatchewan, Hunter recalls living with frequent boil water advisories. “There were scientists studying us when I was 5-6 years old, and showing that Turtleford, Saskatchewan had more instances of multiple sclerosis than anywhere else in Canada”. Years later, the water quality in these northern Saskatchewan regions has scarcely improved. Hunter stated that the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP have been “disobeying the sustainability goals of the United Nations by not ensuring that all the people of this province have clean, drinkable water”. Hunter plans to put forward legislation within her first 100 days in government to ensure that there is clean, drinkable water in every community is Saskatchewan.
It is not only the standard of living in these rural and Indigenous communities which Hunter looks to improve, but also relations between Indigenous communities and the government of Saskatchewan, as well as all issues of racial inequality throughout the province.
Hunter stated that she was troubled by the xenophobia displayed on social media amongst Saskatchewanians as Justin Trudeau took steps to accept Syrian refugees into Canada in 2015. She created the Facebook page titled “I Will Help Regina”, which aimed to welcome Syrian refugees into Saskatchewanian communities, and also led a group of volunteers in welcoming these refugees to the province.
She also believes that under the current Saskatchewan Party administration, Indigenous Saskatchewanians feel neglected, and for good reason. In July 2020, 24-year-old Métis man, Tristen Durocher, walked 635 km from Air Ronge to Regina in order to raise awareness for suicide in Indigenous communities. This came after a bill that would have recognized suicide as an issue of public health was turned down by the Saskatchewan government. Once in Regina, Durocher set a Teepee outside of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building and began a hunger strike. Hunter says that Premier Scott Moe would not so much as even talk to Durocher. Hunter states that good leaders need to be able to walk out the door and have the conversation, and that there needs to be an “Open space for people of colour to be involved in the decision-making process.”
Another one of Hunter’s top priorities would be tackling the issue of climate change in Saskatchewan and promote the use of sustainable energy.
Naomi Hunter states that immediate climate action would be taken under her leadership, and that if elected, Saskatchewan would have a 60% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within 4 years, which would comply with the goal set by the Paris Accord. Hunter claims that other Saskatchewan parties’ have “vague concepts as to what they’re going to do, or no set targets at all”, when it comes to greenhouse gas reductions. She goes on to state that in 10 years, under her administration, the province would run on 100% clean energy. According to Hunter, the timeline of this project is set by the climate crisis itself, as the Manhattan Climate Clock shows that “we have 7 years to hold this planet to 1.5 degrees”. Hunter states firmly that this effort requires all hands on deck, and everybody cooperating for the common good.
“I intend to put a solar panel on every roof in Saskatchewan“– Naomi Hunter, Leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party
Though the subject of lost jobs is often brought up when talking about transitioning to cleaner energy, Hunter has stated that a plan is in place to prevent such high job loss. Being that Saskatchewan relies heavily on the gas and oil sector, Hunter plans to fund a transition for oil and gas workers to become trained and have jobs in the geothermal, wind and solar energy sectors. Hunter stated that Saskatchewan had “the best solar metering program in the country, up until under a year ago, when the (Saskatchewan Party) cut the program with almost no notice”. Hunter’s plan would be to include retrofitting and installation of solar energy equipment in the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP).
Post- COVID-19 Economy
With COVID-19 creating a significant downturn on the worldwide economy, Hunter maintains that improving the economy is synonymous with solving the climate crisis.
Hunter believes that there is bountiful economic opportunity to be had with solving the climate crisis through solar, wind and geothermal energy. As leader of the Saskatchewan Greens, Hunter has also pointed the objectives of the party towards investing in small businesses, infrastructure, agriculture, conservation measures, and the information and technology sector, in order to grow greener economies in both urban and rural sectors.
The Saskatchewan general election date is set for Monday, October 26.