Monday, November 19, 2007

A Sad Loss for Moose Jaw-North

Above: Glenn Hagel (Sketch by Larissa Shasko)

The final results are in. NDP Glenn Hagel has been defeated by Sask Party Warren Michelson in the riding of Moose Jaw-North. I live in the riding of Moose Jaw-Wakamow, and I ran in the provincial election for the Green Party of Saskatchewan in my home riding. Moose Jaw is a small city with a population of 35,000. It is divided into two provincial ridings. Moose Jaw North consists of the entire section of the city located north of Caribou Street, which runs east to west. Moose Jaw has only one noticeably wealthy part of town. It is an area named Sunningdale, and it is located as far north in the city as possible. Of course there is a Wal-Mart and a Tim Horton's near to Sunningdale, and the SUV's are accompanied by at least a few Hummers. Typical...

I am a strong supporter of maximum wages. I don't like seeing those with excess money flaunt it over others as the government seeks to meet their every wish. That is largely why Warren Michelson defeated Glenn Hagel; the Sask Party promised the well-off citizens of Sunningdale even more money. Forget about that $1000 tuition break and a universal drug plan that even included unemployed adults (oh, the horrors!).

Instead, we elected a change. For Moose Jaw-North, that change somehow feels very wrong. Glenn Hagel has been MLA for that riding since 1986. He is the most personable MLA that I have ever met. I was very shocked by his defeat. He is quite respected in his community. I aspire to someday be as friendly and committed to my constituents as Mr. Hagel was. I didn't get a good impression of Warren Michelson. I felt him to be rather reserved. What a mistake for the city of Moose Jaw. What a mistake for Saskatchewan.

Corporations and large scale donations from Alberta financed the Saskatchewan Party campaign (which is actually pretty ironic, but is also deceitful and unfair to Saskatchewan residents.) The Sask Party, and our province's government, is now at the mercy of those whose donations got them elected. Hasn't anyone wondered why the proposed nuclear plant on Lake Diefenbaker or at Elbow is designed to split the power evenly between both Saskatchewan and Alberta!? Yet, you can't split the risks involved with a nearby nuclear plant that our province's citizens would have to endure. Why would I put our beautiful province at risk for gas guzzling Alberta? THANKS SASK PARTY! THANKS FOR TRYING TO SCREW UP MY GENERATIONS FUTURE JUST TO WIN POWER! Thanks...

The Green Party of Saskatchewan was the only political party in the election to oppose nuclear. We were almost completely censored by the gatekeepers of the media though. Don't believe the myths. Nuclear is not green! Please seek out truthful information; don't rely on the media or the government to tell you what is green or safe.

The Green Party did well. We went from .55% of the vote in 2003 to 2% of the popular vote in 2007. In Moose Jaw-Wakamow, I received 2.27% of the votes. In 2003, the riding received 67 votes. This was my first time running in Wakamow, and the Greens received 167 votes, exactly 100 more than the last provincial election. I felt the same frustration after running for the federal riding of Palliser. I received about 3.5% of the votes. This was around 1200 votes, up from approximately 800 votes in the previous federal election. Growth in a new party takes time. I was excited to hear about the results of the latest Strategic Counsel survey (for the Globe and Mail/CTV News). Page 14 shows that the Green Party, with 13%, has overtaken both the NDP (12%) and the Bloc Quebecois (11%) ! This is the first time this has ever happened and it is quite surprising. For the Green Party of Canada, 13% is quite a growth from receiving approximately 5% of the vote in the 2006 federal election. However, I do not view public opinion polls as overly reliable. Regardless, the poll is encouraging.

The campaign was decent. It is always a unique experience. I am quite burnt-out from the high stress and constant demand of being a candidate without a large campaign team or enough donations. Although I am very tired, I am glad I took the opportunity to stand up for an alternative to rhetoric. I did have fun. I enjoy the debates, and I truly believe in Green Party policies. I do believe we are the party of the future. However, I really wish that future could start today.

Political Song of the Week:

Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire

This song is definitely one of the greatest political protest songs. The lyrics are so full of meaning, and despite being from 1965, this song is extremely relevant to today's society.

The following lyrics are from the beginning of the song:

"The Eastern world, it tis explodin'. Violence flarin', bullets loadin'. You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'. You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'."




Canada's Hut in the Global Village said...

I had a similar experience in my riding. I was also surprised by the results. I was sure Mark Wartman would get in for Regina-Qu'Appelle, however he lost to Laura Ross of the Sask Party. So I empathize with you. Did you hear that if the NDP would have had something to the effect of 1500 votes more in strategic ridings, they would have got in. I think your riding was one of them as was mine.I suppose we shouldn't dwell on the past but look to the future. That's some good news about the green party. Good luck next election.

PS. Maximum wage- How would that work?

Larissa Shasko said...
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Larissa Shasko said...
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Larissa Shasko said...


Maximum wages means placing a maximum on how much money someone can earn in a year. This move would not effect most of us, only the wealthy. The Green Party of Saskatchewan supports implementing a $1 million provincial/national maximum wage. According to Wikipedia, "A maximum wage is a state enforced limit on how much income an individual can earn. This is a related economic concept that is complimentary to the minimum wage used currently by some governments to enforce minimum earnings. Both a maximum and minimum wage are methods by which wealth can be redistributed within a society." It should be noted that Wikipedia is not always neutral.

My personal belief is that people should definitely be allowed to make enough to live well, but that if you have too much money to know what to spend it on, or have three SUVs, a hummer, a motorhome, and a vacation house in Italy, you are living too well. I like to stress the difference between wealthy and rich. I have heard it described as rich is a basketball player making millions to play basketball, while wealthy is the white man who signs the basketball player's cheques. One is living well, one is just greedy. Nothing is more addictive than wealth.

I wonder if it would work to set a level above the maximum wage that could only be earned by positions we rely on or have a shortage for: firemen, nurses, doctors, lab-techs, teachers, profs, vets, crisis workers, local farmers, etc.

This is a very new concept, and one I am still learning about! I think it has the potential to place the control of our world back into the hands of democracy and government. I view government as a small factor of control in our world next to consolidating mass conglomerates (especially within the media).

I did the debate with Laura Ross. She was nice, but I felt she was a weaker candidate than the others. Perhaps it was just that she was at a debate on women's issues and was representing the Sask Party. The two didn't seem to meld well.

Sorry about the defeat for the NDP in your riding. Glenn Hagel's was extremely close. He lost with only 33 votes less than Warren Michelson. Hagel could have opted for a recount, but said that it was not necessary. He stepped down respectfully.

You are right; we should look to the future.



Wolfman Brad said...

Hi. I just recently found your blog in a Google search for something else.

I know Glen quite well; when I spoke to him at NDP Convention this year, he had come to terms with what happened and put a lot of things in perspective. But to me, this doesn't change the fact that we lost a good, hard-working NDP MLA and exchanged him for a Sask Party backbencher. Ask yourself how the people of Moose Jaw are benefiting from this arrangement.

There were seven seats in the November election lost to just over 1500 votes. About 1000 of those votes went to the Green Party. This is something of an oversimplification, but I'm sure you understand the crux of my argument: the vote-splitting caused by the Greens directly affected the NDP's seat count.

When Elizabeth May was talking about strategic partnerships in her efforts to dethrone the Conservative Party as government, it behooved the Saskatchewan Greens to do the same. While I am not in favour of these sorts of alliances, the greens are a fringe party receiving protest votes, and will remain a fringe party for the foreseeable future. You will never form government. It will be a very long time until you have a candidate who fields 1000 votes.

It's time for the Greens to take a long, hard look at their policies and their long-term vision. If the goal of the Greens is to form government or opposition, a more reasonable target needs to be set. If the goal is to ensure more years of Conservative rule in Sakatchewan, then by all means, keep running candidates in ridings where the left-leaning vote can be split successfully. But if the goal is to help reunite the left and the "progressives", then start strategizing about how to concentrate the vote in key constituencies to remove the current regressives.

Your work needs to start soon; it's only three more years until you're due to lose again at the polls.

Larissa Shasko said...

Interesting post! I thank you for your suggestions. I must object, and do so realistically, when I say that the Green Party can, and will, form government. The Green Party of Canada has jumped from 5% of the votes in the last federal election to 13% in two of the ridings in the recent by-election (as well as standing at 13% in polls). As the Administrative and Finance Chair on the Young Greens of Canada Council (the entirely youth run wing of the Green Party of Canada), I can honestly say that we (YGC)are getting ready to form government in the near future. It has already been done in other countries because the Green Party is among the most effective means of combating climate change, and other political parties fall too short in their measures. Our policies are more environmentally progressive than those of the traditional mainline parties who have allowed things to get as bad as they are. The NDP supports nuclear. The Green Party of Saskatchewan does not. We are also against uranium mining. Either way the governing party was bound to lead Saskatchewan residents into greater involvenmnet in the nuclear industry. Now, the Sask Party is progressing with plans to build a nuclear power plant on Lake Diefenbaker or Elbow. How can this have happened? (Please see my blog "Nuclear is Never Good.") That alone is enough of a reason why the Green Party was needed in the past provincial election. I tried relentlessy to get the nuclear question on the table, but the media filtered everything (as per usual).

The Green Party is not just a political party, we seek to educate and provide altenative solutions. We always have said that our policies are free for the taking by other political parties. This is the case with the Liberal Party adopting the policy of a carbon tax. The Greens have long advocated for this, and to hear another party adopt the policy was a success for any Green Party member. An election is an important opportunity to reach people, to raise awareness, and to change minds. That is why I devote all of my spare time to the Green Party. Most people my age would be out on the town right now; instead, I am writing to you hoping that you will see how much I believe in the Green Party's vision and capability as a mainline political party. We are not left of center, but we have social policies that meet the existing challenges head on and ensure that we all live a good quality of life. We are not left of centre, we are not right of centre, we are just Green!

In the name of democracy and for the sake of my generation's future, we need the Green Party. We have never been a fringe party, just a political party in the process of formation. Unlike the Sask Party, we have started from nothing and grown steadily. The Green party of Canada has become a strong political force. I am sure this will upset some NDP supporters, but we are not the NDP! We have different policies, and if the Greens had already been in office as long as the NDP has, we would have accomplished a considerable amount more for this country, even if we had only one seat! We can get that seat, and we can do this soon!

I wouldn't be devoting my life to the Greens if I thought for a second that they were a fringe party. I have been involved with other politival parties and the Greens are much more real than the others. We are grassroots and many of our members and candidates(like myself) are activists. The Young Greens Council is busy non-stop, year round!

Today's youth hold the key to the Green Party forming government. The average age of a Canadian voter is 59! Almost 30% of members of the Green Party of Canada are under the age of 30. Most political parties have next to nothing for youth membership or involvement! Even without an increase in youth voter turnout, the youth of today (like myself) will become part of the 59 year old average someday.

However, you are right; we should not wait! The Green Party of Saskatchewan has a new executive and a new leader. We are working on a complete policy review and we have a four year plan taking place already. We are inviting other like-minded individuals to come and grow with us! It is an exciting time to be involved with the Green Party!

Ultimately, I believe that political parties should serve as instruments of choice. The current brokerage model of doing politics isn't working. The traditional parties are trying too hard to include everyones interests without excluding interests in order to win or maintain power. Instead, they end up serving the upper middle class, the rich, the wealthy, corporations, and industries such as oil and gas or nuclear. Proportional representation(PR) is an effective means of returning the power of choice to political parties. Since the Green Party is seeking to change minds first and foremost, we have had to perservere in our current electoral system of majority takes all where governments are often elected with as much as 70% of people casting votes for other political parties than that which wins.

It would be undemocratic for me to tell anyone who to vote for, and I would never do so. I respect the right to individual choice, and I believe that everyone who wants to vote Green should have an opportunity to do so. Those people who voted Green in Moose Jaw North chose to do so of their own belief and conviction. It is hard to stand up for what you believe in, especially when you know that it may take a while to reach your goals. As much of a loss that Glenn Hagel's departure was, I am proud of those Green voters in Moose Jaw North and everywhere in Saskatchewan who weren't afraid to vote for positive change and real solutions.



Anonymous said...

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