Thursday, March 31, 2011

Follow Larissa Shasko on Twitter!

You can now follow me on Twitter! Larissa_Shasko or!/Larissa_Shasko
Start following me on Twitter on April 1st for Fossil Fools Day posts on the tar sands, carbon capture, and nuclear.
Check out my newly updated facebook political page at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Provincial Budget Reaction -- Saskatchewan's 2011/12 Budget Released Yesterday

The Wall Government has the audacity to brag about how they are improving public services in this budget, but just last year they cut 25% of the civil service as part of major budget cuts necessitated by Brad Wall's bad fiscal management over the 2009/2010 year, cuts that are still taking place and will continue to cut down our public service for another 9 years. With 15% of the civil service being cut over the next four years, how can Wall possibly be bragging about improving Saskatchewan's public services after his government is the one who has destroyed them? The SaskParty cut $25 million to the Department of Environment's budget last year and this year they brag about how good public services are? Our environment in this province has been deliberately left with inadequate protection by Premier Wall, a move that is common when one is running a corporatocracy instead of a democracy as Wall is doing.

Just like with Harper's federal budget, Wall's budget completely ignores the harsh economic times that many people in Saskatchewan are facing, times that are getting more difficult instead of better. Food prices are rising, way beyond what can be considered an affordable cost for food, and soaring gas prices are putting immense stress on everyday people who are already financially stressed to the max by what many are now calling the 'great recession.' Brad Wall likes to brag about Saskatchewan's growing GDP while ignoring how food bank usage has spiked in our province.

As with the federal budget, social spending is completely inadequate to meet the needs of Saskatchewan people who are struggling, some of whose quality of life is not that far off from third world countries. Why do we allow poverty to run rampant in our province while our Premier boasts about a good quality of living? Brad Wall, as usual, is out of touch with the reality of everyday Saskatchewan citizens. A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government would work to eliminate poverty in our province.

Wall's budget should have reinstated the universal chiropractic subsidy that Wall eliminated in last year's budget, as this is adding extra stress on our publicly funded healthcare system and is causing many people to live in pain instead of seeking medical treatment from a chiropractor as they used to. As Saskatchewan's first Green Premier, I would ensure that the universal chiropractor subsidy is reinstated and expanded, and I would take measures to create a similar universal subsidy for medical massage therapy. Furthermore, as your Green Premier, I would reinstate the school dental program as the first measure toward including dental services as part of our publicly funded healthcare system.

This budget fails to listen to the needs of students. Holding tuition increases to an average of three percent does not recognize the extremely stressful economic circumstances post-secondary students in our province are facing. Where are the student loan debt relief programs? Why not provide funding in this budget to freeze tuition increases and reduce tuition for Saskatchewan students?

This budget really lacks the innovation and sound fiscal management a Green Party of Saskatchewan Government would employ. The Green vision is for an economy that truly offers a good quality of living to all the people in our province. Unlike the Wall Government, we would actually make this happen. We will not turn a blind eye to the those whose quality of life this budget does nothing to improve.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan's economic vision for this province is for a Decentralized Renewable Energy Economy, Making Saskatchewan World Leader's in Ecological Agriculture, and Innovating Saskatchewan's Economy through Investment in the Creative Industries. We will eliminate poverty and ensure everyone in our province has good quality affordable housing available to them. A Green Government will restore and protect our publicly funded healthcare system and we will ease the burden on our system through the addition of healthcare methods based on prevention.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan's economic vision is sustainable, for generations to come. Wall's economic vision for a boom to bust Saskatchewan is not the road we would take Saskatchewan down. We have learned from Alberta's mistakes and would not repeat them as Wall is doing.

Saskatchewan urgently needed a budget that would help those who are struggling the most right now in our province, and Wall's budget shows his government remains committed to the interests of corporations over citizens. For example, the slight reduction in the small business tax does very little to address that many small business have been forced to close because of large corporations encouraged by Brad Wall to come into our province.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Federal Budget Reaction -- Spring Election Likely!

My first reaction to this budget is disappointment. A spring election looks inevitable, triggered because of the Harper Government's commitment to corporate interests over the interests of citizens. Food prices are rising, way beyond what can be considered an affordable cost for food, and soaring gas prices are putting immense stress on everyday Canadians who are already financially stressed to the max by what many are now calling the 'great recession.' Where are the personal income tax cuts for those on the lower and middle income end? The road back to balanced budgets requires that we raise corporate taxes, which have been trimmed down to practically nothing compared to what they once were. Why should the burden to pay down the debt be shifted onto citizens while corporations get a free ride? Small and locally owned businesses need serious support in order to protect Canada's local economy. We are talking about the lives of real people, real Canadians, but Harper and Flaherty just aren't getting it. They aren't listening, and so we will be back to the polls for another federal election.

The bright side is that Canadians can send Green M.P.s to Parliament this time around, and considering the embarassing state of Canada's environmental and human rights reputation thanks to Harper's leadership (or lack of leadership), Green M.P.s are urgently needed in Parliament!

In terms of social spending, this federal budget is, as usual, totally inadequate as to what is actually needed to meet the needs of Canadian people. This budget also fails to address the major flaw in Canada's taxation structure which is causing a serious financial shortfall in Canadian cities. Across Canada, cities like Moose Jaw and Regina are struggling to figure out how they are going to avoid huge property tax increases as their populations rise and infrastructure ages. A Green Party of Canada Government will listen to the request made by Canadian cities to have a portion of the the GST (1 cent) transferred directly to municipalities.

Greens are always ready to stand up for the democratic rights of Canadians, and so we are prepared for this election. I am pleased to offer the citizens of Palliser the opportunity to have a progressive, experienced voice of representation in Ottawa, a voice that will stand up for the needs of the people I represent while also standing up for the democratic rights of all Canadians. Your vote can make that happen.

Paying for and Powering the Moose Jaw Multiplex The Common Sense, Green Way!

On March 12th, Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Larissa Shasko hosted a lively and informative public discussion at the Moose Jaw public library on how to pay for and power the Moose Jaw multiplex the common sense, Green way.

A number of subjects were up for discussion, including

- How we can pay for and power the new Moose Jaw multiplex and field house
- Investing tax-payers dollars in green energy capital projects that will reduce costly utility bills.
- Compare renewable and non-renewable energy options
- Pay down the multiplex debt faster while also lowering our city’s environmental footprint
- Become innovative leaders in green energy use
- Attract the renewable energy industry to Moose Jaw, creating new jobs and a stronger local economy.
- Solve Moose Jaw's transit problem by solving the multiplex parking problem

The local media provided the following coverage of the event:

Thanks to all those who attended!

News coverage in Leader-Post resulting from last Friday's GPS press conference on nuclear crisis in Japan

The Green Party of Saskatchewan press conference held last week to address the nuclear crisis in Japan received solid coverage in the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspapers.

Read the full article "Nuclear crisis a grim reminder: Green Party" from the March 19, 2011 edition of the Leader-Post at

(The same story in the Star Phoenix under the title, “Greens decry nuclear”.)

The article begins,

The crisis unfolding at a nuclear power plant in Japan should be a wake-up call to Saskatchewan to step away from nuclear research and focus financial resources on renewable energy, the provincial Green Party said at a news conference Friday.

"Saskatchewan can lead the way in becoming world leaders in renewable energy," party leader Larissa Shasko said.

Shasko was "disappointed" in recent statements made by SaskPower Minister Rob Norris, who said that the nuclear events in Japan are further evidence of why Saskatchewan should contribute more to nuclear science, and continue research in areas such as materials science, medicine and small reactor technology.

"More science in nuclear is not the answer. More science in renewable energy is," said Shasko.

Read more:

Green Party Press Conference to Address Nuclear Crisis in Japan

Press Release from March 16, 2011:

The Green Party of Saskatchewan would like to offer our support for the people of Japan following the events of last week. Larissa Shasko, Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan, will be hosting an urgent press conference in Regina this Friday, March 18, at the Saskatchewan Legislature (Members Dining Room) at 10:00am to address the Wall Government's position that the nuclear crisis in Japan is all the more reason to research and develop nuclear technology in Saskatchewan. The Green Party of Saskatchewan greatly disagrees with this position and the comments made by the Minister responsible for SaskPower, Rob Norris.

Minister Rob Norris is a former Vice-President of the University of Saskatchewan. In response to the nuclear crisis in Japan, Norris has chosen to defend the Government of Saskatchewan’s plan, (or is it the plan of Bruce Power?) to continue tax-payer funding of the industry. On March 3, 2011, the Wall Government announced they are giving $30 million of public money to the University of Saskatchewan with strings attached: the money has to be for the nuclear industry. It is as though there are no lessons to be learned from what is happening in Japan. It is as though the Public Consultations in 2009 never happened. Through the consultation process the citizens of Saskatchewan said “no” to nuclear in this province, yet the Wall Government has forged ahead with plans for the full nuclear industrialization of Saskatchewan. According to Green Party Leader Larissa Shasko, “Premier Wall has chosen to listen to the voices of the nuclear industry and ignore the voices of Citizens.”

Rob Norris said the tax-payers of Saskatchewan have an “ethical obligation” [1] to move forward with the industry. The nuclear events in Japan have triggered well-founded fear right around this small planet. The track record of “assurances” provided to the public by the nuclear industry and Government officials warn us to think for ourselves. What is our “ethical obligation”? Clearly it is to eliminate the cause of the fear. We need to stop the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan.

It is uncertain whether Japan will ever recover economically from the earthquake and tsunami disaster compounded by the nuclear explosions. “I wonder whether the citizens of Japan will thank Saskatchewan for our contributions of fuel for nuclear reactors,” states Shasko.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan is working to lead the way to a different vision for our province and the world, where renewable energy is providing safe and clean power and good jobs. And where nuclear and all of its risks are phased out permanently.

[1] Saskatchewan moves ahead with nuclear agenda despite crisis in Japan
Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press
Mon, 14 Mar 2011 18:19:00 CST

Press Release from March 8, 2011 -- Green Party Leader, Larissa Shasko: "Undemocratic alliance between the Government, the University and Cameco"

Released to the Press March 8, 2011

The people of Saskatchewan said, "No to nuclear. It is by far too expensive an option." The $30 million to further develop the Canadian Nuclear Studies Centre at the University of Saskatchewan merely trots Cameco, Bruce Power and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization in through the back door which is the University.

On March 2, 2011, Premier Brad Wall and Minister responsible for Innovation, Rob Norris, announced $30 million in public funding for a new nuclear research centre at the University of Saskatchewan. The announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm by University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon who said the new research centre will complement and strengthen the university's existing nuclear research infrastructure.

Quite the reverse: “Brad Wall's actions are having an adverse effect on the youth of this province whose universities are being turned into corporate research hubs funded by taxpayers’ dollars and rising tuition fees,” states Larissa Shasko, Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall, in Grant Devine-style, has already ordered up an overall debt of $4.1 billion or $12.4 billion (depending on how you count it) for citizens to pay.[1] The history of the nuclear industry in Ontario and in New Brunswick is one of expensive electricity, decades of heavy interest on debt loads and cost overruns. This $30 million for the nuclear industry through the University is a very small down payment on what is to come when the Governments at both levels (federal and provincial), the nuclear industry and the University come up with a plan for the industry.

Conflicts of Interest: The merry-go-round between the Federal Government, the Provincial Government and Cameco:

  • Grant Isaacs, former Dean of the Edwards School of Business, U of S, becomes a senior Vice-President at Cameco
  • Rob Norris, Vice-President of the University runs for the Sask Party and becomes Minister responsible for Higher Education
  • Richard Florizone, Vice-President of Finance for the University, becomes Chair of the UDP Committee, the industry-stacked "Partnership" that puts forth Cameco and Bruce Power's plans for the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan
  • The Provincial and Federal Governments put up tax-payer money
  • University President Peter MacKinnon's term is up at the University
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints Peter MacKinnon to the Committee that will make recommendations to the Prime Minister on the civil service.
  • That leaves one seat vacant ... who now becomes the President of the University for the industry?
"The Green Party is, was, and forever will be supportive of energy sources that don't bankrupt the people of Saskatchewan. Jobs are abundant in the renewable energy sector," states Shasko.



The Leader-Post March 5, 2011

“Though critics point to a near-$400-million increase in Saskatchewan's overall debt in 2011, to $8.3 billion, all of that increase is on the Crown corporation side where money is borrowed to pay for business development and new infrastructure. The government's own "public" debt remains unchanged at $4.1 billion.”

Press Release from January 20, 2011 - "Green Party Says Premier Is Betraying Democracy with Plans to Build Small Nuclear Reactors in Saskatchewan"

Released to the press on January 20, 2011:

Green Party of Saskatchewan Leader Larissa Shasko is outraged by Premier Wall's announcement made yesterday of plans to build small nuclear reactors in our province. According to Shasko, "The Government has not listened to the public consultations in 2009 which overwhelmingly said 'we don't want the nuclear industry in our province.' In doing so, Brad Wall has completely turned a blind eye to our democratic rights as citizens."

Small nuclear reactor technology has already been rejected by the people of this province in the 2009 public consultations. Small nuclear reactors come with a huge price tag and do not make economic sense when compared to the alternatives of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy conservation. According to the Saskatchewan Greens, small nuclear reactors pose unnecessary safety risks, pollute our environment and are not needed. "As coal plants age, energy conservation and energy efficiency need to be maximized, and decentralized renewable energy needs to be implemented at a large scale," states Shasko.

Shasko also warns that building small nuclear reactors in our province would leave Saskatchewan wide open as a location for a nuclear waste dump in our province. Saskatchewan communities are currently being targeted by the nuclear industry for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste. This has consequences for all people in Saskatchewan. According to Shasko, "We need legislation passed in our province immediately to ban the transportation and storage of nuclear waste in Saskatchewan -- to protect our province from becoming a nuclear waste dump site. If we build small nuclear reactors in Saskatchewan, we would then be creating nuclear waste here, so we would be even more heavily targeted as a site for a national or international nuclear waste dump. Brad Wall has been misleading voters on the nuclear issue, right from reactors to waste. Brad Wall's commitment to the nuclear industry over the democratic orders of Saskatchewan citizens has shown that the Sask Party can not be trusted by voters."

Shasko points out that the Green Party of Saskatchewan has a different vision for our province. "Jobs are abundant in the renewable energy sector," says Shasko, and the Green Party of Saskatchewan’s plan to create a decentralized renewable energy economy will put both power and money into the hands of Saskatchewan people. The Wall Government has projected that Saskatchewan’s energy needs will continue to rise drastically, regardless of a basically stagnant population and a worsening climate crisis, but the Green Party recognizes that if we want to survive as a planet, our energy needs must be reduced. Saskatchewan has barely seen energy conservation utilized, which is unfortunate because energy conservation is the most cost effective and fastest way to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of taking the climate crisis seriously, the Sask Party Government is going to let the rate of GHG emissions in this province grow drastically to allow for an increased pace and scale of resource extraction. The Wall Government wants to see every last bit of natural resources in our province taken out of the ground over the short-term future leaving nothing but ecological destruction behind for future generations. According to the Saskatchewan Greens, our resource royalities are grossly inadequate. Shasko notes that nearly all of the resources mined here are exported across borders and overseas where those resources pollute the air, water, and soil of other regions. "Under Brad Wall‘s leadership (or lack of leadership), Saskatchewan has become an exporter of climate change," states Shasko. She notes that Saskatchewan’s Minister of the Environment was sent to the Copenhagen climate conference to lobby against a deal from being signed that would interfere with the Wall Government’s plan to develop the tar sands in northern Saskatchewan. According to Shasko, "We can not continue on this path to eco-destruction. Millions if not billions of dollars will be wasted on small reactors that will utimately be used to supply power to the mining industry, as stated in the Government's Uranium Development Partnership Report. Nuclear powered tar sands is an absurd concept!!" The provincial Greens take the position that the mining industry's growing demands for power should not burden public taxpayers.

Shasko states, "Under a Green Government, we will become world leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. As a province, we were leaders with healthcare; now it is time to lead the way in the 21st century to a decentralized renewable energy economy. Unlike the Wall Government, the Green Party of Saskatchewan has been listening to the concerns of those people in our province who are suffering during this time of economic hardship, and we know it doesn’t have to be this way if the voters of this province choose not to re-elect a provincial government who is committed only to the interests of big business while turning a blind eye to increased stress in the lives of the people who live here."