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Saskatchewan Green Party unveils free tuition, guaranteed income in platform

Click to play video 'In conversation with Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter' In conversation with Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter
WATCH: According to Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter, our province is facing not one crisis, but two — COVID-19 and climate change – Oct 20, 2020

The Saskatchewan Green Party’s 2020 platform, released on Tuesday morning, promises dramatic changes to the province if the party forms government.

Officially titled “A Fair and Caring Transition,” the document pledges to implement a guaranteed livable income, free post-secondary tuition and a new voting system for the province.

Leader Naomi Hunter told Global News voters would be open to the changes because of the province’s history of progressive politics.

FULL COVERAGE: 2020 Saskatchewan Election

“People always now kind of go, ‘Saskatchewan, so stodgy and conservative, really cool stuff isn’t going to start there first,’” she said.

“Nonsense. This is where truly progressive thought has always begun.”

Speaking over Zoom from Regina, Hunter said voters deserve a government that actually cares about them.

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She vowed to implement policies to help people and to donate her salary if those policies didn’t succeed.

“If I bring forward motions and they don’t happen, I’m perfectly prepared to donate my entire MLA salary to make sure that a homeless shelter stays open.”

To that end, her personal cellphone number is on the back of the document.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis — which she called the “real crisis” — presents opportunities for change, just as other periods of upheaval have throughout history.

The platform did not provide the costs of the initiatives.

Hunter said the party would release that information within a week’s time.

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She also said taxpayers would end up paying more if some of the initiatives weren’t implemented.

Read more: Saskatchewan Green Party leader striving to be premier with mix of seats

“(A Guaranteed Livable Income) ensures that we actually end up saving money because right now people slip through the cracks. And by the point in time that they are getting help, it’s at crisis level in the emergency room, in crisis centres… the cost is so incredibly high to taxpayers that it actually would have been cheaper to do the right thing all along.”

The document also refers to the Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) as a negative income tax, meaning those under a certain economic threshold would not pay income tax and would receive government funding instead.

The platform specifies the party would create a commission after forming government to determine a style of GLI that best suits Saskatchewan.

Read more: Saskatchewan Party releases full platform, promises balanced budget by 2024

The party is also promising to work towards raising the basic personal income tax level, stating that “no one under the poverty line should be paying income tax.”

Hunter said the GLI would be as easy to implement as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was and that any irregularities would be sorted out at tax time.

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She’s also promising a new voting system to disrupt the “dynasties” that usually hold power in the province, naming the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP.

“In a true democracy, we would see numerous voices in the legislature,” she said.

“We would see more like what we see in our federal parliament, where in our democracy we have the numerous political parties… I would like to see us have proportional representation.”

The platform mentions a mixed member proportional representation, a system in which voters select a representative for their constituency and a representative for their region.

Read more: NDP releases platform promising improved health care, smaller classrooms

A swathe of strict environmental regulations and protections also feature in the document.

It says the “the switch to alternate energy sources in Saskatchewan should begin as soon as possible,” and commits the province to reducing the use of clear-cutting to no more than 50 per cent of all forest harvesting within five years and to exclude water from all trade agreements, among other commitments.

The party has candidates in 60 out of 61 ridings across the province, which is not an accident.

Hunter said they were not have a candidate in Regina Walsh Acres to express solidarity with Sandra Morin, who did not receive the approval of NDP leader Ryan Meili and who is now running as an independent.

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Besides Morin’s riding, Hunter said she expected a Green candidate to win in every constituency.

“I find that when people start coming from a place of voting for what they actually believe in instead of voting out of fear for the guy they don’t like… almost all those people that you would think aren’t necessarily leftist voters –it turns out they really are.”

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili will square off on Oct. 14 at 6:05 p.m. in a debate that will be broadcast live on Global Regina and Saskatoon and on globalnews.ca.