Still Life 05Few people will know this, but Larissa Shasko is the leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan. I know this because she and two party stalwarts stopped in at the Station Arts Centre a few months ago and we had a chat about this and that, after which I wished them luck and gave them my card. I now get their email communications: policy developments, nominations, news, etc.
So I was drawn to a podcast of a guest appearance by Larissa on John Gormley live. Gormley is Saskatchewan’s resident "right-wing" talk show host on Rawlco Radio’s News Talk 650 in Saskatoon, a role that seems to have become a staple fixture in every North American city these days. The subject was nuclear energy. John Gormley is avidly for it; Larissa Shasko is adamantly against it. I’m guessing that no minds were changed by the exchange. Neither was it a very “compelling” subject; Gormley had to work hard to get three people to phone in.
The basic positions are clear: Saskatchewan mines raw uranium and will need energy in the future; it makes obvious economic sense for the province to exploit this resource for energy and medical purposes. On the Green Party side: the problems of safety have not been resolved and we don’t appear to be getting closer to finding, for instance, a safe storage place for spent, radioactive material; at the same time, it diverts us from the real challenge, namely to make advances in solar and wind technology and the reduction of our need for more and more energy.
Two observations: the earthquake and tsunami in Japan raised memories of Chernobyl and although Saskatchewan contains no earthquake-prone fault lines, we all share a fear of the silent, invisible killer that nuclear power plants can’t keep caged with complete certainty. And secondly, economic arguments, compelling as they may be, shouldn’t be as determinant as they seem to have become. Nuclear energy—or any other consequential enterprise, for that matter—has cultural, social, religious, ecological, anthropological, psychological, health, environmental and practical implications as well. Why not argue the nuclear debate from a health point of view, for instance? Surely health is as important to us as economics.
It seems to be the first order of business for our culture—and particularly that portion of it we call the “right wing,”—to strip each decision of every consideration except the economic. If it makes us richer, it must be good.
I have to give the Green Party this: they’re not afraid to stand up and shout out that these are not simple, single-minded debates; that there are mighty things at stake here, things that no amount of money can remedy if they go wrong.
Seems to me the Green Party is the only one that isn’t yet embedded in the political culture of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and the Bloc, where winning the next election is more immediate than making wise choices. Maybe that would become the Green’s future should they win substantial seats in any election, I don’t know. But when I look at the platforms of the parties, it’s the Green Party that expresses most closely my own view of how this culture ought to shape its future.
Gormley praised Shasko for being the only “left-wing” representative willing to appear on his show. It’s a sign of the political climate in Saskatchewan that every action, every comment has to be placed in a left-wing or right-wing box, which means in turn that every argument is categorized and accepted or rejected not on its merits, but on whether its source is the right or left. How sad is it when a wind generator can be categorized as a part of socialist plot?
Go, Larissa Shasko, go.