program for a better tomorrow!
Applying Green Party of Saskatchewan Principles to future
GPS government policies
(An essay by Gerald Regnitter, prepared
for discussion within the GPS.)
Among the fastest growing sectors in the
agricultural market place are certified organically grown food products.
While this is a growing and premium market in Saskatchewan and Canada,
it is even more so in other parts of the world. Health and environmentally-conscious
consumers are demanding proof that their food is healthy and organically
produced. Being able to do so through recognized certification programs
is seen as an ever growing option in a stressed and distressed agricultural
Many citizens of the world have become
suspicious about the production practices behind many consumer products,
from wood products to shoes and clothing, from pineapple and bananas to
coffee and other food items. Consumers have organized boycotts of major
brand names that make their products in overseas sweatshops or by child
labour. The impact of First World purchasing patterns can influence the
experience of Third World growers and labourers.
Where certification programs used to only
refer to product safety or minimal quality levels, now more and more world
consumers are demanding certification programs that prove the item in
question was developed in a morally, and environmentally responsible manner.
Wood product manufactures need to prove
that the forest practices that started the production chain are environmentally
sustainable and socially responsible operations. The international Forest
Stewardship Council, which is currently establishing Canadian norms, is
an example of this growing trend. Consumers demand this certification
as a condition of purchase, and having such a certification can often
assure a niche in the marketplace and even a premium price for the product.
Business interests in all parts of the
world are increasingly seeking to be recognized by these certification
programs because they know it will enhance their business success. When
basic human ethics and socially responsible attitudes are lacking, the
pressure to realize greater corporate profits are forcing some corporations
to do the right thing!
Some will remember the fight of farm workers
in California to organize and obtain fair working conditions, and the
boycott of California grapes and other produce in the 1960's. There were
the programs to boycott produce from Chile while it was ruled by a brutal
dictator, Pinochet, or the boycott of South African goods during the apartheid
years. And there was a less successful campaign to boycott Kraft products
because of unfair practices in that company’s dealing with dairy
producers during the 1970's.
All of these things point to the impact
of an increasingly informed and morally sensitive consumer who wants to
be part of the solution, not part of a global problem.
Much alarm has been generated by recent
developments that come with globalization of the larger economy, and its
all-pervasive impact on every level of our economy. Concerns about GMO’s
and their introduction into agriculture and their pollution of the agricultural
environment are growing daily. Citizens are demanding that governments
protect them from the unbridled practices of global corporations.
These illustrations are given, not to
express a doom and gloom scenario for the future, but to suggest that
the problems that have raised public awareness also present us with an
unprecedented opportunity to create a new vision for the economy and society
of our Province of Saskatchewan.
A PLAN FOR A “ QUALITY
Currently the Department of Industry and
Resources has a plan to promote Saskatchewan Products by allowing a manufacturer
or producer to use a “Saskatchewan Made” logo on products
that meet a set level of Saskatchewan input in the form of materials or
labour. While attractive, the logo is little known and little used and
only assures a level of Saskatchewan content, and is not an assurance
A comprehensive program of identifying
Saskatchewan manufactured products, food and agricultural items, mining
and technology products, tourist and other services , and even Saskatchewan
Communities as “QUALITY SASKATCHEWAN”
should be developed.
The government of Saskatchewan should
launch and promote a comprehensive plan to make the name “Saskatchewan”
synonymous with high quality products, high quality experiences, and high
quality communities. Saskatchewan producers of agricultural and manufactured
products would be encouraged to meet high product quality standards, and
provide certified assurance that production was done in environmentally
and socially responsible and sustainable manner. Saskatchewan institutions
would be encouraged to meet high standards of program delivery, and supported
in their efforts to meet standards of ever greater excellence. Saskatchewan
communities would be supported in their efforts to provide services and
community living experiences that make them healthy and desirable places
for people of all ages to live.
would make use of quality, internationally recognized certification schemes
that already exist. Examples are the Forest Stewardship Council’s
Forest Products certification process and the certified organic food and
farm programs . Quality certification status should include areas of eco-tourism,
other tourism supports, ‘agri-industry’ operations such as
value-added food processing, and all areas of intensive livestock operations.
Mining and other resource extraction industries should be certified for
their safety practices, support of the local community, and environmentally
responsible extraction and processing practices. Education and training
institutions, and other elements of the Saskatchewan economy and Saskatchewan
experience should be rewarded for acquiring recognition for programs and
services of excellence.
should become synonymous with environmentally responsible and sustainable
practices, with respect for and support of local communities and local
economies, become synonymous with high standards of industrial safety
and good labour-management relations, become synonymous with centres of
excellence in professional schools and training institutions, become synonymous
with certified and accredited health care facilities and other aspects
of our social order.
would not just signify Saskatchewan content, but also high quality that
over time would acquire a prized national and international reputation.
While business and institutions would
see economic benefits of a quality and recognized certification program,
government policies and programs need to be developed to encourage and
support the transition to a worthy and growing Quality Saskatchewan
Initial costs to bring all of this about
can be offset by tax incentives or rebates. ( e.g. Farm support payments
would be directed in large part to farms that are working toward or already
meeting certification standards, and not to farming operations that fail
to meet such standards. The federal government’s new program to
support the development of “environmental plans” for farms
might be something in this direction.)
To make a Quality Saskatchewan
product or Quality Saskatchewan experience competitive
in the larger market place, a customer of such a product could be given
a direct or indirect benefit for supporting the higher cost item or program.
(The computer software and hardware industry has long used such practices
with their rebate programs that offer incentives to purchase certain products.)
If Quality Saskatchewan
were to be known to refer to products and services, and to the quality
of communities and community life in Saskatchewan, we would have created
something to attract people to live in smaller and larger “Quality”
communities. A Quality Saskatchewan community
would need to meet certain standards with regard to municipal services,
community facilities, and quality of life factors. A healthy rural economy
that supports farm families could do much to support and sustain quality
rural communities as well.
Currently the United Nations ranks countries
and cities as good places for people to live, and Saskatchewan communities
meet these high standards. Clean environments, good medical and education
services and good food and safe water are factors used in these rankings.
This is seen to be important in attracting people and industry to locate
here. We know that educational institutions that operate “centres
of excellence” attract the best and the brightest and so become
even better. We know that agriculture, industry , forestry, local communities
and tourist operations, working together with a common vision and goal
to create a quality Quality Saskatchewan product
and experience will be more successful than would be the case when working
alone. Instead of working independently and often at cross purposes, these
diverse sectors of our community would realize that cooperation will best
bring about common successes.
Such broad ranging cooperation, inspired
by the goal of realizing a Quality Saskatchewan
status, will restore the vitality of the cooperative spirit that sustained
and nourished early Saskatchewan society.
Cooperation between industry, municipalities,
and the farming sector to ensure air free of agricultural pollution [e.g.
stubble burning], industrial air pollution, effective animal waste management
plans, strict control of surface and underground water supplies and others,
will do a lot to ensure the quality environment that so many people want
Not only would an effective Quality
Saskatchewan program help our economy grow and diversify
and decentralize, but it would sustain the health and quality of life
for current residents of Saskatchewan, and for those who would want to
join us in such an enhanced living experience. This would include our
own children and grandchildren who now cannot see their futures in Saskatchewan.
An effective Quality Saskatchewan
program would take time to develop and would require a long range vision
for a different and better society. Saskatchewan has been the leader for
the rest of the country and other parts of the world when Saskatchewan
leaders shared such vision with the people. We saw this in the evolution
of producer and consumer co-operatives. We saw this in the creation of
a public health care system.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan
has people with a vision for a better tomorrow. Let us clarify that vision,
and then share it with the people of Saskatchewan who can make that
for tomorrow happen just as the people of Saskatchewan have done in the