Since becoming Green leader a little over a year ago, Victor Lau has focused on raising the party’s profile by expanding local constituency associations, maintaining links with candidates and organizing work on the ground.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Lau said. “We inherited a party that doesn’t have a lot of financing. It’s small. We’re very proud of our membership, but it’s very spread out, and until we can kind of build constituency associations in every riding, we won’t have the muscle to kind of push through and actually elect some MLAs. So that’s what (personal assistant) John (Murney) and me are doing, basically going around and talking to people about building the party.”
Lau met with Mayor Jim Scarrow on Saturday to learn more about the issues that most concern Prince Albert voters.
One of the recurring themes Lau emphasized was his desire to “professionalize” or “modernize” the Green Party. Fighting the perception that the Greens are a party of radical environmentalists only concerned with one issue, he pointed to the success of Green parties around the world in countries such as Germany, where Greens form the government in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
“There’s this wealth of experience that people don’t know about, and I want to try and change that perception that the Green Party either is unelectable or has been elected but they’re ineffectual, there’s no real solutions there, that kind of thing,” Lau said.
“But professionalizing the party also means that when people vote Green, they feel comfortable that they’re not just voting for a radical, they’re not just voting for somebody that’s going to get in there and change everything overnight. We’re going to get in there and be a responsible government held to account by the citizens. We made promises, we’re going to keep those promises, but we’re also not going to basically break the bank or devastate whole industries. We’re going to be a slow and steady government.”
We’re going to be a slow and steady government. - Victor Lau
Lau suggested that his party would take a more active approach in engaging citizens in the formation of government policy through the use of citizens’ assemblies, or by turning Crown corporations into Crown co-operatives. He also believed his government could engage with private industry to help transition away from fossil fuels towards more sustainable energy sources —though he favours a blanket ban on nuclear power.
The possibility of a Green government placing more regulations on businesses raises the threat of capital flight out of the province. But Lau stressed that any drastic actions such as nationalization would only arise after being put to voters in a referendum.
He described the Green Party under his leadership as neither left nor right, but pragmatic and non-ideological. Despite an increasingly polarized political atmosphere in Canada and internationally, Lau believes this centrist strategy will allow the party to stake out a position in government between the ruling Saskatchewan Party and the opposition NDP.
“What we’re saying to NDP types, if you want to call that progressive … is saying, look, your party had a long time in history in government,” he said. “Did they come through on the promises that they gave you? And I think you have to answer yourself. Maybe they did. I don’t think they did; that’s partly why I left. I was a New Democrat for a short while.
“To the Brad Wall supporters, the conservatives and right-leaning Liberals, we would say look, maybe they’re doing everything right, but if they’re not, then consider us your party, because we’re open to hearing your message, your solutions, your policies. We want to … if we get the chance to form government after Brad Wall, basically fix up the things that he didn’t fix up. I mean, that to me is the best form of government … a government that actually wants to basically make sure that all the solutions are there during their term in office.”