The Green Party of Saskatchewan has found its candidate for the Prince Albert Carlton constituency.
© Submitted photo
Dental therapist Amelia Swiderski has been acclaimed as the Saskatchewan Green Party’s candidate for the Prince Albert Carlton constituency in the 2016 provincial election.
On Friday, the party announced that it had acclaimed dental therapist Amelia Swiderski to run as part of its full slate of candidates for the 2016 provincial election.
While Swiderski grew up in Prince Albert and has family in the area, she currently lives in the town of Kelvington, which is located approximately 250 kilometres east of P.A.
“It’s quite a ways away,” Green Party Leader Victor Lau acknowledged. “We’re hoping if she has time, we’ll get her out there to campaign.
“She’s basically told the party that she wants to help the party in any way she can and this is one way she can do that,” he added. “But realistically, we’re going to be focusing on people that have the time and as well the resources to run strong campaigns.
“In her case … if (Prince Albert voters) choose to elect her as a member of the legislative assembly, she will take her seat. But realistically, in terms of time commitment, she’s going to have to decide what she can commit once the campaign gets called.”
Swiderski previously ran as the Green Party candidate in the Wood River constituency in 2014 and is married to the party’s deputy leader Owen Swiderski.
Her father, an independent businessman, had earlier ran in the Prince Albert Carlton constituency, but competing priorities prevented him from running this time.
As the Greens set out looking for a suitable replacement, they searched in vain through their contacts for a candidate in the Prince Albert area, but ultimately made a strategic direction to solidify their slate early on in order to focus on candidate training, fundraising and getting their message out through the media.
At that point, the party turned to Amelia Swiderski, who seemed to fit the bill due to her family ties to the area, the fact that she lived in Prince Albert for many years and her complementing the party’s slate of female candidates.
The Saskatchewan Greens have set themselves the goal of running at least 50 per cent female candidates in the next election -- a goal they have now achieved with more than 31 out of 61 candidates in the next election female.
Though Swiderski was willing to run for Prince Albert Carlton, her time was squeezed due to having recently established her own dental practice.
“She said, ‘Let my name stand if you want,’ but she didn’t want to do any candidate work, so I’m like, ‘OK, alright,’” Lau recalled with a chuckle. “I got the message pretty clear from that.”
In its official release announcing Swiderski’s candidacy, the Green Party noted that she was “extremely busy with work and will not be available to do any media interviews.”
Asked how their candidate’s inaccessibility to the media would affect the party’s ability to get its message out, Lau responded, “I don’t think it looks terrible. I mean, most of the questions are going to fall usually on the leader’s desk.”
She’s basically told the party that she wants to help the party in any way she can. Victor Lau
“We’ve seen in the Sask. Party’s case, most MLAs aren’t known to their constituents -- at least from our door-knocking in the rural areas, trying to raise awareness of the Green Party.”
Many constituents, he pointed out, did not know who their local representative was. Others replied that in the last election, they had simply voted for “Brad Wall’s party, the Sask. Party.”
“So the focus is tremendously on the leader,” Lau added. “Obviously we do like local candidates, we’ve been encouraging people locally to run … For us, we’re a small party, we don’t have tons of resources, and so when someone like Amelia is willing to step up, and she does have some historical background and linkages to PA, we feel that’s pretty acceptable … We’ll just have to see what the voters think at the end of the day.”
Noting Swiderski’s concern for the environment, Lau said the candidate would be concentrating on issues such as dealing with poverty, access to government programs in Prince Albert and the perennial issue of a second bridge.
“We haven’t made an announcement yet on it, but I think our party stance will be to get it done,” Lau said.
He added, “If the people want an MLA that’ll stand up for the bridge, they certainly will have two of them that they can elect to do that.”
Lau expressed surprise when informed that Premier Brad Wall recently expressed support for building a second bridge through a public-private partnership, or P3.
Nevertheless, he drew a comparison with how the premier expressed support for twinning Highway 39 after the Greens issued a press release arguing for the same.
“We’re all having a marginal or at least a larger than marginal effect in terms of influencing the premier, so this is good news if he’s actually putting his weight towards that,” Lau said.
“Whether it’s Green MLAs or Sask. Party MLAs, hopefully we can work together and make sure that bridge gets built. It’s a good infrastructure project and it’s been a long time coming. So that’s great news, actually. I hadn’t heard that.”
Looking ahead, the Greens are hoping to wrap up their nominations in the next two weeks, after which they plan to disseminate their party platform in the first week of September.
Lau noted that the party was still open to allowing a local candidate to run in Swiderski’s place should one volunteer.
“If they find out that, say in Amelia’s case, that she’s not running locally, maybe someone local will step up and represent the Green Party directly,” he said.
“We’d love to have those discussions and maybe we can kind of move some other candidates out and put some local candidates in. That’d be really, really wonderful.”