Thank you so much. Your passion and commitment energize and inspire me.
Thanks to everyone here in the room for such a warm welcome, and all your hard work. I want to thank everyone watching online and joining us today.
I want to thank all our amazing candidates coming from all across Ontario.
I want to thank our amazing staff volunteers, and supporters who’s done such wonderful work today.
Most of all, I want to thank Isabel and Sandy for that amazing introduction. Like so many parents across this province, I too, struggle to balance family and work life. And in politics, it’s not always easy.
I want to welcome you to Guelph–a caring community that is worth fighting for.
A community that I want to acknowledge is located on the traditional lands of the Attawandaron people and more recently, the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. A place where we reach out to our Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Métis neighbours as we strive to strengthen our relationships with our indigenous brothers and sisters.
I want to thank Bruce Weaver, who this morning, cleansed my mind and opened my heart with the smudging ceremony we had to open the Convention.
People Powered Change
What I’ve learned from my indigenous friends, from years growing up on the Farm, from my Business, from being Leader of our Party is the importance of stewardship — the importance of taking care of the people and places we love—for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and the next 7 generations.
I know that the people in this room and the people across this great province share our values — our values to defend this place, our home, the place we love – so that ourselves, our children and future generations will have a livable, prosperous future.
But people across Ontario tell me they are worried that the status quo at Queen’s Park is failing to secure this future.
The scandals and mismanagement of this Liberal government have put our future at risk. Billions wasted on gas plants, hydro privatization schemes and election-buying gimmicks – money that could be spent on health care, education and the public services we should fund.
I say that not to play partisan politics – I say it because partisan political games have real-world consequences. So remember that, the next time you have a loved one in a hospital bed, in the hallway in an overcrowded hospital, or remember it when your children don’t get the autism services they deserve. Remember it when your neighbors are put on a social housing list at time when we have more people on the waiting list than we have social housing units available.
People are starting to lose trust in government when they see the Big 3 parties are more interested in playing political games than solving people’s challenges.
And I experienced this firsthand last year when the Green Party led the charge to get Big Money out of politics.
I just want to take a moment to thank the thousands of people who signed our petition to get big money out of politics. I want to thank the media that exposed the hundred thousand dollar plate dinners with big corporate insiders and the Premier. It’s your efforts that gave us the leverage to go to Queen’s Park and demand change. And I have to give credit to the Premier and the opposition leaders for listening to your demands when I met with them.
But the thing that broke my heart, was that when I was trying to play the right role as an honest mediator between the Parties, to bring everyone together, and have a united front that we all said we agreed that we should ban union corporate donations to political parties and lower donation limits. I wanted to see the four parties have a news conference together, just like the news conference I organized here in Guelph in 2014 bringing all four provincial party candidates together to protect Guelph’s water.
I wanted to do that at Queens’ Park but I couldn’t get the other 3 party leaders to agree to that. Because it was more important to them to try to figure out how to use that issue to bash the other political parties than to show the people of Ontario that we can unite on areas that we agree to make a difference to make our lives and democracy better, to make this province better. That’s the kind of change we need to bring to Queen’s Park.
We know that the political status quo needs to change.
But that change won’t happen if people continue to vote out of fear for what they don’t want, instead of what they now hope, for what they do want.
That change won’t happen if people continue to vote for the same 3 parties.
It’s kind of like asking Big Beer to make craft beer. It’s not going to happen. Or it’s not going to happen very well.
The only way to change the status quo in Queen’s Park is to elect a new party, with a new vision and a new way of doing politics.
As Guelph’s MPP, I am ready to lead that change.
I am ready to take my seat at Queen’s Park and to fight for this community and the people of Ontario.
I know the Green candidates in ridings all across Ontario are ready to lead as well.
We will fight to stop the political games, the backroom deals, the attack ads, the scandals, and the poisonous political games at Queen’s Park.
We will fight to put people first–
Before our party’s self-interest, before deep pocketed donors, before well-connected insiders.
Ontario needs people powered change.
By the kind of people in this room.
We don’t have deep pocketed friends who send in well paid lobbyists to gain influence.
We have you.
We don’t have deals we can make or favours to return.
We have you.
As I look at the people in this room, they are people who put service before self.
And I believe that makes us the richest Party in Ontario.
We need a people powered party to have a seat at Queen’s Park—
Not parties powered by lobbyists.
Not parties powered by corporate insiders.
Not parties powered by backroom deals.
A party powered by citizens — By You.
So together, we are going to fight to defend what we have and to fight for a better future for our children.
I’m asking people all across Ontario to join us in this fight.
To fight against the Big Energy lobby that wants to triple electricity prices to rebuild outdated nuclear plants.
To fight for green middle class jobs built on the foundation of the 295,000 clean energy jobs, paying an average salary of $92,000 in Canada today.
To fight for 100% renewable energy future in our children’s lifetime.
To stand up for workers who deserve a living wage and local businesses who deserve fair taxes.
To fight for small businesses against the two parties of big business and the one party of no business at Queen’s Park.
To cut red tape for the disadvantaged in our society and to stop dragging our feet when it comes to delivering a Universal Basic Income for all.
To fight against systemic racism and sexism in this province.
To fight for the 12,000 children who are on a waiting list for mental health services right now in Ontario.
To fight to make sure you have the right to clean air and water.
To fight for a health care system that not only treats illness but prevents it in the first place. That cares for seniors in a dignified way in our communities.
To fight the big developers who want to chew up prime farmland and threaten Ontario’s Green Belt.
To make sure that young people can afford a decent home and a good education.
To connect our communities with world class transit and to be honest about how to pay for it.
And to give citizens the power to defend the people and places we love in this province.
Will you join us in delivering the people powered change Ontario desperately needs?
I want to be really clear – the time to act is now.
Climate scientists say we have only 696 days to reverse GHG emissions before we unleash irreversible, catastrophic climate change.
I refuse to make intense ice storms and hurricanes, floods and droughts, fires and polar vortexes the new normal for my children. I refuse to let that happen without putting up a fight.
I know that right now – it kind of feels like we are teetering on the edge of a cliff – that we’re only inches away from disaster.
But then I realize – as I look at the people in this room, I realize that we are also at a moment where transformative change can happen.
Just look at how inspiring and powerful the women’s movement is, reflected in the hundreds of thousands of women and men marching together globally for change. And the inspiring and brave stories of #MeToo, sharing experiences of sexism and harassment that have been buried for far too long.
People are hungry for change. They are ready to challenge the status quo.
So while we are fighting for climate change, we also need to fight for a climate of change in our society.
And so, over the next 124 days we can work together to change Ontario forever.
It won’t be easy. It’s not easy being Green.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way—
I have a saying I look at on my desk that I look at every morning:
It says, “I want to be elected choosing the right road, not the easy one.”
But if we work hard, if we put honesty, integrity and evidence-based policies ahead of political games, ahead of our own partisan self-interest, we can show people that politics can be done differently.
So I’m going to ask you to work hard over the next 124 days to bring our values and vision to the door steps of the people in Ontario, to bring is across the coffee shops of this province.
We are ready to seize this moment.
Never has the time been so right to amplify the rising voices of the new generation who want to do politics differently. Not only to celebrate and defend what Ontario has, but to build a future of what Ontario can be.
People around the world are demanding real change.
We see it in PEI, where the Greens doubled their caucus just a few months ago.
We see it in Iceland where they just elected their first Green Prime Minister.
We see it In BC where the Greens now hold the balance of power.
And this June, the Green Wave will hit Ontario.
A Green wave that will challenge the political status quo in this province.
So let’s commit today. Right here, right now.
To fight for every vote,
To fight for our children’s future
To fight for a new Green Ontario.
To fight to change politics in Ontario forever.
Let’s make history.
Let’s turn Ontario Greens on June 7th.