Happy Lunar New Year!

Today marks the beginning of Lunar New Year – a celebration of light and sound, where communities come together to mark the beginning of the year of the dog.

The most important date in the Lunar calendar, this holiday is beautiful. Celebrated with parades, dragon dances, the exchange of gifts, and spending time with family and loved ones.

New Year’s celebrations are important for all of us, as they offer the opportunity for renewal and to find peace moving forward in to the year ahead.

The Leader, Mike Schreiner, and the Green Party of Ontario would like to wish all who are celebrating a happy and prosperous New Year!

My Reflections on Black History Month by Kevin Sutton

February has become a time to reflect on and honour the history of the black experience in Canada. It is a legacy of both tragedy and triumph, of both hope and frustration, of bold dreams and relentless perseverance. We remember freedom-seekers sidelined from our collective memory because of the colour of their skin, and recognize that for all the progress we have made, the marginalization continues. This is a month where we renew our vows, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to challenge the scourge of racism and embrace one another with dignity and respect.

February has become a time that inspires new heroes to step forward and persevere toward this dream. This year more than most. As powerful new voices drive social justice to the fore, they are opposed and frustrated by forces still representing the tragic side of our Canadian legacy – a history that made declaring a Charter of Rights and Freedoms necessary, and leaves us with a long way to go before we can reconcile with the Truth. This year we find ourselves in the position of making a choice – between stagnating and repeating our frustrating tragedies, or stepping forward into the dream of what Canada could be: the shining light of hope in the hearts of freedom seekers on an underground railroad, who envisioned a verdant land, lush with promise.

So when I reflect upon the Canadian black experience, when the cold air of February fills my lungs and swells my chest, I lift my chin and face its frigid wind. Because I choose to remember the triumphant spirit of freedom seekers and hopeful dreamers persevering through frustration and tragedy. I choose to join a diversity of powerful voices in bringing what was underground to light. I choose to persevere and progress toward a vision of Canada hoped for, and so doing fulfill that promise of pastures lush and Green.

Kevin Sutton is a community organizer, spoken word performer, equity and diversity facilitator and Guelph Greens volunteer coordinator.

Welcoming Sly Castaldi to the race for Guelph

“Congratulations to Sly Castaldi on her nomination as the Liberal candidate in Guelph,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

“I have great respect for Ms. Castaldi and her efforts in the community, particularly her strong voice in the fight to end violence against women,” added Schreiner.

Big party politics comes with its own challenges, including the need to toe the big party line.

“As a Liberal candidate, I wonder if Ms. Castaldi will be able to put people in Guelph first over toeing the party line? For example, will she be able to stand up for affordable housing units for new developments, like the proposed new condo at Wellington and Wyndham St?”

The Liberals have proposed weak and ineffective fixes to the housing affordability crisis. Housing advocates have called the Liberals’ affordable housing plan “a monstrous failure,” one that amounts to “picking municipal pockets to line the pockets of developers,” according to one city Councilor.

The proposed changes are merely paying lip service, placing an unusually low cap on the voluntary allocation of affordable units in a new development at 5% or 10% in high density locations, and requiring municipal governments to use property taxes to pay an unprecedented 40 percent of the cost.

Meanwhile, some families are being pushed out of this great city because of housing costs.

“I challenge Ms. Castaldi and the Liberal Party to put the needs of people in Guelph first,” said Schreiner. “The Green Party is calling for new developments to include 1 new unit of affordable housing for every 5 new houses or condos. Will the big Liberal machine follow the Green Party’s lead to create real change in making homes affordable?”

The Green Party of Ontario is working to make history in the June 7, 2018 provincial election. The party intends to run a full, gender balanced slate of candidates for the upcoming campaign.

Cities Deserve Library Funding

The Honourable Daiene Vernile
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
900 Bay St
Hearst Block, 9th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2E1

February 13, 2018

Dear Hon. Minister Vernile:

I’m writing to encourage you to support increased funding for public libraries.

This issue came up a number of times last week during the pre-budget hearings we both attended in Kitchener.

Today, Guelph City Council will review and vote on the business plan for a new City of Guelph main library. The business case for the library is an important reminder of the essential role libraries play in supporting affordable, livable communities.

The Guelph vision for the future of our library highlights the evolving role of libraries in our communities. Libraries serve as inclusive community hubs that connect citizens with information, services  and each other. Increasingly, libraries play an essential role in bridging the digital divide, reducing the effects of poverty and providing access to information and digital services. Modern libraries are economic incubators that support innovation, entrepreneurism and community economic development. Libraries welcome new Canadians to our communities, support literacy and ESL services.

Libraries provide cities and towns with economic, social and community benefits.

Yet, for 20 years the provincial government has frozen the budget to support local libraries. This is a short-sighted move by the province with long term consequences. This policy of freezing library funding means libraries have 42% less money today due to inflation and places a further burden on an already stressed municipal property tax base to provide the services citizens need and want.

Minister, municipalities such as Guelph are making important investments in upgrading public libraries—like the very building in which we met last week in Kitchener.

It’s time for the provincial government to support these essential community investments by ending the 20 year budget freeze on funding support for local libraries. I encourage your government to support the Ontario Library Association’s request for a funding increase for public and First Nations libraries from $33 million to $50 million for 2018 with subsequent increases in line with the Consumer Price Index.

Minister, every dollar invested in libraries generates over $6 in local economic impact benefiting the people of Ontario.

It’s time to end the 20 year budget freeze on funding for libraries.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

 

 

 

GPO Priorities for the Spring Budget

Dear Minister Sousa,

The Green Party of Ontario strongly encourages the government to pursue a balanced budget in a way that does not put the burden on the backs of people and their children and grandchildren.

Ontario is deeply undervaluing our precious natural resources — the non-renewable assets that belong to all of us. Big mining and extraction companies are benefiting, yet we are becoming poorer. This must stop. Raise the royalty rates to stop giving away our natural resources and increase government revenues before it’s too late.

As a follow up to my oral submission, the GPO recommends the following five priorities for the spring budget:

1. Provide immediate cash flow relief for local businesses and non-profits so they can better afford to pay a living wage.

As a long time small business owner and non-profit leader, I believe the best way for the province to do this is to lower their payroll taxes by increasing the exemption level for the Employer Health Tax to $1 million.

This will provide immediate monthly cash flow relief to help non-profits and small businesses, in a way that lowering their corporate income tax will not.

2. Stop giving away the province’s natural resources.

Ontario has some of the lowest effective resource royalty rates in Canada.

This natural wealth belongs to all Ontarians. Once it is mined, it is gone.

It is wealth that should be spent on improving public services and environmental protections.

As the Drummond Commission noted in 2012, Ontario’s royalty rates and fees are too low. They are so low in fact that they do not raise enough revenue to cover the province’s cost to administer resource management programs, which the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has noted are grossly underfunded.  

Whether it is minerals, aggregates or water, the province has a responsibility to manage resources responsibly and to ensure that all people share in Ontario’s resource wealth.  

3. Rethink the government’s cannabis monopoly.

The Green Party calls on the government to license and strictly regulate the private market so that local businesses, farmers, and indigenous communities can benefit from a safe, highly regulated market.

In a province of almost 13 million people, 40 government run retail outlets will do nothing to stop the unsafe, illegal underground market. The government’s rhetoric seems to be ramping up the criminalization of cannabis use when the goal of legalization is to end the costly criminalization, stigma and waste of resources from the war on pot.  

This does not have to be an either or proposition. If the government decides to move forward with its expensive government monopoly, the Green Party strongly encourages you to at the same time pilot regulated and licensed craft cannabis outlets.

The Green Party supports using cannabis revenue to fund mental health and addiction programs and to share revenue with municipalities.

4. Create a dedicated revenue stream for municipal infrastructure.

Municipalities can’t solve the infrastructure deficit with property taxes alone. Homeowners can’t carry that burden.

My community of Guelph, like towns and cities across Ontario, needs a targeted source of provincial funds to build sustainable and affordable neighbourhoods—to finance community infrastructure such as libraries, recreation centres, affordable housing, transit, brownfield remediation, etc.

5. Reconsider the so-called Fair Hydro Plan in order to provide support for those in need instead of disproportionate benefits for the most wealthy in Ontario.

The so-called Fair Hydro Plan is essentially a tax cut for the rich that will cost the people of Ontario between $40 and $90 billion.

The Green Party of Ontario strongly encourages the government to target electricity price relief to the most vulnerable in our communities instead of a across the board rate reduction that disproportionately benefits the wealthy.

Money saved from a more responsible and progressive electricity rate reduction program could be used to increase social assistance rates for those living in extreme poverty.

Conclusion

Minister, budgets are about choices, choices that reflect who we are and what we want our province to be. I strongly encourage you to make choices that put people first.

The Green Party believes in a budget that spends tax dollars wisely and responsibly, to support a fair, just and sustainable province.

In the spirit of cross-party collaboration that puts people first, I believe the five recommendations put forward by the Green Party will make Ontario a better place today, tomorrow and for the next seven generations.

I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

 

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner’s statement on the first anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque shooting

Today, we come together and remember those that we lost a year ago. We stand with our neighbours, members of our communities and fellow Canadians to say that love will overcome hate.

On the evening of January 29th 2017 in Ste. Foy (Foi) Quebec, 53 people gathered to pray, to come together, to catch up with each other. Something we all have done so often in Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Mosques.

This night was different. Terribly different.

A man, Alexandre Bissonnette, opened fire on worshippers and by the time this horror ended, 6 were dead and 19 others were injured, some for life. Of course, all the survivors will be scarred by this for life. We, by acknowledging that, might in some small way make that wound less painful. You are not alone.

It’s important that we remember that we as Canadians and Ontarians strive to make our country a place where we celebrate our diversity. A place where we make sure that every person is safe and welcome in our communities regardless of faith.

We wish you all Salaam. Peace.

GPO 2018 Convention: Tune in on Facebook Live

The 2018 GPO Convention is in 5 days! Are you excited?

For those of you who unfortunately cannot make it in person, catch some of our exciting events on Facebook Live:

  • Mike Schreiner, Leader Keynote: Saturday, 1.00PM
  • Peter Bevan Baker and Hannah Bell, Gala Keynote: Saturday, 8.30PM

Mike’s speech will be open to any members of the public who can attend. Location details can be found here.

We hope you can join us for both speeches, as we work towards bringing the Green wave to Ontario.

Livestream Details


Livestream: Mike Schreiner, Leader Keynote | Saturday, Feb 3, 1.00PM

Peter Bevan Baker and Hannah Bell, PEI Greens, Gala Keynote | Saturday, Feb 3, 8.30PM

Sexual harassment and violence have no place in our society

Stories from the #MeToo movement show us that the status quo fails to provide women with a safe way to share their experiences.  

We must act on this moment to transform our justice system to make space for women’s voices to be heard so that justice can be served.