Why is Doug Ford afraid of fair debates?

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QUEEN’S PARK — PC leader Doug Ford is the only major party leader to go silent on fair and inclusive debates.

Premier Wynne and Andrea Horwath are in. Over 20,000 Ontarians have signed petitions at fairdebates.ca and MikeAtTheMic.ca to advocate for Mike Schreiner’s participation in televised debates. A Toronto Star online poll showed that 82% of respondents agreed there should be a Green seat at the debate table.

“I challenge Mr. Ford to support fair debates. While the Premier and the NDP leader have welcomed Greens into the televised debates, Doug Ford goes silent. What exactly is he afraid of?” asked Green Party of Ontario leader, Mike Schreiner.

Ford is masquerading as a man of the people. In truth he is doing everything he can to stay away from them, with staged events and a media-free campaign bus. The leaked video where Ford tells developers behind closed doors that he would open the Greenbelt for development raises serious questions about whether he will put people before well-connected insiders.

“If this is how he campaigns, this is how he wants to govern. We can’t let that happen.” added Schreiner. “We’re better than this, and we deserve better from those who want our vote. The Green Party believes in doing politics differently. We’re ready to take on all three parties on the issues that matter the most to Ontario. Ask anything you want. I’m ready,” said Schreiner.

Robert Kiley named as Green Party Deputy Leader

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Kingston, ON – With the momentum building towards the June 7th election a dynamic new voice steps into the role of Green Party Deputy Leader.

The announcement was made following a vote by the party executive.

We are excited to have Robert join our leadership team. He is a strong voice for Kingston and Ontario, with an excellent track record of community involvement and a passion for our shared Green vision for this great province,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner. “In the last provincial election, he more than doubled the Green vote in Kingston and the Islands and has built a strong team and support for his candidacy in this election. He’s committed to doing politics honestly and leading change.”

Robert Kiley was born and raised in Kingston and received his teaching and master’s in public administration degrees from Queen’s University. Until 2015, he taught English, history and outdoor education in Ontario and Quebec. He is also the former executive director of the Council on Aging. Today, Robert works in marketing, focusing on helping small businesses grow. His commitment to building community has been demonstrated through his service with a variety of community boards. 

“I am deeply honoured to be entrusted with this role and to be able to bring a Kingston perspective to provincial issues in my new role as deputy leader,” Kiley said. “If the great people of Kingston and the Islands elect me as their MPP, Kingston’s voice at Queen’s Park will be heard and I will always put the needs of Kingston first.”

Kiley is running for MPP in Kingston and the Islands on a platform of economic, environmental, social and democratic justice. Robert supports and speaks out on the need for a basic income guarantee, lowering small business payroll taxes, universal dental and pharmacare programs, investments in the green economy and a transition from expensive nuclear power to renewable energy, and electoral reform.

“Robert is a great campaigner, an excellent candidate and the right choice for those who want to do politics differently. I’ve seen first hand what a strong advocate he is for the issues that matter. As deputy leader he brings great energy, passion and a tireless work ethic to the race,” said Schreiner.

Kiley’s community work gives him a deep understanding of what matters to the people of Kingston and The Islands.  Robert has championed the adoption of key policies in the Green Party of Ontario including a living wage, improved services for transgender Ontarians and their families, importing cleaner, cheaper hydro energy from Quebec, and electrifying transit.

Schreiner: Expand the Greenbelt and protect our water

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QUEEN’S PARK — The Green Party of Ontario is calling for an expansion of the Greenbelt to protect the major river systems of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, known as the Bluebelt, including the Grand River watershed and Simcoe Country river systems left out of the government’s study area.

The Bluebelt is an essential source of drinking water for over 9 million Ontarians who live in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

“Government has a responsibility to protect our most vital resource. The three status quo parties need to be clear on whether or not they support Bluebelt expansion to protect our drinking water,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

And it’s not just about drinking water. The food and farm sector in the Greater Golden Horseshoe alone contributes $12.3 billion and 212,000 jobs to our economy. Yet, we are losing an average of 350 acres of farmland every day, the size of the city of Toronto every year.

The Conservatives have been playing wedge politics, suggesting to Ontarians that they must choose between the Greenbelt and an affordable home. The Liberals meanwhile have cast themselves as defenders of the Greenbelt with a hastily announced expansion plan that includes no details – this after a public consultation process and no mention of the Greenbelt in their budget.

“Our water and farmland are more vulnerable than ever to status quo politicians whose wealthy lobbyists dictate their platform priorities. The Conservatives are untrustworthy and the Liberals are opportunistic. We deserve better,” said Schreiner.

The Green Party has pressured the Liberals for years to fix our broken water taking rules that allow quarries to dig below the water table and companies like Nestle to take 3.6 million litres of water per day on expired permits. While the Liberals conduct study after study into Greenbelt expansion, urban sprawl and threats to farmland and water grow.

“Floods will only get worse if Queen’s Park continues to drag its feet,” said Schreiner. “Paving over river systems and prime farmland is the most reckless thing we can do in the face of climate change. It’s long past time for the Bluebelt to be protected.”

Liberals: Spend Now, Pay Later

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Statement from Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, on Spring 2018 Economic and Budget Outlook from the FAO.

“The Liberals are maxing out our children’s credit cards with their reckless approach to spending.

Their UnFair Hydro Plan to artificially lower hydro rates benefits those who can afford to use lots of power the most, and it will cost billions in the long run.

We need clean and affordable public transit and essential social programs like pharmacare and dental care. But we need to be honest about how we are going to pay for them. Magic money and fairy dust are not going to do the trick, nor is passing the check to future generations.

Greens are not afraid to raise resource royalty rates, increase taxes on big corporations, and impose congestion charges to pay for the services we need.  These are real solutions, and they are more responsible than funding our programs on the backs of our children. But the Liberals won’t ask their corporate donors and industry lobbyists to pay more because they’d rather have younger Ontarians foot the bill.

The Liberals are upfront about spending money, but shady about paying for it.”

Suspect timing of Greenbelt expansion plan

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Statement from Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, on the Liberals’ announcement they would expand the Greenbelt.

“The timing of this Greenbelt expansion plan is suspect, and it smells of another opportunistic power-buying ploy from the Liberals. This is yet another example of cynical politics.

If protecting prime farmland, sensitive wetlands and wildlife habitat was truly a priority, then Kathleen Wynne would not be announcing this on the heels of Doug Ford’s leaked video.

She would not be giving the go ahead to the Midhurst Mega development that threatens farmland and water in Simcoe County. She would sign the Food and Water First Pledge to protect prime farmland and source water regions in Ontario.

Greens will continue to fight to protect the people and places we love in Ontario.

Unlike the Conservatives, we will say this privately and publicly, to farmers, developers and environmentalists.

And unlike the Liberals, we will proudly stand by this position at all times, not just when it’s politically convenient.

“The Green Party supports a freeze of urban boundaries now to stop urban sprawl. We will restrict infrastructure development in the Greenbelt, including highways, quarries and pipelines that are chipping away at its integrity.

We would also expand the Greenbelt to include a Bluebelt of vulnerable and ecologically significant water sources that need protection now.”

International Workers’ Day

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In recognition of International Workers’ Day, Green Party of Leader, Mike Schreiner, issued the following statement:

“For over a century we have been marking the accomplishments of organized workers on International Workers’ Day, or May Day. The labour movement is without a doubt one of the most important social justice movements in modern society.

We have the labour to thank for many of the basic rights enshrined into law including the right to organize and negotiate for fair, safe and decent working conditions, the 2 day weekend and minimum wages.

Our economy is rapidly changing, and so to are the places where people work and the makeup of our workforce. The Green Party of Ontario recognizes the important role that unions will continue to play in strengthening our communities and our economy. We recognize the need to work together so that the rights of all workers are protected.

The Green Party of Ontario has a bold vision for building a new workforce in cleantech, advanced manufacturing, green retrofits and renewable energy sectors. We must leap into the future now to embrace 21st century jobs, and we know that it must be underpinned by strong and organized voices from the workers of today and tomorrow.”

Doug Ford promises Greenbelt firesale

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QUEEN’S PARK — Today’s revelation that Doug Ford is planning to open up the globally recognized Greenbelt is wrong-headed. This is not the answer to affordable housing, but this move does show Ontarians that the PC leader will put his wealthy friends and donors before the people of Ontario.

“Doug Ford’s plan to pave over the Greenbelt puts his wealthy developer friends and donors before the people of Ontario,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner. “His comments make no sense, and Ford is clearly a threat to Ontario’s drinking water and farmland.”

The PC leader is mistaken in assuming we need to open up our environmentally sensitive areas. The Greenbelt is not driving up housing prices. Only 20% of already available lands for development have been used.

Ford’s reckless plan to destroy farmland and greenspace shows a gross misunderstanding of the immense environmental and economic value of the Greenbelt for growing food, ensuring clean water and providing habitat for wildlife – ecological services that amount to an estimated $2.6 billion per year, according to a recent study.

“Ford’s plan for Ontario is clearly designed to benefit big corporations and giant lobby groups who meet with him in the back rooms – the very people who will profit the most from paving over the places we love,” said Schreiner.

Ford has avoided media questions since taking leadership, but what he says when he doesn’t know the camera is rolling is disturbing. In the leaked video, Ford gives credit to “some of the biggest developers in the country” for coming up with the idea to pave over the Greenbelt.

“The Green Party will fight to protect the people and places we love. We will fight for a real affordable housing plan that puts people first by requiring new developments to have 20 percent affordable homes,” said Schreiner.

Learn more at www.gpo.ca/vision.

Statement on National Day of Mourning

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In recognition of National Day of Mourning, Green Party of Leader, Mike Schreiner, issued the following statement:

“Every day, millions of Ontarians head off to work, doing their part to keep our economy and our communities running. Today, we come together to remember workers who have lost their lives or been injured on the job.

It is easy to take for granted the advancements that have been made in workplace safety over the decades and to overlook the many individuals who have lost their lives in the process.

But still every year, too many people are injured, and even killed on the job, leaving their families, friends, and co-workers to wonder what could have been done to save their lives.

Workplaces are rapidly changing, presenting new challenges and new risks to workers and their safety.

We need to do more to ensure our workplaces are safe, including all types of work whether full time, part time or temporary. We have a responsibility to enact and enforce legislation to make our workplaces safe.

Every single Ontarian, no matter their occupation, deserves to return home safe at the end of the day.”

Auditor General continues to out Liberals on expensive hydro shell game

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QUEEN’S PARK — It’s no surprise that today’s statement from the Auditor-General is another sharp rebuke of the Liberals’ capacity for honesty.

We learned today that the Liberal friendly accounting used to come up with the (Un)Fair Hydro Plan helped balloon the deficit by an astonishing $5 billion dollars. The news brings up a story that Kathleen Wynne would like to keep buried: that her government is using shell games to lower hydro rates in her power-buying scheme for the upcoming election.

“The Auditor-General’s statement confirms what the Greens have long been saying – that the temporary reduction of electricity bills is nothing but a cover-up of the hydro mess this government has made. This is a costly $45 billion dollar band-aid that won’t fix the problem. What this will do is cost us more in the long run,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

According to previous reports from the Financial Accountability Officer, the costs of the Liberal hydro band-aid could escalate to anywhere between $63 and $93 billion in the future, amounting to a staggering $19,000 per household. Under the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP, governing in Ontario has been reduced to magic math and fairy tale hydro schemes.

 “The Liberals think they can trick people with false spending numbers and short-term discounts,” added Schreiner. “We face hard choices to get out of this hydro mess. Greens do not shy away from tough conversations. We would implement real solutions to fix our electricity system like transitioning from incredibly expensive nuclear to buying clean water power at one-third the price.”

“The Green Party of Ontario would target rate reductions for the people who need it most; say no to OPG’s demand for a 180% price increase to pay for outdated and overpriced nuclear power; and focus on reducing demand through energy efficiency and conservation measures,” said Schreiner.

These are common-sense solutions to build a clean and affordable electricity system, and only the Green Party is talking about them.

Learn more at www.gpo.ca/vision.

It’s time to cut the red tape for people living in poverty

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QUEEN’S PARK — What have the Liberals done for the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians living below the poverty line? This is the question people should really be asking while the government already celebrates a win at the end of the first year of its Basic Income pilot.

“Kathleen Wynne is hiding behind the Basic Income pilot because she doesn’t want to talk about her inaction on poverty. Social assistance rates have not recovered since the Mike Harris cuts, and the Liberals continue to delay action,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

People are barely scraping by in Ontario and recent reports show that things are getting worse. While the rich get richer, poor Ontario families are getting poorer. Toronto remains the child poverty capital of Canada.

“This government is notorious for taking small steps while the big picture gets worse. They prefer pilots over real solutions that will help people get ahead,” said Schreiner.

“The Liberals could have meaningfully raised social assistance levels in their budget to help people now. They opted for a drop-in-the-bucket increase. They could have introduced game-changing housing rules to ensure affordable units are set aside. Instead they sided with developers. They could have started a plan to roll out a Basic Income Guarantee for all Ontarians. They have not,” added Schreiner

The Green Party’s vision for economic fairness includes a Basic Income Guarantee for all. This would transform how poverty is tackled in the province, cutting red tape for the poor and helping people during the transitions in their lives. To address immediate needs in the meantime, we would immediately increase Ontario Disability Support Payment and Ontario Works payments toward rates that match the low income measure.

This is what doing politics differently looks like.