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Green Party takes on unaccountable TV executives and launches #MikeAtTheMic campaign

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QUEEN’S PARK — Momentum is growing to get Mike Schreiner a seat at the televised leaders’ debate. Today the Green Party of Ontario launches an online petition to increase pressure on the Ontario media consortium to include all four publicly funded parties, as recognized by Elections Ontario.

Ontarians can visit www.MikeAtTheMic.ca to add their name to the chorus of people demanding to hear from the Greens alongside the other three parties who qualify for per-vote funding from Elections Ontario.

“Why should something so fundamental to our democracy be left to a handful of media executives with no transparency or accountability to the people of Ontario?” said Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario.

We need more choice, not less choice, in an election that is undoubtedly about change. The decision by the Ontario Broadcasters Group flies in the face of Elections Ontario rules, but also the broad support Greens have across the province and country. A recent FairDebates.ca petition has already gathered over ten thousand signatures that crosses all party lines.

“When Greens were rightly invited to the provincial debates in British Columbia, PEI and New Brunswick, they won seats in all those elections. Shutting us out in Ontario does nothing but reinforce status-quo politics and deny voters a chance to hear fresh ideas,” added Schreiner.

Since last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne and numerous media commentators and hosts have been lining up to voice their support for getting #MikeAtTheMic.

“There is no legitimate reason why the networks are doing this. I implore the networks to rethink this whole thing, including our parent company,” said Bill Kelly of CHML 900, owned by Global.

“With the Federal Greens earning their seat at the leaders’ debate, why are we not including the Ontario Greens at the provincial debate?” said Mike Farwell of 570 News in Kitchener.

“Sign up [and] join the campaign to get the Greens, at least a voice and a seat at the table,” said Rick Gibbons of 1310 News in Ottawa.

“By any reasonable measure, the Greens are the fourth party in this province. That sets them apart from fringe parties like the Trillium Party, the Communist Party and the None of the Above party,” read the editorial in yesterday’s Hamilton Spectator.

Visit www.MikeAtTheMic.ca to help end the monopoly on power in the televised debates. The petition will be sent to the TV executives in each network of the Ontario Broadcasters Group.

New Democrats absent without leave on environment and climate

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TORONTO, ON – The uninspiring platform released today by the Ontario NDP confirms that protecting the environment is not on the radar of the province’s third party.

“This platform confirms that the New Democrats cannot be trusted on climate action,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner. “Nor does the platform provide a bold vision for how Ontario can leap into the future now to be a leader in cleantech innovation, advanced manufacturing or energy efficiency.”

The platform makes no mention of climate change or the environment in its five changes for the better and buries the few actions it would take in one of thirteen platform sub-categories.

The New Democrats are not shy about emptying the vault for important social issues, but the party is content to starve environmental programs. Absent are any targets for reducing greenhouse gases or increasing renewable energy. The section on jobs makes no mention of seizing opportunities in the low-carbon economy for advanced manufacturing, cleantech, green retrofits and renewable energy. And when it comes to issues like sustainable public transportation, there is nothing bold or visionary.

“Instead of leaping into the future with jobs that put people and the planet first, the NDP platform desperately holds onto an old economic vision that no longer works in the twenty-first century,” said Schreiner.

We need voices at Queen’s Park to take strong positions on the environmental challenges we face. We need MPPs who will stand up to the nuclear lobby, call out Premier Wynne’s free pollution permits to the large companies, and offer a hopeful vision for a clean economy.

“The ideas coming from the NDP barely move the needle, let alone tackle the climate crisis. Tinkering on the margins is just not going to cut it,” added Schreiner.

Green Party stands up for protecting water in Simcoe County

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TINY TOWNSHIP, ON — GPO leader Mike Schreiner visited the site of a controversial quarry project in Tiny Township today. Indigenous and community groups are fighting the renewal application from Dufferin Aggregates that would give them a 10-year extension of their license at the Teedon Pit. ​

“The Ontario government is failing to protect our water. This is unacceptable. I am honoured to be standing alongside water protectors like the Anishinabe Kwewag and Friends of the Waverly Uplands. We must defend our most precious natural resource,” said Schreiner.

Scientists who have tested the water have found it to be some of cleanest ever documented in the world. Local groups have organized before to protect it, mounting successful community opposition in 2011 to stop a controversial landfill proposal known as Dumpsite 41 that threatened the aquifer. Supporting community efforts to stop Dumpsite 41 was one of Schreiner’s first efforts as GPO leader.

“Greens are not against resource development, but it must be safe and responsible. When it threatens our water resources, that’s where we draw the line,” said Valerie Powell, Green Party candidate for Simcoe North.

Greens have successfully spoken out against proposals such as the Melancthon mega quarry in the past. Ontario has some of the weakest rules protecting farmland and water from aggregate extraction.

“We have a responsibility to manage water for future generations, but the current government’s priorities are backwards. When it comes to choosing between industry and people, the Liberals prioritize big industry,” said Schreiner.​

Indigenous leaders and community groups will be gathering tomorrow at the Teedon Pit to raise awareness about their fight. Support water protection in Waverly Uplands by signing the petition: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-the-environment-and-climate-change-protect-the-aquifer-that-holds-the-cleanest-water-in-the-world

Unaccountable media group excludes Greens from televised leaders debate

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QUEEN’S PARK — The unelected, unaccountable Ontario Broadcasters Group has today shut the Green Party of Ontario out of the televised Leaders debate, set for May 27. The move comes on the heels of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s endorsement earlier in the day for Mike Schreiner to be included.

“This is a slap in the face to the people of Ontario and the democratic process,” said Schreiner. “The media group behind the televised debate should be following the same threshold that Elections Ontario uses for per vote funding. It’s time to fix these undemocratic rules for deciding who’s in and who’s out.”

The Green Party is one of four parties to qualify for provincial per-vote funding, based on the Party’s popular vote in the last election.

The media consortium behind the decision is a group of TV managers from CBC, CHCH, CPAC, CTV, Global News, and TVO. They are not accountable to the citizens of Ontario and in this case have used an arbitrary set of criteria, announced only today, to exclude the Green Party of Ontario.

A petition created by the nonpartisan group Fairdebates.ca has collected nearly 10,000 signatures to date. The Green Party is calling on citizens of all political stripes to join the growing chorus of people pressuring the media group to hold a fair and democratic debate.

“The formula for leaders debates should not be one that reinforces status-quo politics. To keep me out of the debate is to censor the solutions that our party deserves to share with Ontarians, and that Ontarians have a right to hear,” added Schreiner.

“I am urging my fellow party leaders Andrea Horwath and Doug Ford to step up and demand that I be included in the televised debate. Four parties are publicly funded in Ontario and four parties deserve to share the stage on May 27th,” said Schreiner.

If you agree that Mike Schreiner and the Greens should have a seat at the debate, sign the petition at www.fairdebates.ca.

Premier encourages participation of Green Party leader Mike Schreiner in debates

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(Image from FairDebates.ca)

QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner is calling on his political counterparts to stand up for democracy and do the right thing by allowing the Green Party to participate in the televised Leaders debates in the spring election.

“I want to thank Premier Wynne for agreeing that citizens deserve to hear from all four major party leaders in the debates,” said Schreiner, who leads the Green Party of Ontario. “I challenge Ms. Horwath and Mr. Ford to stand up for democracy and support fair debates.”

The Green Party meets Elections Ontario’s requirements for per-vote funding, like the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.

Yet the arbitrary rules for determining who’s in and who’s out of the televised debates are threatening to lock the Greens out once again. An undefined media consortium, likely in consultation with the status quo parties at Queen’s Park, makes the decision in an undemocratic process behind closed doors.

“How is it that Ontarians provide funding to four parties, but only get to hear from three of them? I look forward to the opportunity to share our ideas and be held accountable by voters before election day,” added Schreiner.

Along with Premier Wynne, almost 10,000 people have signed a nonpartisan petition organized by FairDebates.ca calling for a fair and simple rule: that the leader of any political party that receives annual taxpayer funding should be included in the televised debates.

“It’s interesting that you have one party leader who is turning down debate invitations and ducking the media, and on the other hand, myself, who is being shut out of the televised debates despite the fact that we receive public funds, run candidates in all ridings, and received almost 5% of the provincial vote in 2014,” said Schreiner.

“All four of us need to be there. I’m ready and I am pleased to have Premier Wynne’s support. Now I’m asking the two leaders of the opposition for their support for democratic principles and fair debates.”

Schreiner: Greens would end carding, increase funding for mental health, help small businesses to thrive

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TORONTO, ON — Mike Schreiner was one of three party leaders to participate in the Black Community Provincial Leaders’ Debate Wednesday night, hosted by Operation Black Vote Canada and other groups at the Jamaican Canadian Association. During the passionate two-hour debate, the leader of the Green Party of Ontario outlined steps his party would take to address systemic racism in the province and remove barriers facing black communities.

On justice reform, Schreiner was unequivocal that the Green Party would put an immediate end to carding and destroy all of the data that has been unjustly collected through the discriminatory practice. He talked about other changes for accelerating the cultural shift in our justice system.

“Our police services should have mandatory training on anti-racism and de-escalation. We need more diverse hiring in our police force. We need changes to the way juries are selected to ensure better representation,” said Schreiner to cheers of support from the audience.

As the debate moved to health care, Schreiner was the only party leader to acknowledge that what we have is a ‘sick-care system’ that ignores the deeper causes of illness. Schreiner pointed to British Columbia, which spends three times more on preventing illness than Ontario, and sought agreement from the other leaders that our mindset needs a radical reset.

“We need to start looking at the social determinants of health, such as poverty. We need to take a more preventative view of healthcare, instead of just treating illness,” said Schreiner to loud applause.

As the debate turned to education, Schreiner called it unacceptable that 12,000 children are currently awaiting access to mental health services and said that we need to end streaming once and for all in schools so that black children are given every chance to succeed. The Green Party leader also talked about ways to reduce duplication in our school system so that more resources are directed to support all students, teachers and support staff.

Schreiner was the only party leader to put forward real ideas for economic development in Black communities. He cited examples in the US of community energy projects that have created jobs in the renewables sector and brought prosperity to black-owned businesses. He also suggested a small business fund to support local shops who are struggling with the impacts of transit construction, such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project.

On the issue of cannabis, Schreiner lamented the economic potential the Liberals have denied to small businesses. “40 government outlets are not enough. We should be allowing private dispensaries to sell cannabis legally and safely and make this a local economic development opportunity,” said the Green Party of Ontario leader.

In his closing remarks, Schreiner invited those in the audience to visit www.gpo.ca/vision to learn more about the ways the Green Party is doing politics differently.

If you missed last night’s debate, catch the full livestream here.

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