Ford should reverse plan for government monopoly on cannabis

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QUEEN’S PARK — The extension of cannabis legalization gives Ontario time to fix its flawed plan for a government monopoly. The Green Party is calling on Premier-designate Doug Ford to implement a cannabis retail plan that will put an end to the unsafe underground market.

“The former government’s cannabis monopoly with 40 government run retail stores will do nothing to end the unsafe underground cannabis market,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner. “The new premier now has time to fix this by licensing and strictly regulating local dispensaries to also sell cannabis.”

The Prime Minister has granted provinces more time to get their house in order for the landmark shift to legal cannabis. The Green Party has long advocated for a model similar to the craft brewery industry, in which small businesses and dispensaries would be regulated to sell cannabis in a safe and controlled way. Doug Ford previously hinted that he would be open to allowing private sector sales, but has remained silent on the issue ever since.

The GPO supports sharing cannabis revenue with municipalities and dedicating all provincial revenue to supporting addiction programs.

“A few government run stores will not only lose money, it will continue to drive people to the unsafe underground market, hurting our economy and shutting out local businesses who want to operate safely and honestly,” said Schreiner. “A thriving underground market will also continue to make cannabis readily available to minors.”

“This is a chance for Doug Ford to change course. If he truly wants to create jobs for the people of Ontario, then he could take some time away from waging war on the cleantech sector and look at involving independent businesses in retail cannabis sales,” added Schreiner.

 

Schreiner: Ontario’s mental health crisis cannot be ignored

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GUELPH, ON — Today, Mike Schreiner announced plans to make mental health a pillar of Ontario’s healthcare system with an historic $4.1 billion investment, more than any other party this election.

“Over the last four decades, there have been 17 government reports on how to address mental health and addictions, and yet successive NDP, Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to follow through. The time to act is now,” said the Green Party leader.

Guelph has seen a 50% increase in the number of emergency room admissions for mental health and addictions issues. A 2016 study showed that 95% of patients in mental distress who were admitted to Guelph General Hospital’s emergency room on a Saturday were still there on the Monday. Across Ontario, 12,000 children are on a mental health waiting list.

“Mental health is health and it should be treated as such. Our $4.1 billion dollar pledge is a down payment on making mental health covered under OHIP+,” said Schreiner.

Greens are also calling for the creation of Mental Health and Addictions Ontario, an umbrella organization to streamline the provision of services, and they want to see more people accessing services at the primary care level rather than waiting in hospitals in crisis.

“As Guelph’s MPP, I will be a champion for community based mental health services. People must receive the care they need in an affordable, accessible and timely way,” said Schreiner.

And the Greens don’t look at mental health in isolation. Greens also promise to introduce a basic income guarantee and additional funding for supportive housing for people in need.

“We need to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. We cannot ignore the social determinants of health and the role they play in our poverty and mental health crises,” he added.

Don’t blame renewable energy; blame the Liberals

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QUEEN’S PARK — Today’s comments from Jim MacDougall, former lead engineer with the now defunct Ontario Power Authority and the person responsible for implementation of the FIT and Micro-FIT programs, confirm the Liberals totally bungled the Green Energy Act, putting corporate interests ahead of community benefits.

“I was the first politician to come out against how the Liberals were implementing renewable energy legislation because I could see that they were stacking the deck in favour of giant corporations. They created the conditions for people to vilify green energy and it’s incredibly unfortunate,” said Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner.

In their flawed roll-out of the Green Energy Act, the Liberals gave nearly all contracts to multinational corporations without consulting with local communities or exploring ways to benefit them. This was yet another example of the Liberals taking a good idea and completely messing it up. Had the province looked to lessons from other countries, they would have seen a smarter and more democratic path to community power.

“If the Liberals had followed best practices from jurisdictions like Denmark, which requires 20% local ownership, or Germany, where almost half of the renewable energy projects are owned by citizens, they could have created jobs, local economic development and community support for renewables,” said Schreiner.

“Instead, they pushed through a plan to line the pockets of giant companies and sowed the seeds of resentment towards clean energy. This has given rise to uninformed politicians like Doug Ford, promising to rip out wind turbines. People should not blame the technology. They should blame the Liberals,” added Schreiner.

Schreiner: Seize the $6 trillion global clean jobs opportunity

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KITCHENER, ON — Today in Canada’s tech hub, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner announced his plan to leap into the future by embracing jobs in clean innovation, advanced manufacturing, and low-carbon goods that the other parties are ignoring.

“I’m deeply concerned just how little talk there has been from the status quo parties about how to replace the 300,000 lost manufacturing jobs across southwestern Ontario. We need to skate to where the puck is going and not where it’s been, and Greens will support this region to be a world leader in cleantech innovation,” said Schreiner.

Already in Canada, 274,000 people work in the clean energy sector. In Ontario alone, there are already 5,000 cleantech companies employing 130,000 people and contributing $19.8 billion to Ontario’s economy. And yet none of the other parties are talking about what will drive future prosperity to fund good public services in this province.

“If you listen to Ford, he is denying the clean economy even exists or that we need to innovate to tackle climate change. One hundred years ago, it would be like supporting the horse-and-buggy industry over the auto sector. And we’re hearing nothing from the NDP about the environment or the economy because they are so loyal to old industries,” said Schreiner.

Greens would redirect the $3.1 billion in business support programs that currently have no criteria towards clean economy jobs, helping companies to lead and scale up. And a new $4.1 billion green building initiative would provide grants and interest free loans for homeowners, renters and businesses to save money by saving energy.

“For every dollar invested in the clean economy you can create seven times more jobs than the same dollar invested in the old economy. If you want good jobs, then vote for the party that is supporting the jobs that will be the engines of prosperity for our communities,” said Schreiner.

 

Greens would get people moving with $2.18 billion for cycling and walking

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GUELPH, ON — On Bike To Work Day in Guelph, Mike Schreiner announced the Green plan to make a real investment in safe streets for active transportation by dedicating 5% of the transportation budget to cycling and walking infrastructure, a total of $2.18 billion over four years.

“I think Ontarians would be surprised to learn that 0% of our transportation budget goes towards people-powered ways of getting around. If our goal is to make it easier for people to choose healthier, lower carbon options for their commutes, we need to dedicate permanent, long-term funding for this,” said the Green Party Leader. Schreiner, a regular cyclist, joined a group biking from Franchetto Park to City Hall today as part of Bike to Work Day in Guelph.

More and more people are choosing to walk or cycle. The problem is that infrastructure was built around the car culture to the exclusion of other options. The Green plan will provide municipalities with infrastructure funds to make streets safer for all users, including wheeled mobility devices and other accessibility needs.

Greens will also require all new and resurfaced highways to have paved shoulders for safe cycling and establish commuter cycling networks across Ontario. We would also look at improvements to GO stations to provide more convenient pedestrian access and cycling facilities.

“We need a transportation strategy focused on moving people, not just cars and trains. I talk to so many people who want to bike to work, but are concerned about safety. If we can start fixing this, we’ll have a healthier population, connected communities, more affordable transportation options, and cleaner air,” said Schreiner.

Photo: Mike Schreiner, with the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation on Bike to Work Day, May 28 2018

Mike Schreiner on The Agenda

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Last night, Mike Schreiner appeared on The Agenda with Steve Paikin to talk about what this election means to him, why it’s so significant to have a Green voice at Queen’s Park, and the Green Party’s platform for the upcoming election.

Some highlights:

“Elected Greens around the world and in Canada are showing that you can do politics differently. I feel like I can work and collaborate with parties, while the three establishment parties’ politics as usual is “let’s bash each other and tear each other down.” I’m more interested in building Ontario up. If that means working with other parties, we will do that.”

I know you are fighting for a seat in Guelph. Given the low expectations for the Party, why do it at all?

I got into politics because I thought the three establishment parties were failing us on three major issues. One is the climate crisis. Two is rising levels of inequality Three is just the toxic way in which politics is done in Ontario. I want to change all three. Elected Greens across Canada are doing that, and that’s the people powered change that I want to bring to Queen’s Park.

Make the case for why, in a Parliament with 124 members, why would one Green make a difference?

I’ve already made a difference. I led the charge to get big money out of politics in 2016. I worked with the Premier in helping write the Legislation to ban corporate and union donations to political parties, lower donation limits, and then worked with the two opposition leaders to get that done. That’s what doing politics differently is about.

When people see elected Greens in action, they then vote for more Greens because they like what they are seeing. That’s why PEI has doubled their caucus, that’s why BC has tripled their caucus, and now Andrew Weaver is showing that you can hold what he calls the “balance of responsibility” in a minority government.  In this case, the BC Greens hold them to their principles.  That’s the role I can play in a minority government in Ontario as well.

The  response has generally been positive for Mike’s appearance on The Agenda, see comments from Twitter below:

Following Mike Schreiner’s interview with Steve Paikin, a panel of energy and economics experts analyzed the Green Party of Ontario’s platform. Here are some excerpts from their discussion.

On the potential impact of Greens at Queen’s Park

“The history of small parties is a history of big ideas. The Green surge in 2007 sent a strong message to the governing Liberals that there was a real constituency for green ideas,” Toby A.A. Heaps, Corporate Knights Magazine

On replacing nuclear with water power from Quebec

“The opportunity to import from other provinces is absolutely a practical way of replacing the 10,000 MW from nuclear power,” Celine Bak, Analytica Advisors

“Some provinces are able to produce electricity better than others. We should think less about sovereignty and self-sufficiency and think more about generating electricity from the least cost producers,” Trevor Tombe, Department of Economics, University of Calgary

On the clean economy

“We should be confident in the opportunities described by the Green Party’s plan for the clean economy and jobs,” Celine Bak, Analytica Advisors

On a fully costed platform

“The Greens are the only party to put forward their ideas with full costing of how they’re going to pay for them. If you’re fiscally responsible, there’s only one choice this election,” Toby A.A. Heaps, Corporate Knights Magazine.

Infiltrate the Debate

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Despite our best efforts, the unelected and unaccountable media consortium has continued with their decision to exclude the Greens from the televised Leaders Debates.

Even though we are silenced, we must stay strong. We will keep pushing to get our Green voices heard, in all the ways we can.

On Sunday, Mike Schreiner will ‘infiltrate the debate’ by hosting a viewing party and doing a live commentary of the televised Leaders Debate in his home riding of Guelph. Join us:

Infiltrate the Debate Event

When: Sunday, May 27, Doors open: 5:45pm, Debate begins: 6:30

Where: C.I.G. School of The Performing Arts, 930 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph

RSVP HERE.

The event will be also livestreamed, so we hope you can all tune in to hear the real solutions Greens want to provide to the province.

When: Sunday, May 27, 6.30-8.00PM

Where: See below or on Facebook Live

Green Leader Mike Schreiner poised to make history

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GUELPH, ON — The latest Mainstreet Research polls released show Mike Schreiner in first place in Guelph, currently sitting at 31% of the vote*. On Thursday, the CEO of Mainstreet Research predicted that Schreiner would become the first elected Green MPP on June 7 by winning the seat in Guelph.

“We’re feeling it on the ground. People in Guelph want someone who will be a champion of local issues. They’re tired of status-quo politics and they’re ready for an honest collaborator who will work for the people of Guelph and be a powerful voice for change at Queen’s Park,” said Mike Schreiner.

The poll results are available to subscribers here: https://www.mainstreetresearch.ca/ontario-daily-tracker/ontario-2018-daily-tracker-home

*This poll was produced by Mainstreet Research as part of its public opinion research for the 2018 Ontario Election. The poll details can be found on the Mainstreet Ontario Daily Tracker.

It’s time to make it a Blue and Greenbelt

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GUELPH, ON — With federal Green leader Elizabeth May by his side, Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner announced his plan for a 1.5 million acre expansion of the Greenbelt to include major river systems and source water regions in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

“When news about Ford’s backroom deal broke, the Liberals announced a hurried plan to expand the Greenbelt, but their plan excluded the critical areas being called for by 120 community groups, such as sensitive watersheds in Wellington and Brant counties, as well as the Grand River.” said Schreiner, speaking at the confluence of the Speed and Eramosa rivers with May. “We would ensure the whole Bluebelt is protected.”

The food and farming sector in the Greater Golden Horseshoe contributes $12.3 billion to our economy and 7,100 of those farms are found in the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt also cleans our air, storing 86.6 million tonnes of carbon in the fight against climate change. And more than 90% of Ontarians polled in 2015 were in favour of growing the Greenbelt to protect water supplies, sensitive natural environments, and farmland.

“Without the right protection, our source water regions are being degraded day-by-day. Greens are the only party that understands our economy depends on clean air, safe drinking water, and food-growing farmland,” said Schreiner.

While the governing Liberals have been giving our water away to multinational companies and throwing pennies at water management, the two leading parties have been either negligent or silent on protecting our water.

“For the NDP, the environment is a complete afterthought – buried in a few paragraphs of their 98-page platform. And the last PC government under Harris gutted environment jobs, leading to the deaths in Walkerton during the e-coli crisis. When Doug Ford talks about ‘efficiencies’, we know it means slashing protections and putting public health at risk,” said Schreiner.

The Green Party’s plan for getting the basics right on air, water and land includes:

  • Expanding the Greenbelt to include the 1.5 million acre Bluebelt
  • Banning fracking to reverse the 2017 Liberal amendment to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act
  • Investing $200 million to reward farmers to protect water and store carbon
  • Setting aside a minimum of 17% of land as protected areas in line with international targets
  • Establishing public drinking water as the top priority in all water taking decisions
  • Raising water taking fees to recover costs for sustainable water management

#MikeAtTheMic trends on Twitter across Canada today

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TORONTO, ON — A Twitterstorm erupted this afternoon, with the campaign to get Mike Schreiner a spot at the televised provincial leaders debate on Sunday one of the most tweeted topics of the day. The #MikeAtTheMic hashtag was trending at #1 in Toronto and was also a top trender across Canada.

“It’s overwhelming to see this much support for fair debates featuring all four publicly funded parties. The Ontario Broadcasters Group might try to silence us on Sunday, but thousands of Ontarians spoke out against their censorship today,” said Schreiner.

By 3:15pm, there had been 3,747 tweets reaching close to 260,000 people and viewed over 872,000 times. The explosion of activity prompted a response from a representative of the media consortium, Mackay Taggart of Global, who tweeted:

Mike Schreiner had this to say in reaction:

“Mr. Taggart’s response illustrates exactly why unelected, unaccountable TV executives should not be determining something so fundamental to our democracy. The Ontario Broadcasters Group has still yet to explain why they decided to use different rules than those set by Elections Ontario for public funding of political parties. The net result is a censorship of the Greens and a failure to the people of Ontario.”

A selection of the popular tweets can be read below.