Greens would get people moving with immediate transit options in southwestern Ontario

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GUELPH, ON — Today in his home riding of Guelph, Mike Schreiner announced the Green Party of Ontario’s commitment to improving public transportation in southwestern Ontario to better connect people to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

“Gridlock in the GTA is paralyzing – hurting our economy with lost productivity and taking us away from families and communities. In Guelph and in the wider region, people want to use sustainable public transit, but we must have efficient and reliable service that is a viable alternative to driving a car,” said Leader, Mike Schreiner.

Schreiner wants to see all day, two-­way GO service to Guelph and Kitchener as quickly as possible, but stopping there is not enough.

“There is no reason why we cannot have decent services right now with express bus service between cities like Hamilton, Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo. These services – shockingly – don’t exist. It’s a matter of political will,” said Schreiner.

“Greens would speak for commuters and demand the investments necessary to truly allow us to move freely on public transit. We have the capacity and the infrastructure, and now it’s time to step up to the plate,” he added.

The region is home to over 2.5 million Ontarians, and yet the three status quo parties have not made intercity travel a priority, leaving people with long journey times and infrequent service delivery if they want or need to use transit.

“How is it that in 2018 you can still only travel directly from Guelph to Toronto in the early morning hours, while if you want to get to Kitchener, you’re left taking a two-hour bus ride for a journey that would take 30 minutes in a car?” said Schreiner.

Greens are also committed to reducing greenhouse emissions from transportation, the largest contributor to Ontario’s carbon pollution from any sector.

“We will work to rapidly bring our transportation system towards carbon neutrality, electrifying GO train services as quickly as possible and introducing electric and hybrid buses where feasible. Our transportation infrastructure needs to serve people and the climate,” said Schreiner.

Schreiner: Liberals should say no to Hydro One’s proposed merger with Avista

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In response to news that Hydro One’s acquisition of Avista passed another hurdle, Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, said the following:

“The Ontario government must use its position as the largest shareholder in Hydro One to say no to its proposed merger with Avista Corporation.

Ontarians breathed a sigh of relief when we got off of coal in 2014. It was a moment to be proud of in the fight against climate change. But now Hydro One is getting back into the coal game, acquiring a US company with a major stake in one of the country’s largest coal-fired generating plants. How can the Liberals claim to be climate leaders when they’re happy to get into bed with big polluters south of the border?

The disastrous privatization of an important public asset has given rise to a multinational corporation whose bottom line is making profits for private shareholders, whether this means higher bills for the people of Ontario or pumping more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere. By selling ownership in Hydro One, Ontario can no longer keep our hands clean from dirty energy projects that worsen the climate crisis. This is wrong.”

Open Letter to Ontario Broadcasters Group regarding Green Party exclusion from May 27 debate

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To: Ontario Broadcasters Group
℅ Mackay Taggart
News Director
Global News Toronto
mackay.taggart@globalnews.ca

Dear Mr. Taggart:

With the final televised provincial leaders debate approaching, I respectfully urge the Ontario Broadcasters Group to reconsider its decision to exclude the Green Party of Ontario.

To date more than 25,000 Ontarians have signed petitions calling for fair debates that include all four major parties. You can see these petitions at www.fairdebates.ca and www.MikeAtTheMic.ca. We have the support of Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, as well as multiple journalists who believe our voice should be at the table. It is with this significant backing that I write this letter.

Televised leaders debates are an important part of our democracy and have far-reaching implications for the outcome of elections. I believe decisions about participation in these debates should be fair, transparent and made by people accountable to voters in Ontario.

That said, I recognize that the Ontario Broadcasters Group has the decision-making authority in this case. Therefore, you have a significant responsibility to the voters to present fair debates that accurately represent the political landscape and the options on June 7th. By excluding the Green Party, you are failing in that responsibility to the people of Ontario.

First, your insistence that a party must have a seat in the provincial legislature ignores the broad support the Green Party has across Ontario and Canada. Greens have been elected to provincial legislatures of BC, PEI and New Brunswick. In all of these cases, the election of Greens was preceded by their inclusion in televised debates. And in the last Ontario election, our party received over 233,000 votes and nearly 5% of the popular vote. By limiting our visibility, you are ignoring a growing movement – whose reach is global, with Greens elected in countries from Iceland to Germany.

Second, the decision ignores our credibility as one of the four major parties in Ontario. We have run a full slate of candidates in every election since 2003, and this year our full slate includes 52% women candidates. We have released a costed platform that touches on all major issues in the province. And most importantly, we are one of four parties to receive enough votes to qualify for public funding under Elections Ontario rules.

In our view it is simple: if a party qualifies for public subsidies, then it should be held accountable in the televised leaders debates. By silencing our voice, you are denying Ontarians the right to hear a viable vision for Ontario that their tax dollars are supporting. This is a disservice to democracy.

Third, as I have toured the province and spoken out on this issue, I have been told by countless media personalities and Ontarians of all political stripes that it is unacceptable that I am being shut out. In an online poll by the Toronto Star, 69% of people responded unequivocally that Greens should be included, while another 15% responded that Greens should be included if the other parties agree to it.

With this broad support from politicians, media and the people of Ontario, I ask whether you can stand behind your original decision?

There is still time to do the right thing. There are four major parties in this province – not three. I ask that you provide the voters of Ontario with the true picture of this election and allow them access to the views and policies of all four major parties.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

cc:
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier and Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP
Doug Ford, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

This is our last chance to get #MikeAtTheMic

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We have less than one week left to change the minds of the unelected, unaccountable media consortium trying to shut Mike Schreiner out of the televised Leaders Debate on May 27.

These debates can change elections. In BC, PEI and New Brunswick, Greens were all elected after appearing in debates. Getting #MikeAtTheMic to debate Wynne, Horwath and Ford will greatly improve our chances of a Green Wave on Election Day.

On Thursday, May 24, we are mobilizing all of our supporters to join a MASSIVE TWITTERSTORM to pressure the Ontario Broadcasters Group to do the right thing and put #MikeAtTheMic.

Join the Twitterstorm

Goal: Get #MikeAtTheMic trending and ensure the media consortium hears us loud and clear!

WhenThursday, May 24 between 12-1pm 

What you need to do: On Thursday, May 24, between 12-1pm, choose from the tweets below or write your own creative tweet using #MikeAtTheMic and tagging the media consortium members. Post the tweet during this time – it’s important we get as many people tweeting in this window so we can get #MikeAtTheMic trending on Twitter.

Sample Tweets

  1. 4 parties are publicly funded in Ontario and 4 parties deserve to debate on May 27. Ontario deserves to hear what the Greens have to offer. MikeAtTheMic.ca @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)
  2. Hey @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews, do the right thing and put #MikeAtTheMic MikeAtTheMic.ca #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)
  3. End the three-ring circus and make May 27th a fair debate with @OntarioGreens leader @MikeSchreiner. @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli #ONelxn MikeAtTheMic.ca (Click to Tweet)
  4. Stop telling Ontarians there are only three choices this #ONelxn @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews. @MikeSchreiner is a real alternative to the status quo circus #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli MikeAtTheMic.ca (Click to Tweet)
  5. Silencing @OntarioGreens is a disservice to democracy. Full slate of candidates. Costed platform. 233,000 votes in 2014. Put #MikeAtTheMic @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews. MikeAtTheMic.ca #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)

If you don’t have Twitter, you can still help. Send an email tomackay.taggart@globalnews.ca asking for the Green Party to be included in the televised debates. If you need some inspiration, read Mike Schreiner’s open letter here.

Lastly – if you haven’t already – sign and share the petition at MikeAtTheMic.ca.

Television managers in back rooms should not get to decide who has legitimacy and who should be held accountable by the voters in Ontario. So we need YOU to help us tell them they got it wrong.

This is our last chance to get #MikeAtTheMic. We hope you’ll join us in this effort to get our Green voices heard.

Ford sells Ontario a trumped bill of goods

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QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford’s announcement of a gas tax cut is yet another back-of-the-napkin policy idea that fails to pass the sniff test.

“The Liberals played this game with the UnFair Hydro Plan to artificially lower energy bills before an election. Now Ford is jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to buy people off at the pumps while he guts public services and takes our economy backwards,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

By closing his eyes to the overwhelming evidence that carbon pricing works, Ford is thumbing his nose at the basic principles of economics. You put a higher price on pollution, and you incentivize the good behaviour through the use of low carbon goods and services.

“Globally, cleantech is a $6 trillion industry. If Ontario were to capture even 1% of this, it would be the largest contributor to our GDP. Yesterday, after announcing the gas tax axe, Ford toured a cleantech facility in Mississauga. Does he realize that he is a walking contradiction?” said Schreiner.

“Ford’s wish to cancel all cleantech and energy efficiency programs would be like someone in the 1920s vowing to stick with horse-and-buggy transportation over the automobile. I refuse to let Doug perpetuate the myth that the economy and the environment are at odds,” said Schreiner. “The jobs of the 21st century are the clean jobs of the new economy that are already employing close to 300,000 Canadians at an average salary of $92,000 per year,” he added.

The estimated loss of over $1 billion dollars in gas tax revenues comes on the heels of Ford’s announcements of massive corporate and income tax cuts, hydro subsidies and an end to cap-and-trade revenues that put Ontario in the red to the tune of over $8 billion dollars.

Ford refuses to explain how he’ll pay for any of these promises.” This is irresponsible. If you are going to gut public services and starve the government of revenues, at least have the decency to admit it.” said Schreiner

Instead of ignoring scientific evidence and the growing business consensus, Greens have a fully costed plan to leap into the future and embrace the new economy:

  • Redirect the $3.1 billion per year in existing business support programs to target cleantech innovation, advanced manufacturing and bio-products.
  • Create a $4.18 billion Green Building and Business Program to provide grants and interest-free loans to help homeowners, renters and businesses invest in energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Put a stop to government subsidies of businesses that pollute and worsen climate change
  • Cancel the UnFair Hydro Plan and put Ontario on a path to 100% renewable energy by purchasing low-cost water power from Quebec at one-third the price of nuclear.

Disability advocacy group ranks Greens highest on accessibility commitments

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TORONTO, ON — The Green Party of Ontario has been ranked highest among all major parties in its commitments to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025.

“The Green Party gives the broadest commitments on the AODA. It is the only party that states that it supports all the specific commitments that we seek,” said the disability advocacy group AODA Alliance in its press release today.

Mike Schreiner was also the only party leader to take part in this evening’s debate on a wide range of disability issues. Schreiner outlined the party’s plan for building a fully inclusive and barrier free Ontario, underpinned by an historic Basic Income Guarantee for all that will truly tackle poverty.

“Let’s cut the red tape for persons with disabilities. A Basic Income Guarantee means an end to the unnecessary paperwork that disrespects people’s dignity,” said Schreiner.

The party’s plan would raise the assistance levels for those in the Ontario Disability Support Program to the low-income cut-off measure within four years.

At the debate, Schreiner also called out the Liberals for housing rules that do little to tackle the crisis that particularly affects marginalized populations.

“Why did the Liberals bring in inclusionary zoning rules if they were going to be so weak? We need to follow international best practice and enforce a minimum of 20% affordable housing units,” said Schreiner.

Despite creating the landmark AODA legislation in 2005, the Liberals are not on track to meet their own goals. Shockingly, they also continue to invest in public infrastructure that excludes people with disabilities.

“Transit stations are being built that still not accessible. How can this happen in 2018, knowing everything that we do and with the AODA rules in place? It is completely unacceptable,” said Schreiner.

Greens are the only party with a real plan for tackling poverty, increasing affordable housing, and bringing additional resources to Ontarians with disabilities, while being honest with people about how we are going to pay for it. See the fully costed platform at www.gpo.ca/platform

Schreiner announces game-changing plan for building world-class transit

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MISSISSAUGA, ON — At the Streetsville GO Station in Mississauga this afternoon, Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner outlined what no other party leader has had the courage to: an honest and sensible plan for funding world-class transit in Ontario.

“Greens do politics differently, and this is what we mean – being honest about paying for the infrastructure we need. Other parties promise the moon to Ontarians without telling them how they are going to pay for it. Greens know that magic money and fairy dust will not fund two-way all-day GO service. We will build the clean, affordable transit system that all Ontarians want and we won’t do it by maxing out our credit card,” said Schreiner, alongside Mississauga-Streetsville candidate, Abhijeet Manay.

The Green Party will invest $35 billion over 4 years in transit infrastructure, an increase of $1 to $1.5 billion per year over projections in the 2018 budget, and will fund 50% of the operating costs of municipal transit systems. A commitment to funding the Hurontario LRT is an essential part of the GPO plan.

To pay for this record investment in transit, Schreiner will follow the lead of other forward-looking metropolitan cities that have instituted road pricing – through tolls, congestion charges, parking levies and land value taxes in Toronto.

“I’m going to do what the economists, the business leaders and the experts all say we need to do. I have the courage of my convictions on this. While the other parties talk a good game about transit, I’m the only one backing it up with a real plan for getting Ontario moving,” added Schreiner.

The party’s commitment to sustainably funded and publicly owned mass transit earned it top grades on the TTCRiders’ report card a few weeks ago, ahead of the status-quo parties.

“It’s time we get serious about investing in liveable communities. The twenty-first century will not be dominated by car culture and the Green Party is ready to rapidly build an electrified transit system that will meet our climate targets and efficiently move people and goods across this province,” said Schreiner.

Learn more at gpo.ca/our-platform.

Greens put people ahead of speculators with bold housing plan

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ETOBICOKE, ON — After 15 years of Liberal inaction while housing prices skyrocket and rental units disappear, the Green Party of Ontario announced today a bold new housing plan that would put the needs of seniors, millennials and families first.

“The dream of owning a home is getting further and further out of reach for many people in the GTHA and across the province. It’s time for transparent rules to ensure that everyone can afford to put a roof over their head. It starts with requiring that all new developments – whether they be condos, townhouses, apartments or subdivisions – have a minimum of 20% affordable housing units,” said Mike Schreiner at the announcement in the riding of Etobicoke North, alongside GPO candidate Nancy Ghuman.

When people’s incomes are locked into big mortgage payments or high rents, communities, families and economies suffer. Greens would mandate that one in every five new builds be set below market pricing as a first step to protecting people’s ability to have an affordable place to call home.

“The housing crisis is tearing at the fabric of our communities and creating stress for young families and seniors. We do not need to pave over the Greenbelt to solve this problem. We need to demand more from developers, focus on density over sprawl, and be more innovative in using existing buildings and development lands,” added Schreiner.

Greens would work with municipalities to reform planning rules to support innovative solutions such as “tiny homes,” laneway housing, co-housing and secondary suites, all of which are eagerly supported by young people looking to rent or buy their first home.

“The Liberals have failed to put people first on this issue. When given the chance to introduce new inclusionary zoning regulations, they put the wishes of their developer friends over the urgent housing needs of Ontarians,” added Schreiner.

Greens also want to ensure that no one is forced to sleep on the street. The party will invest an additional $200 million over projected increases in the 2018 budget in funding for shelters, social, co-op and supportive housing.

“Everyone knows we have the most progressive environmental platform. But people are starting to realize that when it comes to tackling poverty and inequality, Greens are ready to take the bold steps that the status quo parties avoid,” said Schreiner.

Read the full platform here: gpo.ca/our-platform

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.”

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.”