May 12, 2014 1:23 pm

Ontario election: Where’s the Green?

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner poses for a photo in front of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday May 7, 2014.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner poses for a photo in front of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday May 7, 2014.

As provincial candidates Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak take over the headlines, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the province’s fourth party – the Greens, led by Mike Schreiner.

There are no hordes of reporters on his campaign bus – sorry, his “campaign Hybrid vehicle” – no real-time updates on his latest pronouncements. He’s still finalizing his next-day itinerary.

Is he relevant? He thinks so – even if he has yet to unveil a platform.

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“People are saying ‘Mike, we need a breath of fresh air that the Green party provides. … They are telling me politics is broken. They’re sick of the games from the other three parties. They’re sick of the lack of being forthright and honest about where they stand’.”

Schreiner says the Green party is prepared to deliver solutions on such hot topics as job creation, education and transit.

“The Green party is the only party talking about payroll tax reductions for small businesses. And that’s where the jobs are,” he said.

The party’s primary goal, Schreiner said, is to elected “one or two” Green MPPs “to change the conversation at Queen’s Park. “I’ve been doing a tonne of events in Guelph,” the riding where Schreiner’s running, and where they think they may have a shot.

In the 2011 provincial election the Green party received 6.9 per cent of the popular vote in Guelph. Schreiner hopes to increase that number this election.

‘I started my first business in Guelph 18 years ago. It was a local organic business,” he said. (His website calls WOW Foods an “award winning local organic food distribution company.”)

“Well, 18 years later that business is still running strong. I think Guelph is the greenest community in Ontario and it’s the place that will elect the first Green MPP.”

At least one Guelph business owner has taken notice.

Bobbi Miner-Neal, owner of the Joint Cafe, says she’s seen more of the Green party and their supporters than any other party so far this election. Schreiner and Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party, a visited the Joint Café on Friday, May 2.

“I’ve seen a lot of Green party support. Guelph is a bit of tree-hugger community … a lot of people can identify with the Green party,” she said.

Miner-Neal says she’s disappointed with the current party leaders and thinks a Green change would be a good thing.

“He [Schreiner] was great. He was able to relate to a lot of the young people here … I think he would be a good leader and we need to give them a chance.”

Schriener says he’ll move his campaign further north this week to Dufferin-Caledon and Parry Sound – Muskoka, which have been polling relatively high for Green.

The Green party received 9.1 per cent of the popular vote in Parry Sound- Muskoka in 2011.

That comes as a surprise to local restaurateur Jeff Suddaby.

“I haven’t been hearing a lot about the Green party revolution, … I haven’t heard people really talk about them.”

Low-profile or no, the party plans to run candidates in all 107 ridings across Ontario.

The party plans to unveil its platform Tuesday, May 13 at 9 a.m..  Schreiner says the focus of his campaign will be  to restore honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen’s Park.

“People have been telling me they’re sick of the political games the other three parties are playing and they want change.”

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