The leader of Ontario’s Green Party Mike Schreiner sat down with Global News anchor Angie Seth ahead of the upcoming spring election to discuss his party’s vision for Ontario and how it differs from the three other parties.
Schreiner, who has been the leader of the Green Party since November 2009, said the party’s main focus for the upcoming spring election is to put people and the planet first. He said the party’s vision in Ontario and across Canada is to do “politics differently” than party rivals.
“To put honesty, integrity [and] polices that work for people ahead of our own party’s self-interest,” he said. “That’s the kind of new way of doing politics that I believe the people in Ontario are hungry for.”
“One of the concrete examples of that is just how do we work together to build Ontario up instead of fight with each other which is typical politics and tear each other down,” he said, pointing to the topic of minimum wage, which has been a hot topic since the Liberals led by Kathleen Wynne increased it on Jan. 1 to $14 from $11.60.
While the increase was supported by some, it was not without controversy. Tim Hortons came under fire when it was revealed that some franchisees cut employee benefits to offset the impact of the minimum wage hike.
“I think we can both raise the minimum wage so workers receive a living wage, but we can also lower payroll taxes on small businesses to provide them with immediate cash flow relief so they can hire more people at a better wage,” Schreiner said. “It’s that kind of win-win solution that people are looking for in politics today.”
A previous Ipsos poll conducted in early May exclusively for Global News found that Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford would receive 40 per cent of the decided popular vote, with Andrea Horwath‘s NDP receiving 29 per cent and Wynne’s Liberals 26 per cent (down one point from early April).
Shreiner believes there is a lot of anger toward the current government right now, which makes him confident that he can win his riding which has predominantly voted Liberal in past elections.
“A lot of people are telling me that they’re not going to vote for the establishment party that hasn’t governed the province well, but they’re also not going to vote for the other establishment party that has shown it can’t govern itself let alone the province, over the last couple months.”
The Green Party leader said the government is failing to put people — and the province first.
“The reason is all too often at Queen’s Park, you see decisions are being made to benefit the well-connected and insiders.”
He called the government’s green energy plan “visionary” but said if it were up to his party, he would not have had “almost all” contracts signed with multinational corporations.
“If Ontario had followed best practices like other jurisdictions around the world like Denmark that requires 20 per cent local ownership or Germany where almost half of the renewable energy projects are owned by German citizens creating economic benefits for local communities, job creation for local communities.”
The Greens aim to create jobs and put policies in place in the province that put both people and the planet first.
Delving deeper into renewable energy, Schreiner pointed to the $3 billion the province spends in business support programs, that he said the Financial Accountability Office is unsure whether it is effective or not.
“The Greens would redirect that money and invest it in clean innovation, clean technology [and] biomanufacturing. Helping those companies scale up and create good 21st century jobs.”
Two debates have taken place so far in the election campaign, but Schreiner didn’t participate in either one, something the leader isn’t too worried about. By not being able to participate in the May 7 one in downtown Toronto, he said he actually won.
“If you saw those three leaders, they were more about tearing each other down and talking about what was wrong with the other party than talking about how we can build Ontario up – what’s your vision for the future.”
The Green Party of Ontario became an official political party in 1983 and has steadily grown in popularity since it’s inception.
“We started out obviously a couple decades ago as a very small party running very few candidates. Now we’re running a full slate of candidates, a gender balanced slate of candidates,” Schreiner said.
—With files from Angie Seth and Ryan Rocca
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