Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner made a stop in Chatham recently on his 20-city, 2,500-kilometre tour to meet with people interested in his party’s vision for the province.
Stopping by the William Street Café Thursday for a bite to eat, Schreiner talked about the need for “people powered change” in his party’s comprehensive policy ideas called Green Vision Ontario. What he said is unique about his plans is not only do they have cost cutting initiatives, they also have a plan on how to pay for those initiatives.
“It’s really centered around jobs, people, planet,” the leader said. “I’m here to support our candidates and to talk about our Green Vision and how we can do politics different at Queen’s Park.”
“We’re the party that’s here to protect the people and places we love, and I think for a riding like this, it’s protecting prime farmland and water resources. But it’s also about addressing climate change in a way that protects our families and communities,” Schreiner added.
Jobs in the 21st century are also part of his party’s vision.
“For me it’s about embracing clean technology, innovation and investing where the puck is going instead of where it is right now. It’s building a strong, green middle class. If you look at it, 274,000 people in Canada right now work in the clean energy sector, and the average salary is $92,000, and that’s where we’re going to find those good, middle class jobs again,” he noted.
Supporting local business is also an issue. Right now, Schreiner said, the premier is pitting workers against small business owners, and the Conservative establishment is saying you can’t afford to pay workers what they are worth.
“We are the only party saying let’s pay workers a higher minimum wage and let’s also provide fair taxes for small business owners by lowering their payroll taxes so they can hire more workers at fair wages,” he said.
Weighing in the wind turbine issues in Chatham-Kent, Schreiner said he did a radio show with the folks from Water Wells First and is aware of the problems people are facing.
“My position is people’s water always comes first. I’m a big supporter of renewable energy, but it has to be done in a way that protects the people and places that we love. That includes making sure it doesn’t contaminate anyone’s water and we should have the proper environmental assessment and rules in place to ensure any form of energy production is developed in a way that doesn’t threaten our water resources,” he stated.
Schreiner said he was one of the first party leaders to strongly criticize the way the Liberals were rolling out the Green Energy Act “because they put corporate power ahead of community power.”
He noted he’s been saying all along that in places such as Denmark and Germany, it’s the citizens who own the wind turbines. The revenue flows to the local communities because they own them, which he said is revitalizing local economies and creating new jobs.
“Why the Liberals didn’t do it that way infuriates me because now they’ve taken a wonderful way to generate electricity at a price that’s dropping dramatically and they took all these great benefits and implemented it in a way to benefit their corporate friends and that’s wrong,” Schreiner said.
The party leader said his party will have a full slate of candidates soon for the upcoming election, including one for Chatham-Kent. Schreiner said at the door when he is campaigning, the response of people is “fantastic,” with many people saying they don’t want to vote for an established party.
“They are really looking at the Green Party who is talking about modernizing our economy, investing in public institutions and services like health care, education, public transit. They want a party that will protect people and places they love.”
For more information about the Green Party platform, visit gpo.ca/vision/.