Mike Schreiner was elected leader of the Green Party of Ontario on November 14, 2009. A leading advocate for independent businesses, local food and sustainable communities, Mike Schreiner is well known for his leadership in co-founding the award-winning Local Food Plus organization and brings a proven track record in business and leadership roles to the GPO.
A respected, successful entrepreneur, Mike started his career in Toronto operating his own food distribution business for over 10 years that specialized in delivering local, natural and organic foods to homes in Toronto. His business was awarded the Citizen’s Bank of Canada Ethics in Action Award for socially responsible business and the Toronto Food Policy Council’s Local Food Hero Award.
Building on that success, he helped establish Local Food Plus, a non-profit that brings farmers and consumers together to promote financially, socially and environmentally sustainable local food systems. While at LFP, the organization won the Canadian Environment Award for Sustainable Living, a Green Toronto Award of Excellence--Health Category, a Green Toronto Award of Excellence--Market Transformation Category and NOW Magazine’s Best of Toronto Award for best new environmental initiative.
Actively involved in the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) since 2004, Mike Schreiner has represented the party as a candidate in Simcoe-Grey in 2011 and in the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock by-election in 2009. Mike co-chaired the 2007 election platform committee and served as Policy Coordinator from 2008-2009. Mike is the GPO's first full-time leader.
Family and community are important to Mike. He lives with his wife Sandy and their two daughters in Toronto and in Dunedin, a beautiful hamlet, just outside Creemore, in Simcoe-Grey. He spends his free time gardening, hiking, fishing, cycling and volunteering in community activities.
Mike has served as a volunteer on boards and committees such as the Brewer’s Plate Steering Committee, Green Enterprise Toronto Steering Committee, the Board of Directors of FarmStart, a governor for the Canadian International Peace Project, Treasurer and Board member of Campus Coop Daycare, the Toronto Food Policy Council, among others.
It is irresponsible and unacceptable when the so-called leader of the free world turns his back on climate change -- the biggest and most urgent crisis facing humanity. Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement is a massive failure of leadership.
Did you know that the fastest growing line item in the Ontario Liberal budget is interest payments on debt? At $11.5 billion, interest on debt is the fourth biggest spending category in the Liberal budget. This might be good for bankers and bondholders. . But it's not good for you. It's not good for most people in Ontario.
When people's incomes are locked into making mortgage payments or rent, small businesses and local economies suffer. High mortgages mean little flexibility, and not much left over for other life purchases. The consequence: big chunks of cash flow to Bay Street instead of Main Street. There is no question that the province needs to take action now to combat speculation, increase supply and decrease demand.
$1.4 billion per year would pay for 20,000 nurses in Ontario. It could save some of the 11 schools slated to close in Ottawa and dozens more around the province. It would go a long way to improving regional transit links. It could build hospitals, protect our water; the list goes on. This is what happens when politicians mess up the hydro file and become desperate to buy votes. You end up paying big time.
Road tolls provide more than just a funding tool to build transit. Road pricing also reduces congestion. It creates incentives to carpool or take transit. Pricing is essential to allocating scarce road resources efficiently and affordably. Instead of being honest with people about the need for funding solutions, however, politicians at Queen's Park have poured cold water on Toronto's plan to pay for transit.
Imagine this. You open your mailbox this month. Voila! Here is your first carbon dividend cheque from the province. Suddenly, combating climate change with a price on carbon pollution doesn't hurt your pocketbook like conservatives said it would. Ontario could have a climate plan like this. It's called carbon fee and dividend.
Ontario's Liberal government's deeply ingrained struggles with honesty and transparency continue to taint their governing legacy. That struggle is most pronounced in the Liberal's ongoing war with Ontario's Independent Officers of the Legislature, who are tasked with holding government and provincial agencies accountable.
The Liberal Party's hydro subsidy smacks of desperation. It's bad policy, and playing politics over rising electricity prices is going to be expensive. Just like with the gas plant scandal, the Liberals are putting their political self-interest ahead of good public policy. They are trying to buy your vote with your money. It is going to cost us big time -- over $1 billion a year to be exact.
Ontario's Liberal government is giving away our water. The ridiculously low water-taking fee in Ontario only covers 1.2 per cent of the province's total water quality management costs. This means the Liberals are using my -- and your -- tax dollars to subsidize companies to take our water.
Did you know interest payments on debt are already the third highest expenditure in Ontario's budget? Interest payments cost more than the entire budgets for transportation, college and universities, children and youth services, even slightly more than social services. Only health care and education have higher budgets than interest payments on debt.
Pickering is already 15 years past its best before date. It's the fourth oldest nuclear station in North America and the seventh oldest nuclear station in the world. Given its age, it is not surprising that Pickering is one of the most unreliable and poorest performing nuclear plants in North America.
Imagine the public outcry if the Ontario government ignored mercury poisoning in the Grand River watershed in southwestern Ontario. The public pressure to clean it up immediately would be overwhelming. The government would rigorously explore every option to clean it up. Yet, the sad truth is that for over 30 years the Ontario government has ignored scientific reports on the need for and ways to clean up the mercury poisoning in the English-Wabigoon River System in northwestern Ontario. The Grassy Narrows First Nation has paid the price with losses to their health, economy and culture.
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation. We are running out of time to address it, as the risks and costs of the crisis grow. For far too long Queen's Park has failed to muster the political will to tackle it. The good news is that Ontario finally has a climate action plan. The not-so-good news is that many aspects of the Liberal plan are intentions to develop a plan for future actions -- a bit fuzzy, given the scale and immediacy of the problem. The even worse news is that the plan is weakest in the area that it needs to be the strongest to be effective: its carbon price.
We anticipate the Ontario Liberal government's long-awaited plan to address climate change will finally roll out soon. Unfortunately, the Liberal's cap-and-trade legislation gives over 100 of Ontario's biggest polluters a free pass. Handing out free pollution permits undermine the effectiveness and integrity of the cap-and-trade system.
After being shamed into action by media report and letter writing campaigns, the Ontario Liberals have finally introduced an election financing reform bill. Unfortunately, it doesn't go far enough. The changes move the dial in the right direction -- by banning corporate and union donations, for example. But privileged hands can still find their way into the cookie jar. Quebec may have the solution to this problem.
The status quo parties at Queen's Park have laser-sharp focus when it comes to attacks on each other's fundraising practices. The accusations they are throwing around ask who is selling access to whom. The truth: none of the three parties at Queen's Park have a clean record on donations. I support calls for inquiries into past practices and committees to consult the public, but I don't want these efforts to delay passing legislation to transform the system. Fixes should be in place before the 2018 provincial election. We need transformational change now to get the stink out of Queen's Park.
But it certainly appears that Premier Wynne has put out a big for sale sign by hosting high-priced private dinners for deep-pocketed insiders. Sadly, the premier has defended the indefensible by saying that corporate fundraising is part of the political process. She has attempted to justify her high-priced private dinners by claiming that everyday citizens have the same access as those ponying up $6,000 a plate. If this true, then for that price people must be getting some extra fine food. The premier and the political establishment dismiss critics of corporate fundraising by hiding behind the rules. Well, I say the rules stink.
I'm outraged. Like you, my cost of living is going up. Home insurance premiums are up due to extreme weather. Food prices are up due to extreme drought. Taxes are up to pay for infrastructure that's been destroyed by ice storms and flooding. This climate thing is starting to cost -- a lot. Nature's response to our pollution is like a tax on everything. Since carbon pollution keeps getting worse, nature is digging even deeper into my pocket. So, what is government going to do to put an end to this cash grab?
The Ontario Liberals are betting $13 billion of your dollars on rebuilding the Darlington Nuclear Station. It is so risky that no private company will fully insure nuclear plants, and it prompted Standard & Poor's to downgrade Ontario Power Generation's credit rating in 2012. But whatever the reason, the Liberals are failing to capitalize on economic opportunities for Ontario. This means we risk missing out on the global renewable energy revolution. Investors and countries are acting now to take advantage of dramatically falling prices for renewable energy.