Tag Archives: mike schreiner

A new era for the Green Party of Ontario

Saturday night at the Green Party of Ontario's leadership convention

I was asked to write a summary of the provincial Greens’ recent meeting in London, Ontario for the party’s monthly newsletter (PDF). Here it is.

I think that our new leader Mike Schreiner said it best when describing the outcome of the Green Party of Ontario’s recent leadership conference and policy convention. “There’s a sense of a new beginning, and a new era in the party.” The momentum and energy coming out of our weekend in London was that of a party that has embraced a common vision and is hopeful and upbeat about the future.

Green members from across the province met in London, Ontario from October 13th to 15th. While there were policy workshops and debates, most of the buzz was centered around celebrating outgoing leader Frank de Jong for his amazing 16-years of service, welcoming and affirming incoming leader Mike Schreiner and listening to and learning from great speakers from within and without the party.

For me, three themes emerged: that we must be the party of hope and principled solutions, that we already have more influence and impact than we know, and that in order to reach new levels of success we’re going to have to get to work.

To a certain extent, those three themes were encapsulated by three presentations. The first, by Schreiner. “Don’t appeal to fear when dealing with climate change,” he said during a town hall meeting on the Saturday, “even though fear is justified.” Instead, he said, focus on all of the great opportunities that will come out of transitioning our economy, for example.

The second, by Markham City Councillor Erin Shapero, a non-partisan, who told us in an inspiring speech that “[Greens] have shone light that has shined brighter and reached further than you may realize. Thanks to your leadership things are trickling down and happening [in governments] in ways that you maybe haven’t imagined,” before predicting that there will be Green MPPs at Queen’s Park after the next election in 2011.

The third, by Robert Routledge, a Green party member and former Barack Obama field organizer, who shared campaigning insights for an hour to a captivated audience on Sunday morning. “The other parties are better at this (campaigning) than we are,” he said, “but we can choose to out-work them. What we’re trying to do is really really hard. It’s a grind. So we can take pride in grinding it out against the other parties.”

In other words: stay positive, recognize the amazing things we’ve already done, and get to work on the incredible task ahead.

Of course, no summary can do the whole weekend justice, particularly this short one. We also heard greetings from the European Greens, communications and messaging ideas from broadcaster Ralph Benmergui, a “roast” of Frank de Jong by his partner Kelley Aitken, a rousing acceptance speech from Mike Schreiner, and more. To read even more about this weekend (including highlights from some of the speeches I mentioned), check out these blog posts:

Convention opens with tributes to Frank de Jong

Yohan Hamels brings greetings from European Greens

Mike Schreiner inspires members, sets out vision

Shapero: Greens are needed now more than ever

Greens learn “lessons of an Obama field organizer”

Acceptance Speech from Mike Schreiner

Mike Schreiner inspires members, sets out vision

Crossposted from my blog on gpo.ca, which has even more posts from this weekend’s convention.

Leadership contestant Mike Schreiner spent 30 minutes this morning answering questions from Greens in attendance at this week’s convention. His comments were an inspiring and energizing call to action. What follows is my attempt to transcribe some of his comments. These are mostly direct quotes but some slight paraphrasing has taken place as well.

Three critical pillars for Green leadership

First, you need to have the right vision. I joined the Green Party of Ontario because I absolutely believe we have the right vision.

Second, a leader needs the right organizational leadership. We have to build our organizational capacity by increasing our membership and raising more money

Third, we need to be able to effectively, clearly and compellingly deliver a message that motivates people to vote for us.

Three green messages to focus on

I think our message needs to focus on three critically important pillars.

First, we are going to advocate for building a prosperous green economy in this province

The second critical component, we need to foster strong sustainable communities and empower our municipalities.

Third, I’m going to be steadfast in my commitment to promoting the health and well being of all Ontarians.

Question: How will you ensure we run strong candidates in all ridings?

I think it’s absolutely critical that we run 107 candidates, and first we need to have 107 functioning CAs. I’m going to be a full time leader. That means I’m going to spend at least one day a week at Queen’s Park, and the other five days (I’d like to take one day a week to spend with my family) I’m going to be traveling around the province engaging voters and our members. I don’t want a candidate to go into the next election without the support of a CA in place.

But I’m going to be frank with you. We’re going to need to focus our resources on ridings where we think we have a chance to win. And when we break through in one or two ridings it’s going to benefit every single riding and every single candidate across the province.

Question: How will you ensure we’re not just preaching to the choir?

I’m going to propose that we do a Community Engagement Program where CAs go out into the community and do something like support the local BIA or organize a Buy Local campaign or a Clean Up The River campaign. We need to demonstrate concretely on the ground that we as a party are doing things to benefit the community. We have to reach out to people who are not yet members of this party. The nice thing is I’m already getting quite a few requests to speak at events that aren’t Green party events. It’s going to take just picking up the phone and talking to business leaders, community leaders, NGOs, heritage associations, and opening a conversation with them. It’s going to take every single person in this room to engage and commit to that kind of activity.

Climate change is an enormous problem, and we need to accomplish huge emissions reductions. How will we do that?

First, don’t “appeal to fear” when dealing with climate change, even though fear is justified. Instead, talk about the opportunity to transition our economy. One of the things we have to address right away is the lack of efficiency in our buildings. We need an aggressive campaign to retrofit all our buildings. The great thing about that is it’s going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The other great thing is it’s actually going to save us money over time. The second opportunity is for each and every Ontarian to become an energy entrepreneur. The third critical area is around our transportation systems. Again, we can appeal to that in a positive way. “Did we bargain for this? Do most of us really want to spend three hours a day in our cars?” No, we want to spend time with our families.

What is our position on the HST?

We’re opposed to it, and I’d invite you to read Frank de Jong’s blog on the subject. Most parties have attacked this as a “tax grab,” and it is, but there’s a more fundamental issue with the HST, and that’s the continued centralization of power in this country. We’ve taken an important tool and turned it over to the federal government. (Ed Note: I’m definitely paraphrasing here.) We use taxation tools to help create the changes we need, so abdicating those tools to another government is not in the long term interest of the province.

A final thought…

What motivates Green party activists isn’t the political appointment at the end of the day, it’s our commitment to our values, principals and vision to create a better world for our children. That, as Frank de Jong says, is our compass.

Mike Schreiner will become Green Party of Ontario leader

mike2The Green Party of Ontario, which was anticipating a leadership race culminating in a convention November 13 to 15, 2009, has just announced that at the close of nominations Mike Schreiner is the only candidate to become the next leader of the Green Party of Ontario. According to the party’s processes, he will still face a secret ballot vote against “none of the above.” (Just to be clear, he will kick NOTA’s butt.)

News reports had indicated that Mark MacKenzie was also going to contest the leadership. At this time I don’t know if he intentionally withdrew or failed to be properly nominated in time.

I will not pretend that I’m not disappointed there won’t be a contest. There are some negatives that will come out of this, specifically A) potential public perception, for anyone paying attention, that more people didn’t want the job and B) failed opportunity to gain media attention, sign up new members, etc. Leadership contests are good for parties, and this one would have been good for the provincial Greens.

However, as everyone in Ontario will soon learn, Mike Schreiner will make an excellent leader, and I’m very excited about the coming years and the 2011 election. That’s all for now, more to come later, I’m sure.

ps. To preempt predictable comments from some frustrated and vocal party members, yes, a big reason why there weren’t any other candidates is because of the party’s requirement that leadership contestants must be members of the party for at least 6 months. No, that’s not due to a conspiracy, it’s a decision that party members have made and recently reaffirmed. And no, I actually don’t like that rule. There will be some members who will propose (as they have in the past) that that rule should be changed for future contests, and I would agree. I think 6 months is too long, but it’s also the rule that was already in place for this contest, and the rules were rightly followed.


Back on January 24th I took a screenshot of the Ontario PC party’s website and started a blog post with the title “Dear John Letter.” Their website, at the time, was basically announcing that John Tory was about to return to the legislature. That headline struck me as presumptuous, arrogant, premature, etc, so I thought I’d write an open letter to John Tory asking him to correct it. But then I abandoned the post and discarded the screenshot after deciding it was a bit mean. In a way, I’m now regretting that decision, as it would be fitting to be able to post that image now. On the other hand, I don’t feel much desire to kick someone when they’re down.

Goodbye, John. As I write this all the polls aren’t in yet, but it’s over. Even if he wins now, he has lost.

In other news, Mike Schreiner, who’s a great guy, is in 3rd. Not bad.