By Jessica Lovell
Provincial Green Party leader Mike Schreiner wants to be Guelph’s next MPP.
Schreiner, who currently lives in Toronto, was in Guelph on Wednesday to announce that he is seeking the nomination to be Guelph’s Green candidate. His announcement was made exactly three years to the day after he was first elected leader of the party.
“I know Guelph’s values are very much aligned with Green Party values,” said Schreiner of his reasons for wanting to make Guelph his home base for the next election. “Guelph deserves to be represented by a leader of a political party that shares the community’s values,” he said in a telephone interview.Those values include being socially progressive, fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious, Schreiner said.
“I think the rest of the province has a lot to learn from Guelph,” he said.
He spoke highly of things like the city’s Community Energy Initiative, its technology and manufacturing sectors, and its position to be a leader in the local-food economy.
Food is the reason for a personal connection Schreiner holds to Guelph. It was at the annual Guelph Organic Conference that Schreiner formed the partnerships to start his Toronto-based organic food-distribution business – WOW (standing for Weekly Organic Wonder) Foods.
“I attend pretty much every year,” he said of the conference, which takes place at the University of Guelph.
Schreiner has also served on the board of directors for FarmStart, a Guelph-based initiative that supports people from non-agricultural backgrounds to go into farming.
“Guelph is a great location to be a food hub for southwestern Ontario,” said Schreiner.
He didn’t seem worried that the people of Guelph would not get a chance to know him as their local candidate due to the pressures of being a party leader.
He said he already spends a lot of time in the city and plans to establish residency here.
“We’ll do some touring of the province, but the primary focus will be me, Mike Schreiner, spending time in Guelph,” he said.
The party has learned a lot from federal Green leader Elizabeth May’s success in the Saanich-Gulf Islands, and he believes he can be embraced in Guelph the same way she was embraced there.
“We can make the same connections with the people of Guelph,” he said, noting his campaign efforts have already begun.
“We’ve already started in the sense that I’ve been meeting with lots of people in Guelph, talking about how do we bring Guelph’s green values to Queen’s Park,” he said.
Schreiner expects a provincial election to be called in the spring, he said.
Some of the issues the Green Party will be focusing on include a simple economic development strategy that involves reducing payroll taxes for small and medium-size businesses; a stronger education system at all levels, but particularly one that merges the public and Catholic school boards; and a transportation plan that supports better public transit as well as an infrastructure fund for safe streets for those who are walking and cycling, said Schreiner.
“I think you’re going to see the strongest Green campaign we’ve ever mounted,” he said.
The local Green Party will hold its official nomination meeting Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Innovation Guelph, 111 Farquhar St.