In the face of climate change, resource extraction and sprawl, Mike’s draft legislation seeks to protect the Paris Galt Moraine, an essential water ecologically sensitive recharge area in the Grand River Watershed which naturally purifies water for the citizens of Guelph and the surrounding area. Bill 71 would amend the province’s Planning Act and Development Charges Act to more strictly regulate development that could jeopardize the moraine’s integrity.
“This is about conserving what nature can do for free, so I cannot think of a more fiscally responsible solution. Failure to act could put the government on the hook for hundreds of millions in water infrastructure, like an expensive pipeline from the Great Lakes.”
Mike wrote the draft legislation over a period of months where he consulted with water experts and Ontario stakeholders, including First Nations, municipalities, farmers and MPPs from all parties.
With this important legislation, Mike has demonstrated the Green Party’s core commitment to participatory democracy and consensus based governance by building all-party support, which resulted in the bill’s passage at Second Reading on March 7th, 2019. “I’m glad my colleagues unanimously showed their commitment to Ontario’s water today. Safeguarding water and food-growing farmland should not be partisan issues. Let this be a first step towards all-party collaboration to protect the places we love,” said Schreiner.
“I appealed to good progressive conservative thinking from the past. But it took four different bills over two years before the Oak Ridges Moraine was protected by legislation. With climate change on Ontario’s doorstep, and $1.2 billion in damage last year alone, we must act quicker. I look forward to working on this bill at committee, and this legislation returning to the House for a final vote.”
—Mike Schreiner, First Green legislation passes key vote with all-party support
During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.
Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.
But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.
Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.
It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation. You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:
Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there. That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.
There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature.
Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast. (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).
So what’s the rush?
There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects. That’s how our system is supposed to work. In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny. If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.
The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late. Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.
In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”
Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.” But what does that mean? This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.
But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented. There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt. There is no need to endanger our water or anything else. That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.
Why is this happening?
Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low. When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland. But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.
Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents. (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected. But that’s another story.)
The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.
Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.
The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up. The worst is another Walkerton. Or another Elmira.
And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation. Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.
And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.
January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known. It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission. There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below. There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment. Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two. I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66. I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.
Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:
You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website. If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.
Ontario’s new “Climate Policy” is passing the buck to us. As with the previous government, ordinary people are encouraged to renovate our homes and buy more fuel efficient cars. But now, the program subsidies that would help us do these things are gone. Even worse, our tax dollars will go into a fund to reward industries who pollute now.
So. People get no help to do our part. Instead, our tax dollars will go to fuel big businesses.
“We were promised a climate strategy, but were given a litter reduction plan.
If this is the government’s response to the dire warnings from the IPCC about the impending climate catastrophe, then they clearly were not listening.
Instead of showing leadership, the government is weakening Ontario’s previous targets and adopting an unproven carbon trust model that is unlikely to reduce emissions. The new Trudeau/Harper targets mean that we will fail to meet the goals set under Paris Climate Agreement.
More importantly we will not meet our obligations to leave a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.
Asking citizens to pay polluters and setting up burdensome new regulations will only cost more and delay action. These will do little to put Ontario on a pathway to being carbon neutral by 2050. Instead, they signal that Ontario is throwing in the towel.
And asking Ontarians to reduce litter in the face a climate crisis is like the US President asking Californians to rake leaves to prevent forest fires.
We should expect better. We must demand a real plan.
Pollution pricing is basic economics. But this government continues to ignore the consensus from scientists, experts and even conservative economists who agree on it. The Premier could embrace the $26 trillion clean economy and put money directly in people’s pockets by adopting the Green Party’s carbon fee and dividend solution.
At the end of the day, we will all pay the price for this irresponsible plan. But in the face of evidence and real solutions, this government has chosen to be on the wrong side of history.”
Cannabis should never have been made illegal, but since it was, the Green Party supports good public policy to rectify the mistakes of the past.
The Green Party is pleased that Canadians will soon be able to access marijuana openly and safely — free from the threat of being criminally charged.
However, many thousands of Canadians who previously smoked or possessed cannabis, but were caught by police, will remain criminals in the eyes of the law. A disproportionate number of racialized Canadians have been charged, and all those convicted face serious obstacles applying for jobs and travelling abroad.
Join us in demanding the Liberal government provide amnesty for all Canadians convicted solely on charges of marijuana possession.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to get the big picture. So for my own interest, I decided to check out Elections Ontario (unofficial results) to get an idea how our Green Candidates did overall. Although I did this for my own interest, Bob pointed out this might be of interest to others, so here it is.(note: the above all candidates image is actually in three pieces, part 1 is the first 6 rows, part 2 the next 5 rows, and part 3 the last 5 rows. Click on the section you want to see the segment at full size.)
All five of our Waterloo Region Greens candidates did very well overall.
Kitchener South—Hespeler candidate David Weber‘s 7.53 riding vote percentage was the 6th highest in Ontario (up from 7th in 2014). Kitchener Centre‘s candidate Stacey Danckert ranked 9th with 6.84%, Kitchener—Conestoga candidate Bob Jonkman ranked 11th with 6.51%, Cambridge candidate Michele Braniff ranked 14th with 6.27%, and first time candidate Zdravko Gunjevic ranked 24th with 4.83% in Waterloo.
And while I know from personal experience how lucky Waterloo Region has been to have such an excellent roster of WRGreens candidates, I have met enough other Green Party Candidates to know this isn’t really unusual. Frankly, I am continually stunned by the calibre of Green Party Candidates in general. Although the Green Party has far and away the best policy of any of the top four parties, putting your hat in the ring requires a great deal of time, money and effort for any candidate. It’s a big personal investment no matter which party a candidate is running for, and Greens are faced with additional handicaps:
an electoral system that discriminates egregiously against the Greens,
unrelenting propaganda that insists majority government is a good thing,
the exclusion of the Green Party Leader in televised Leaders Debates
the MSM agenda to keep us perpetually cycling between red and blue parties,
the never ending push for strategic voting,
the catch 22 perception that no seats in the legislature means Greens are unelectable, and
the low probability of winning, even when you are the best candidate in your riding.
Green Candidates are well aware of how little chance they have of being elected, but in spite of everything, excellent Green Party Candidates keep stepping up.
Working together is the WRGreens superpower.
Stacey Danckert brought us all together under the unofficial WRGreens umbrella during the 2015 federal election, and our regional cooperation is paying off. Cooperating, sharing our experience and resources has been incredibly helpful for us here in Waterloo Region. And not just during elections. We’ve been actively working to raise the Green profile between elections, by hosting information tables at local summer festivals where we can, hosting our own events and participating in others as appropriate, and building our online presence on the WRGreens blog. We’re always learning, and we’ll do it even better next time. Especially now that Mike Schreiner has won that so important first seat.
Strategic Voting is a only a good strategy for the candidate who gets the vote we would rather cast elsewhere.
I know how hard it can be to stay positive, and to keep focus on the campaign. But after media suppression, I think our worst threat is falling prey to propaganda.
The strategic voting narrative continues to be powerful, and it is always the worst when it strikes from within.
In many ways I think this is especially difficult for Greens, because Greens are the unparty party, the party that applauds other parties when they appropriate our ideas, even when implemented badly, because it’s a start.
The stakes are so high that sometimes a candidate falls victim to strategic voting propaganda, and suggests their supporters vote instead for a competitor who might win against a greater evil. This really isn’t surprising in a party that understands the importance of working together for the common good. Green Candidates aren’t professional politicians, they’re people from all walks of life who get involved because they understand our future is at stake and change is no longer optional. They’re in this because serious issues that need to be addressed, not for the greater glory of the party.
One of the reasons strategic voting is wrong is that it is always built on the faulty premise that old statistics— whether gleaned from past elections or recent opinion polls— can accurately predict who might win. If this were true, there would be no need for the trouble and expense of elections.
In this campaign, I was particularly unhappy to see a terrible strategic voting meme initiated by Meanwhile In Canada. The post in question actually told voters to vote NDP except in 5 cases, where it said voters should vote Green because Green candidates could win in those 5 ridings. Some Green folk helped spread this meme thinking it might help change the perception that Green candidates couldn’t win.
I don’t know what exactly that prediction was based on, but two of the candidates who went on to rank in the top 5 percentages in their ridings were excluded from the 5 supposedly winnable ridings. We will never know how many more votes those candidates (or all the Green candidates MiC strategically dismissed) might have won if that social media maven hadn’t been telling voters to vote against Greens in the last week of the campaign.
Although there are no scientific studies of which I am aware, I think Strategic Voting is the most powerful vote suppression tool going. When people are convinced their vote won’t have any effect, or worse, that it will help elect the boogeyman provided by our FPTP system, many feel the only responsible choice is not voting.
We only get one vote. That’s not a vote for a party. It’s not a vote for a party leader. It’s a vote for our local representative. I have to wonder how much better Greens would do in elections if they didn’t have to spend half the election explaining what’s wrong with Strategic Voting.
Since I’m sharing rankings, here are the GPO Top 5:
These 5 candidates are leading the way forward. Onward!
Today is Election Day. If you got a little card in the mail (like the one Bob’s holding) it will tell you where you’ll find your polling station. If you haven’t received one of these you can still vote with proper ID. Even if you aren’t registered to vote.
If you have made a mistake and marked your ballot incorrectly, you may return the incorrectly marked ballot to the election official. The election official will cancel the ballot and reissue you a new ballot. The election official will then write “cancelled” on the back of the ballot. Cancelled ballots are not placed in the ballot box, and are not part of the official results.
Please encourage anyone you know to vote today. (No matter who they want to vote for.)
We’ve been told over and over that we need majority government, as if majority government has ever been good for us. With our unfair First Past The Post voting system, “majority government” enjoy majority power even though they’ve earned their majority with only a minority of votes. What I’ve seen is that such phony majority governments listen to citizens the least. With all the power they don’t ask us, they tell us.
Instead of highlighting the candidate we can actually vote for, the main stream media has focused almost entirely on the party leaders. All too often Canadian voters don’t even know much if anything about the local candidate we can actually vote for– the candidate who is supposed to represent our interests in the legislature. For the big three, the Liberal, PC and NDP parties that almost makes sense, because the local candidates we elect are representing the party’s agenda to us. When it comes time for MPPs to vote on the policy & laws made in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, those MPPs are almost always obliged to vote the way their party dictates.
But the Green Party does politics differently. The way I think representative democracy is supposed to work. Green MPPs votes are never whipped; in fact, Green MPPs are obliged to consider the wishes of their constituents– that is to say the voters whose votes elected them– ahead of the wishes of the party.
Until just before the Ontario Election was called, Kitchener—Conestoga was considered a “safe seat” for respected incumbent PC MPP Michael Harris. But the new administration thought it best to replace him with the son of a previous Premier more apt to support the new leadership. After Mike Harris Jr failed to win the Waterloo nomination, it might have seemed like a good idea to install him in a riding he might win through name confusion.
The traditional next choice for this riding would be the Liberal Candidate, even though he, too, tried and failed to win his party’s nomination in another riding before being installed here. But in the face of Premier Wynne’s concession, suddenly that is no longer a shoe in.
It’s looking more and more like an NDP Government will be formed out of this mess. But even there, Kitchener—Conestoga wasn’t the Candidate’s first choice, as she doesn’t actually live in the riding any more. What concerns me more is that she’s introduced herself at debates as Andrea Horwath’s representative. It’s hard to serve two masters.
Voters inclined to vote conservative or liberal tend not to choose NDP for their second choice. If they’re aware of the fiscally responsible and progressively sound Green Party policies, they may well consider voting for the Green Party Candidate. Especially if they’ve seen or heard Bob at any of the debates.
Greens have been talking about making history in this election by electing the first Green Ontario MPP by sending GPO leader Mike Schreiner to represent the citizens of Guelph in Queen’s Park. But with red and blue parties in disarray, there is a much greater chance we will will send many more Green MPPs to the legislature along with Mike Schreiner. Kitchener Centre’s Stacey Danckert is a real contender. And here in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, it seems to me that Bob Jonkman has the best shot any Green has ever had at winning this election contest.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
We’ve just posted the entire New Hamburg Board of Trade Debate to YouTube: