What I Would Have Said in the Debate

What I Would Have Said in the Debate
Posted on June 4, 2014 | Mike Schreiner | Written on June 3, 2014
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Publisher:
Green Party of Ontario Platform

The leaders’ debate makes it clear that the political status quo is broken. Ontario desperately needs change.

Tonight's debate failed to mention many priorities of Ontarians. It failed to mention how we can create jobs while tackling climate change. It failed to mention how we can build great communities without destroying prime farmland or source water regions.

The three status quo parties are not willing to have an honest conversation about how we can invest in our kids classrooms by merging our school boards.

The leaders' of the other parties will have you believe they can build transit without being honest about how they are paying for it. They will have you believe the government cannot reduce poverty while balancing the budget.

If I had been there, I would have demanded the other leaders have an honest conversation about the big challenges facing Ontario.

The leaders' debate makes it clear that the political status quo is broken. Ontario desperately needs change.

Tonight's debate failed to mention many priorities of Ontarians. It failed to mention how we can create jobs while tackling climate change. It failed to mention how we can build great communities without destroying prime farmland or source water regions.

The three status quo parties are not willing to have an honest conversation about how we can invest in our kids classrooms by merging our school boards.

The leaders' of the other parties will have you believe they can build transit without being honest about how they are paying for it. They will have you believe the government cannot reduce poverty while balancing the budget.

If I had been there I would have challenged the other leaders to have an honest conversation about the big challenges facing Ontario.

We are on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen's park.

- See more at: http://www.gpo.ca/statement/green-party-ontario-leader-mike-schreiners-s... are my answers to the questions that were raised tonight:

The leaders' debate makes it clear that the political status quo is broken. Ontario desperately needs change.

Tonight's debate failed to mention many priorities of Ontarians. It failed to mention how we can create jobs while tackling climate change. It failed to mention how we can build great communities without destroying prime farmland or source water regions.

The three status quo parties are not willing to have an honest conversation about how we can invest in our kids classrooms by merging our school boards.

The leaders' of the other parties will have you believe they can build transit without being honest about how they are paying for it. They will have you believe the government cannot reduce poverty while balancing the budget.

If I had been there I would have challenged the other leaders to have an honest conversation about the big challenges facing Ontario.

We are on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen's park.

- See more at: http://www.gpo.ca/statement/green-party-ontario-leader-mike-schreiners-s...

Topic 1: Wasteful spending

All three of the status quo parties are proven money-wasters. The Liberals are responsible for the gas plants, ORNGE, and the 10% subsidy on your electricity bill. The NDP wants to add $100 and a break on the HST, alongside a lot of other uncosted promises. The PCs campaign on preventing waste and cutting jobs, but they don’t want to go for the low-hanging fruit: merging the school boards, raising royalty rates, closing loopholes.

Before we fire 100,000 people, let’s merge the school boards. Before we take money that could be used for reducing poverty to subsidize electricity bills, let’s raise royalty rates to something closer to the Canadian average. Before we refurbish nuclear plants, let’s help homeowners increase the value of their homes, while reducing their energy costs.

Topic 2: Energy and Electricity Costs

Energy costs are different from electricity rates, and I think that everyone who pays a bill knows that. The smart money is in reducing consumption. The Green plan will help you increase the value of your home, stimulate the creation of skilled and professional jobs in your community, and contribute to reducing carbon pollution.

The other parties have all sorts of schemes, gimmicks, and shell games ready when they are asked how they will address energy costs. We have real action planned.

I want us to take money that we don’t have to use to refurbish nuclear plants to help you retrofit your home. You’ll save money even as energy costs go up. You’ll help create local jobs. You’ll help Ontario transition to a smarter economy and a better society. And the value of your home will increase.

Topic 3: Jobs and the Economy

I think we’re all tired of vague threats, empty promises, and wishful thinking as far as the economy goes. The Green Party doesn’t have any complicated plans to make one million out of minus-one-hundred-thousand jobs -- I missed that math class. We have solid ideas to support a stronger economy moving forward.

One, we will lower payroll taxes on small business. We are the only party talking about how to help small business with the cost of employing people.

Two, we will invest in energy retrofits. $4 billion over four years, saved from the wasteful refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear plants, invested instead in insulation, doors, windows, and other energy-saving renovations in your home. It’s a proven job creator, a powerful stimulus to local economies, and a cool way to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.

Three, we will improve transit and deal with the terrible cost to our economy and our lives that the failure to provide 21st-century transit brings. More on that below in Topic 5 below.

Topic 4: The deficit

The deficit is a serious problem. We are leaving our children with more than they should have to handle in so many ways. We need to take better care of their futures now.

Our plan will cut the deficit by increasing revenues. We’ll increase royalties on aggregates, water-taking, and mining to bring in $1.7 billion a year, and we’ll increase the corporate tax rate by 1%. We also advocate for a carbon tax which will bring Ontario more in line with other jurisdictions when it comes to balancing between the use of natural resources, the profits that are made from them, and the impacts they have on the environment.

No program spending is increased in our proposals. We have found the money in existing programs that we think are wasteful.

Topic 5: Paying for transit fairly

The Green Party is the only party advocating a dedicated revenue source for transit.

Our transit plan collects ⅔ of the revenue from urban sources, where transit is most important to help resolve gridlock, get people home to their families, and ensure safer, healthier communities. For the equivalent of $250 per year per person in Ontario, we can provide the transit we need to get us out of the traffic jam we’re stuck in.

Most of the $3 billion a year experts agree we need for the transit we want will be raised by commercial parking levies. The remainder will be raised by a small increase in the gas tax, land-value capture, and congestion charges. Of those, only the gas tax will impact rural Ontarians.

If we don’t pay for transit with money, we will pay for it in happiness, time with our families, and economic productivity. Right now we are wasting $6 billion a year in lost productivity caused by gridlock in the GTHA. That will rise to $15 billion a year, every year, within a decade.

Topic 6: Education

The leaders were asked, “what will you do for Ontario’s high school and elementary students and protect job security for teachers?” Not one of them mentioned the elephant in the room: merging the separate and secular school boards so that we have one public system with French and English boards.

I don’t need to remind you of the persistent human rights concerns that plague our present system. I probably don’t need to tell you that ⅔ of Ontario’s qualified teachers can’t work full-time in ⅓ of Ontario’s schools.

But I need us all to know that if children with special needs are being sent home because there isn’t enough money to fund their education in our system, I know where we can find between $1.2 and $1.6 billion that should go back in the classroom right now.

That’s not magic math. It’s just basic arithmetic. Over $1 billion in wasted duplication, buses, buildings, and bureaucracy, and a tragic shortfall in our budget for education of children with special needs.

Conclusion:

I think I should have been in the debate tonight. I wanted the opportunity to show Ontarians that you can vote for the future you want, not against what you fear. I wanted to show you that you can elect leadership that you can trust to be honest, to talk straight, and to keep our common best interest in focus.

I'm looking forward to being in the real leaders' debate and representing the people of Guelph and of Ontario in the legislature.

On June 12, vote Green.

About The Author

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. He brings a proven... More

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