The Hamilton Spectator

Why I want Mike Schreiner to lead Liberals


I admit it. I joined dozens of other Ontario Liberals and signed an open letter to Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner asking him to join our party’s upcoming leadership race.

No, I haven’t had a horrible lapse of judgment or suddenly become disloyal to the party that I represente­d for 11 years.

On the contrary, I think convincing Schreiner to join the race would be a good thing for Ontario, the Liberal party and Schreiner himself, for a whole bunch of reasons.

First, he is one of the most respected figures in Ontario politics today. He has a welldeserv­ed reputation for being thoughtful, approachab­le and a person of integrity. Although his party has only one seat in the legislatur­e, he has punched far above his weight in holding the Ford government to account.

Schreiner speaks with authority on an issue central to our very existence — the environmen­t. But it hasn’t stopped there. He has been a strong defender of health care, education and efforts to reduce poverty. He holds middle of the road economic views and is a strong advocate for fiscal responsibi­lity. He would make a great leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Admittedly, he is currently the leader of a different political party which brings me to the next reason.

People are sick and tired of the way politics is practised these days: the hyperparti­sanship; the lack of co-operation; and every party’s claim of having a monopoly on good ideas and virtue.

Here is an opportunit­y for Ontario Liberals to demonstrat­e a truly different approach to politics. When I think of the Liberal legacy in government, many of the high points relate to the environmen­t — the creation of the Greenbelt, the closing of coalfired plants and the shift toward cleaner sources of energy. Why not embrace someone who shares our passion on this issue and holds similar progressiv­e views on a variety of others?

Finally, I believe this is a winwin for both Schreiner and the Liberals.

For Schreiner, joining the Liberals would give him a larger platform to bring forward his positive vision. He will have a greater chance of seeing his ideas implemente­d. Although the Liberals are down, they are not out. Close to one in four Ontarians voted Liberal in the most recent election.

That said, the Ontario Liberal Party is in trouble. It only has eight seats in the legislatur­e and desperatel­y needs a shot in the arm. Schreiner’s entry into the leadership race would generate excitement and attention. It would attract new members, new ideas and new energy.

This is not a vote of non-confidence in the party or the talented individual­s who have already expressed an interest in being leader. Instead, it is a recognitio­n that political parties are not private clubs open only to those who have “paid their dues.” For a political party to be successful, it must be welcoming, constantly growing, and broadening its base.

Schreiner has indicated a willingnes­s to consider the arguments put forward in the letter. He said he would be consulting widely and there is a website encouragin­g him to run. I hope Ontarians send a strong message in favour of doing politics differentl­y and encourage him to join the leadership race.

 ?? ?? Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is being courted to join the Ontario Liberal Party.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is being courted to join the Ontario Liberal Party.

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