The Hamilton Spectator

Why I don’t want Schreiner to join the Liberals


I understand why former MLA John Milloy and several other Liberals want Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner to step into the Liberal party leadership race.

As Mr. Milloy points out, “… Schreiner 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.”

Mr. Milloy goes on to say that people are “sick and tired of the way politics is practised these days,” citing hyperparti­sanship and lack of co-operation among the parties.

That is quite an epiphany. After being reduced to eight seats in the legislatur­e, some Ontario Liberals are suddenly sick of the way politics is practised and feel there is no one within their ranks up to doing the job.

Trying to persuade the leader of another party to cross the floor sounds more like co-opting than co-operation.

It is not a change in the way politics is practised. Any politician, federal or provincial, who crosses to another party should be required to resign their seat and seek their constituen­ts’ approval.

To do otherwise is fundamenta­lly undemocrat­ic. It may serve the parties, but it does not serve the voters.

As the Liberals woo Mr. Schreiner with praise, they also convenient­ly gloss over major difference­s in party platforms. Electoral reform stands out as a major Liberal failure and an important Green priority.

The Liberals support the status quo on separate school funding; Greens favour one public school system. And while Ontario Liberals can claim some environmen­tal victories on their watch, they still see the environmen­t as just another ministry.

The Greens see it as the structure underpinni­ng the economy, housing, public health and social services — a critical distinctio­n. Despite their weakened status in the legislatur­e, the Liberals remain a powerful and highly centralize­d political machine.

It’s difficult to imagine how one person, a Liberal outsider, would be able to swoop in, win the leadership and unite the party when there are rumblings of discontent from some Liberals about looking outside their party for a fresh approach.

There is no denying that this flirtation could have a damaging impact on Greens’ fortunes.

Conversely, it offers Mr. Schreiner the opportunit­y to stay where he is, make the point that the Greens are not the Liberals and invite disaffecte­d Liberals unhappy with “politics as usual” to take a closer look at the Greens.

I, too, am impressed by Mr. Schreiner for the very reasons so many Liberals are. In the last provincial election, I voted Green for the first time and subsequent­ly joined the party. I am an active volunteer with the Greens.

I know it has been and will continue to be a long process for the Green Party to grow its base.

To Mike Schreiner I would say this: talk with the Liberals, talk to the other parties, explore possible future co-operation, but stay with the Greens and help build what you’ve started.

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