It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… At the annual general meeting of the local Green Party that was the message presented by the Two Mikes, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner and Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice. Morrice’s success was one of the bright spots in an otherwise tough election for the Greens, but Schreiner was optimistic and talked about his almost four years as a successful one-man caucus.
Schreiner, who will be standing for re-election in June, used his speech at the AGM to reflect back on being a successful thorn in the side of the Ford government, starting from his move in successfully pushing back against plans to develop the Greenbelt in 2018.
“It was the first moment I realized that while Doug Ford may move through a lot of legislation, and he has moved through a lot of legislation that I know those of us who care about the environment and about protecting communities are opposed to, it also made me realize that citizens connected and speaking out in building a movement with their elected officials can make a profound difference at Queen’s Park,” Schreiner explained.
Schreiner took a victory lap on some of his greatest hits like helping to give voice to local opponents of an MZO to support the construction of an Amazon warehouse at Duffins Creek, and the ongoing fight against the construction of Highway #413. He also recalled moments of trans-partisan collaboration between political parties and coming together to support small businesses during the pandemic.
“I remember sitting down with all the party house leaders, there was all this fighting happening, and I just said, ‘You know what? This may not be perfect, but we all have to come together,'” Schreiner recalled. “It was one of those moments that will never be in the papers and in the headlines because it literally was around the boardroom table at Queen’s Park, but moments like that are the kind of politics we need in Ontario, and I feel like that’s the kind of politics we bring to the table as a community.”
When Morrice took the mic he talked about how he wanted his tenure in the House of Commons to follow in the Schreiner example. “I’ve seen how in a majority Conservative government what one person can do by being respectful, by working hard, and by listening to what people actually care about,” Morrice said.
In October, Morrice won in Kitchener Centre with 34.9 per cent of the vote, and more than 10 points ahead of his nearest competition, Conservative candidate Mary Henein Thorn. Morrice’s victory in Kitchener is partially owed to the fact that the Liberal incumbent, Raj Saini, had to withdraw from the race mid-election, but it also came in spite of the collapse in nation-wide support for the Green Party, which lost more than four points in total support across Canada.
Morrice explained that he saw the need for more Green Party politicians in Canada while being part of the Canadian delegation at COP26 in Scotland, and how Steven Guilbeault brings a very different tone as environment minister versus his time as a Greenpeace activist.
“One of the things I noticed most profoundly was the distinction between the honesty of those outside of the formal negotiations, and the incremental doublespeak of those inside, referred to by Greta [Thurnberg] as ‘Blah, blah, blah,'” Morrice said. “This was both my source of hope, and if I’m honest with you, my source of profound disappointment.”
“When we get more people like Mike [Schreiner] elected, that’s when we have a chance to to push our government, and hold them accountable to follow the science on climate,” Morrice added.
Schreiner won in 2018 with 25 per cent of the vote, which was more than the Progressive Conservative and NDP candidates combined. Election Day in Ontario will be on or before June 2, 2022.
The local Green Party AGM was a hybrid event with several people taking part in-person at a meeting room in 10C Shared Space, and several more taking part on Zoom.