Over 70 people got together inside an Edinburgh Road South store front on Saturday afternoon. They were cheering, they were excited, they were ready to get others to share their enthusiasm about a candidate. It was a political rally! Live and in-person and the first one of its kind locally in this pending provincial campaign season. The candidate was Mike Schreiner, and Team Green is eager to knock on doors to get him re-elected.
And yes, everyone was wearing a mask. At least they were if they weren’t speaking on the stage, or enjoying some of the free food. Otherwise, there were all the usual activities of a political campaign in so-called normal times: The kids were making buttons, people were signing up to volunteer, and old friends from the political trenches were catching up.
And then the candidate spoke.
“I can feel the energy in the room today, and I can tell you it has been an honour, a deep honor, to serve the people of Guelph at Queen’s Park over the last four years,” Schreiner said. “I’ve learned so much in the last four years, I’ve learned that our promise and commitment to doing politics differently actually works.”
The opening of the campaign office, which sits at 265 Edinburgh Road South, doubled as a campaign rally, one recorded for a future campaign video that will be released once the writ is drawn up. It took people a moment to get back into the rhythm of a rally, you don’t normally break into thunderous applause on Zoom or shout at the top of you lungs. The pandemic had to be acknowledged.
“We’ve all learned collectively over the last two years, the revelation of the cracks in the systems that support our communities and care for each other,” Schreiner explained. “I can tell you right now that Doug Ford might think that COVID is over, but Ontario Greens know that we will always follow the science and respect the public health advice, whether it’s on COVID or climate, to take the actions we need to make the investments in our community to care for each other.”
Schreiner took a victory lap on legislative successes like sponsoring the Reserved Parking for Electric Vehicle Charging Act, and on advocacy successes like protesting the now defunct Amazon warehouse project on the Dufferin’s Creek wetlands.
While Schreiner was reminding his supporters about his accomplishments, it was also a tease about what more Green MPPs could do if there was a real Green Party caucus in Queen’s Park.
“Mike’s a great example of what some Green leadership can do in the community,” said Wellington-Halton Hills Green candidate Ryan Kahro who’s running to unseat long-time PC rep Ted Arnott. “I think we have to break down the challenges in our community, the needs of our community, and create awareness, education and support around how the Green policy is going to be very effective, very supportive, and very helpful to our community.”
Wayne Mak, who was just acclaimed by Green voters in Kitchener Centre last week to be their candidate, is inspired by two different Mikes, Schreiner and Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice, and he hopes to continue their success though he knows that he has to work hard for it.
“Absolutely, I can’t take anything for granted, because it’s still its own campaign,” Mak said. “Although it helps having such great examples locally, it’s still a lot of work, and there’s a lot of ground game that needs to be covered. I’ve seen how [Schreiner and Morrice] structured their campaigns and how so much of it is based around talking to everyone, so I will be meeting as many neighbours as possible.”
“Watching Mike today and listening to him was a reminder of how he’s just so deeply ingrained in the community, and how he’s so in touch with what’s happening,” added Carla Johnson, who is running to succeed True Blue MPP Belinda Karahalios in Cambridge. “I think the biggest thing that people in Cambridge want to know is if they have a candidate that’s going to be involved in the community and will listen to them. Somebody who is a champion of the community, and who loves Cambridge.
Back in Guelph, Schreiner’s campaign managed said that she believes that the last four years have put to rest any myth that a “caucus of one” is powerless to effect change.
“He can do it, he’s shown he can do it,” Dianne Dance said. “Ideally, we would like to have more MPPs, and I think we want to support him in increasing that caucus, but what one man can do has been phenomenal and that’s going to make this campaign easy.”
Like Mak though, Dance is focused on the campaign basics. “We are approaching this like it is a first time and we are taking nothing for granted. We are we are going to earn every vote just like we did in 2018,” Dance added. “We have so many people out today, and the enthusiasm and support is beyond what I was hoping for.”