OSSTF Endorses Mike Schreiner, While Schreiner Boosts Parry Sound-Muskoka Green Candidate

Riding high after a strong showing at the leaders’ debate on Monday night, Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner received a key endorsement on Wednesday from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF). The provincial OSSTF also endorsed Parry Sound-Muskoka Green candidate Matt Richter, who Schreiner has been boosting the last few days as the best chance to double his caucus at Queen’s Park.

Schreiner and Richter joined OSSTF president Karen Littlewood at the Elora office of the District 18 local of the union, which represents teachers and education workers in Guelph and the surrounding area.

“Mike is active at Queen’s Park, working across party lines to be a strong advocate on issues such as climate action, affordable housing, protecting Ontario’s frontline healthcare workers, supporting small businesses and improving mental health,” Littlewood said. “Just this week on Monday, all of Ontario had the opportunity to see the type of genuine and heartfelt leader that Mike is with his sincerity coming through loud and clear in the leaders’ debate.”

Littlewood also praised Schreiner as being someone that “truly cares about making life better and more prosperous,” and for the feedback he offered on the OSSTF’s own election platform for education priorities in the next term of the legislature. Those priorities include increasing student-centred support like mental health, increased funding for education, smaller class sizes, and addressing the $17 billion infrastructure backlog in school repairs.

“I want to thank teachers and education workers for their job action in the year prior to the pandemic to fight back against the Conservative government’s attempts to increase class sizes and bring in mandatory online learning,” Schreiner said.

“Can you imagine how much harder the last two years would have been if teachers and education workers in this province hadn’t stood up and said ‘No’ to Mr. Ford’s attempts to increase class sizes and bring in mandatory online learning,” Schreiner added. “The last two years have shown us what a disaster that would have been, and why moving forward we cannot allow that to happen. We need the investments in public education to lower class sizes and to ensure that there is no mandatory or hybrid online learning.”

Richter, who’s a teacher in the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, was lauded by Littlewood for his advocacy for affordable housing and food security up north. Richter said that he’s experienced the “chaotic leadership” of the government under Doug Ford from the perspective of a teacher and a parent, and that he wants to restore a spirit of collaboration with education workers across the province.

“I’m here to say that we stand with the OSSTF and everyone in Ontario for this positive future,” Richter said. “Your values are our values, and we see a life moving forward where students don’t live in poverty, where students live in a society free of racism and oppression, where students truly can find a place to live with their families to call home, and when it comes time to get the mental health services they need, they’re provided under the care of OHIP.

“This is the way forward that we’re going to champion together,” he added.

Richter’s odds in Parry Sound-Muskoka look good to political observers inside and outside the Green Party. He was the Green candidate for the same riding in 2018 and finished with 20 per cent of the vote, a little less than two points behind the second place NDP candidate.

In 2022, the seat is open after six-term Progressive Conservative MPP Norm Miller announced his retirement, and it’s even more open after the Liberals pulled their candidate Barry Stanley just before the close of nominations last week. According to media reports, Stanley wrote a self-published book suggesting that homosexuality “may also be caused by depleted rebreathing occurring shortly after birth” along with other potentially homophobic commentary.

At a campaign event with Schreiner in Huntsville yesterday, Richter was very confident about his chances in the riding.

“I have a mighty team behind me here, but it’s going to take a lot of teamwork to keep growing,” Richter said. “We have over 300 volunteers, a thousand lawn signs on private property, we’ve already knocked on over 30,000 doors, and made phone calls to 30,000 voters, but we need to make sure that we keep building that momentum.”

The OSSTF’s endorsement of two Green candidates is slightly off brand for Littlewood and the union, which spent Wednesday morning endorsing the slate of four NDP candidates in Waterloo Region. District 18 on its own did previously endorse Schreiner saying that he was a “strong advocate and ally in the fight for a better and properly funded public education system in Ontario.”

Image courtesy of the Green Party of Ontario.

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