Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday February 1, 2023
Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner isn’t ruling out a bid for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals.
A group of high-profile Liberals — including former cabinet ministers Deb Matthews and Liz Sandals, and current Liberal caucus member Lucille Collard — released a letter Sunday urging Schreiner to join the party and run to be its leader.
“Our party needs to rediscover a politics of purpose and principle. We need to reach out to a new generation of voters. We need to open up to new people and new ideas and to embrace the kind of energy and enthusiasm that is driving grassroots activism and engagement across the province,” the Liberal group wrote.
“And that’s why we’re turning to you … We believe that your strong principle-based approach and your ability to connect and motivate activists — especially young people — is exactly what our party and province need now.”
Speaking to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday, Schreiner said he is mulling over the unusual proposal.
“My response is: give me time to think about this. Most importantly, give me time to consult with people — especially my constituents in Guelph and my friends and colleagues in the Green movement and people across the province — about the best way I can move forward to advance the issues I care about,” he said.
Schreiner had previously dismissed the idea when it was broached late last year, but he said the letter “really challenged” him to consider how he might “work differently” on issues like the climate crisis, housing affordability and protecting the Greenbelt.
The Liberal group argued that as Liberal leader, Schreiner would have a broader platform to rally Ontarians opposed to Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government.
“I think I owe it to people to think about it,” Schreiner told Metro Morning.
The party has been without a permanent leader since Steven Del Duca stepped down last year following a devastating election loss — the party’s second such result in a row.
Several Liberals have publicly said they’re exploring a run at the top job, including MP and former Ontario cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi, MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and current Ontario Liberal caucus member Ted Hsu.
he letter and companion DraftMike.ca website are not going over well with some Liberals.
Erskine-Smith wrote on Twitter that purpose and principle are indeed needed, along with “serious renewal” in the party.
“But we don’t need gimmicks, open letters, or Hail Marys,” he wrote. “There is no substitute for hard work and grassroots engagement. We need serious leadership. For a change.”
In response to those comments, Schreiner said Tuesday that he considers the letter “genuine outreach” but that he needs time to consider his options.
Schreiner has been the leader of the Ontario Greens since 2009 and in 2018 won the party’s first seat in the legislature.
His performance in the 2022 election debate was widely praised and he is well liked at the legislature, but despite the party’s high hopes of winning a second seat in that election, the Greens remain a caucus of one. (CBC)