Ontario Greens seek to capitalize on Mike Schreiner’s debate performance

TORONTO — Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is trying to build on momentum today from the leaders’ debate, visiting the two ridings in which he sees the most potential for growth of his party.

All four major party leaders faced off Monday night in the official election debate, with Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford facing attacks on health care and education from the other three, but he stuck to his message of building more infrastructure, creating jobs and making life more affordable.

The PC leader is set to make an announcement today in Toronto and door knock later in the day in York South-Weston, the riding in which his nephew Michael Ford is running.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is set to make an announcement in Toronto about schools, then travel to the bellwether riding of Peterborough-Kawartha to talk about mental health supports in schools.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is set to talk in west Toronto about work-life balance.

Schreiner starts his day in the downtown Toronto riding of University-Rosedale making a youth and climate announcement with star candidate Dianne Saxe, the former environmental commissioner, then he’ll travel to Parry Sound-Muskoka to campaign and make an announcement on housing.

Schreiner mentioned both of those ridings in his final plea to viewers of the election debate Monday night. Schreiner is the incumbent in Guelph, where he won his party its first seat ever in the Ontario legislature in 2018, but the party sees potential in those other two ridings.

“We finally have a green MPP at Queen’s Park who has punched well above his weight over the last four years and I need more green MPPs from places like University-Rosedale, Dianne Saxe – by the way, Mr. Ford, you fired the wrong environment commissioner,” Schreiner said at the end of the debate.

“I need people like Matt Richter in Parry Sound-Muskoka because I wished I’d been there four years sooner so we were more prepared for the crisis that’s bearing down on us, the climate crisis.

Tim Abray, a teaching fellow in political studies at Queen’s University, said he was “deeply impressed” with Schreiner’s debate performance.

“He was extremely well prepared and he did a very good job of driving always to facts and to accountability, which if you’re trying to make headway in the political arena, those things are extremely important to focus on,” he said.

“By holding the other people in the debate to account, holding the other parties to account, and putting forward clear, very, very well-stated short expressions of things that he would do, facts about the problems that exist in Ontario right now and the way in which he would address them, it gives people something tangible to hang on to.”

Richter, a local teacher, is on his fifth run under the Green banner, and the party sees an opening in the riding with the Tory elected last time not seeking re-election and Richter achieving 20 per cent of the vote in 2018.

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