What a Green Win Would Mean for Toronto
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What a Green Win Would Mean for Toronto

Here's what the future might hold for our city if Mike Schreiner and the Green Party of Ontario form the next provincial government.

Photo from Mike Schreiner’s Facebook page.

There won’t be a Green government, of course—they even acknowledge it in their platform: “In the next session of the legislature, your Green MPPs will demand that government … [followed by a list of demands].” In fact, the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) will be lucky if it manages to send its first MPP to Queen’s Park in the upcoming election.

That said, the province might be lucky if it did. Leader Mike Schreiner and the Greens approach electioneering with a candour that likely comes at least in part from the knowledge they won’t win—they’re free to advocate useful ideas that more electable parties won’t touch.


Like the Big Three, the Greens promise to spend some $30 billion over the next decade to improve transit in the province (although their platform doesn’t indicate how much of that might go to Toronto). Unlike the other parties, however, the Greens would ask us to bite the bullet and pay for it via new revenue tools, potentially including “congestion charges, gas taxes and parking fees.” No one likes taxes, which is why no one else is publicly advocating for a new dedicated revenue stream. But such a revenue stream is probably the only way Toronto is going to get a Downtown Relief/East-West Express/Don Valley subway line in our lifetimes.


On this file, the Greens are the only party bold enough to call out the white elephant in the room: the Catholic school boards are an expensive anachronism that should be merged into the public system. The GPO estimate that eliminating duplication would save between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion annually, which would buy a lot of education. As Ontario’s biggest city, Toronto should receive a good portion of those funds.


The Greens are, of course, first and foremost green, so rather than building (or planning to build, then cancelling) new power plants, they would offer grants to homeowners for investments in energy conservation measures. The platform claims that the program would create more than 56,000 jobs, and could be paid for by “cancelling the refurbishment of expensive nuclear plants and purchasing low cost water power.” Good idea, but until more details are made available, we can’t determine whether it is, in fact, too good to be true. It’s also possible that giving up on nuclear power represents a triumph of ideology over practicality.


The GPO wants to double the Employer Health Tax exemption for small business from $450,000 to $900,000, and pay for that by bumping the corporate tax rate up by 1 per cent (the NDP is also in favour of a 1-per-cent corporate tax hike). It’s unclear, however, whether the hike on big business would raise enough money to cover the estimated $800-million annual cost of the increased exemption.

Social Issues

The Green Party is out-NDPing the NDP here, with a recommendation for a Guaranteed Annual Income for all Ontarians. Recognizing that it’s early days yet and the idea will for now likely serve as a lightning rod for comment-section trolls, the Greens suggest it’s something that should be looked at in the “longer term.” However, they say they would press immediately for a doubling of the Ontario Child Benefit for families living close to the poverty line, which would be paid for through the elimination of the current Liberal government’s rebate on electricity bills.

They also crank up the leftist rhetoric on the subject of natural resource extraction, opining that “It’s time that people who profit from our shared natural resources pay a fair price for the water, aggregates, and minerals they take.” This would be a complex negotiation, since it’s likely that the companies doing the extraction have a different concept from the Green Party of what’s “fair.”


Schreiner and the Greens want to eliminate the stranglehold that the Beer Store (owned by the multinationals behind Molson, Labatt, and Sleeman) has on beer sales in Ontario. They would allow smaller brewers, who currently pay high fees to sell their products through the Beer Store, to co-operate on distribution and to open their own stores. Notionally, such a change would promote local craft brewers and moderate prices through increased competition.

Is it time to start taking the Greens seriously? A Green government isn’t coming any time soon, but having a Green MPP or two might help introduce to the mainstream some ideas that are otherwise unlikely to see the light of day.

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  What a Liberal Win Would Mean for Toronto   What an NDP Win Would Mean for Toronto     What a Progressive Conservative Win Would Mean for Toronto