Green party leader Mike Schreiner not ruling out liberal leadership bid
Mike Schreiner, leader of Ontario’s Green Party, has not ruled 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 — issued a letter on Sunday urging Schreiner to join the party and become its leader.
“Our party must rediscover a politics of purpose and principles. We must reach a new generation of voters. We must open up to new people and new ideas and embrace the kind of energy and enthusiasm that drives grassroots activism and engagement across the province,” wrote the liberal group.
“And that’s why we turn 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 right now.”
In conversation with CBC Radios Subway morning On Tuesday, Schreiner said he is considering the unusual proposal.
“My answer is, give me time to think about this. Please give me time to consult people – especially my constituents in Guelph and my friends and colleagues in the Green movement and people across the province – about the best way to where I can move forward to advance the causes I care about,” he said.
Schreiner had previously dismissed the idea when it came up late last year, but he said the letter “really challenged” him to think about how he could “work differently” on issues such as the climate crisis, housing affordability and the protection of the Greenbelt.
The Liberal group argued that as a Liberal leader, Schreiner would have a broader platform to rally Ontario residents opposed to Prime Minister Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government.
“I think I owe it to people to think about it,” Schreiner said Subway morning.
The party has been without a permanent leader since Steven Del Duca stepped down last year after a crushing election loss – the party’s second straight result.
Several Liberals have publicly said they are investigating a run for the top job, including MP and former Ontario minister Yasir Naqvi, MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and current Ontario Liberal caucus member Ted Hsu.
Some liberals are pushing back
The letter and accompanying website DraftMike.ca are not well received by 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 involvement from the bottom up. We need serious leadership. For a change.”
In response to those comments, Schreiner said on Tuesday that he considers the letter “real reach” but that he needs time to consider his options.
Schreiner has been the leader of the Ontario Greens since 2009 and won the party’s first seat in the legislature in 2018.
His performance in the 2022 election debate has been widely praised and he is well liked by the legislature, but despite the party’s high hopes to win a second seat in that election, the Greens remain a caucus of one.
Schreiner grew up on a farm in the US and later moved to Canada with his wife, now living in Guelph with his family. He has said his background as a small business owner and in the non-profit sector over the past decade has helped him build the skills to build the Ontario Greens into a “viable lot”.