Invite declined: Green Leader Mike Schreiner won't run for Ontario Liberals
Green Leader Mike Schreiner said Tuesday that he would not leave the party to run for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals, weeks after a group of veteran Grit insiders publicly encouraged him to do so.
In a video statement posted to Twitter, Schreiner thanked the cohort of 40 Liberals who signed an open letter urging him to consider a leadership bid, and said he was "deeply moved" by support from Ontarians who wanted him to "unite the progressive movement."
But after taking time to speak with Green Party members and his constituents in Guelph, Schreiner said, he will not try to cross the floor.
"There is so much unfinished work to make our province, our economy and our communities climate ready. Work that I am determined to keep doing as the Green leader," he said in the video address, released shortly before the Legislature returned after a two-month break.
"Building the Green movement and electing more Greens will make it clear that the status quo is unacceptable," he continued.
Schreiner also took the opportunity to criticize Premier Doug Ford, accusing him of scheming to pave over the Greenbelt and saying Ford has shown an "utter disregard" for climate action, affordable housing and Ontarians who rely on disability payments.
In their January letter, the group of high-profile Liberals — including former cabinet ministers Deb Matthews and Liz Sandals, and current Liberal caucus member Lucille Collard — said the 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," they wrote.
Schreiner had initially shrugged off the idea when it was first floated, informally, in December of last year. But he told CBC Radio's Metro Morning that the letter had "really challenged" him to consider how he might "work differently" at Queen's Park.
In a statement Tuesday, interim Liberal Leader John Fraser said he is not "in any way surprised" by Schreiner's decision.
"I have gotten to know Mike Schreiner over the last 4 and a half years, and we have worked well together," Fraser said. "I will continue to work collaboratively with Mike to hold the Ford Conservatives to account."
Fraser added that more than 1,500 Liberal members have signed up to attend the party's annual general meeting later this year, where they will determine the details of the impending leadership contest.
The Liberals are trying to rebuild after two consecutive electoral catastrophes, with the party currently holding just eight seats in Legislature.