The Green Party of Ontario isn’t short on ideas, but it is short on a few other things—namely ears to listen to its ideas. With all the fanfare and excitement you can expect from Ontario’s fourth party (a single confetti blast, one lonely bottle of champagne, and a Rod Stewart cover band), the Greens released their platform for the upcoming Ontario election. They hope someone will notice.
Most people won’t bother reading the Green platform. The Greens are, after all, a one-issue party, which makes them so very different from Tim “One Million Jobs” Hudak. The environment is the be-all and end-all of their existence. That they also enjoy smoking marijuana is of little consequence because that issue is up for federal debate. Who wants to read page after page of “save a tree” and “smoke a tree”? No one. It’s boring.
If that’s your attitude, it’s completely justified. But, in that case, you’re in for a real surprise. This Green platform tackles a whole bunch of issues, and the environment is only one of them. If you can believe it, schools and school boards are one of the Party’s main concerns this year. At the platform launch, Green Leader Mike Schreiner said that merging Ontario’s public and Catholic school boards could save $1.2 to $1.6 billion per year in administrative costs. That’s a fat sack of coin!
The prospect of saving more than a billion dollars per year sounds pretty appealing, right? Well, before you go wasting your vote on your local dreadlock enthusiast (Green candidate), consider a few things. What does the Green Party know about schools? Don’t most Greens homeschool their kids anyway? And isn’t the whole Green philosophy to live “as one with the planet”, without money or any of modern society’s material possessions? Can we trust Mike Schreiner’s estimate of cost-savings when most people in his party probably think that we should abandon our nuclear plants and transition to renewable qi power? Seriously, folks, these are questions you have to ask.
Schreiner said that the Greens plan to deliver a fiscally responsible government, and that “None of [their] demands will rely on fairy dust or magic pots of money”. This claim is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, Schreiner separates his party’s position from the mysticism that traditionally surrounds it. Secondly, it causes us to wonder why the Greens elected Schreiner to lead them. Did they want to grow up?
Regardless of Schreiner’s intentions, this platform launch raised more questions than it provided answers. What is the Green Party of Ontario? Has it lost itself, or is the public still thirty years behind its development? And where did it get the gall to tackle the schools issue: an issue that the Liberals, Conservatives, and the NDP seem reluctant to touch with a 39-and-a-half foot pole? Maybe this is a case of a little kid walking around the house in dad’s shoes. Then again, maybe this is an example of a Party that has matured into a contender while no one was looking. After all, we haven’t heard any promises from them about creating a hundred million jobs. For now, this is all supposition. However, on June 12, Ontarians can decide if the shoe fits.