As a Green voter, you are likely motivated more by policies which seek to address climate change and mitigate environmental damage than by personality. But, if you have ever met and spoken with Sophie, it’s equally likely that you’re happy with her performance as your MPP and, given her strong environmental values, you might have been pleased were she to have been a member of your own party.
While environmental and climate action is an arena in which, whatever one does, there is always more that can and should be done, that doesn’t mean that we should denigrate or dismiss what has actually been done to date. Rather, it provides the foundation for what we do in the future. More specifically, recent Ontario Liberal governments have made important strides that exacted very significant political costs. April 15th was the fourth anniversary of the last coal ever burned in Ontario to generate electricity. That represents the largest single action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by any jurisdiction in North America, ever. The Green Energy Act jump-started a renewable energy industry in Ontario that today employs more than 15,000 people. Ontario is currently one of only four Canadian provinces which taxes carbon emissions. The proceeds of that tax are earmarked for a wide variety of conservation and other measures to further reduce emissions. These include: home retrofits for energy efficiency; new windows, lights and furnaces in public schools; improved energy efficiency at hospitals (the saving of which will be redirected into patient care); improved cycling infrastructure; energy-efficient repairs and retrofits for social housing units; incentives for businesses of all sizes to adopt new clean-tech and reduce emissions; and fast-charging electric vehicle stations across the province.
The key question for any environmentally-minded voter in the upcoming election should be: what can we do to preserve those gains? The priorities of a Doug Ford government would be radically different, viewed through an ideological lens which regards carbon taxes as unwarranted government tax grabs and which opposes any and all interference in the functioning of free markets. Recall the gutting of Canada’s fisheries and environmental protections by the Harper government once they had a majority. A Doug Ford government would undoubtedly side with developers over citizens and environmental groups seeking to protect environmentally sensitive habitats and endangered species. He has already demonstrated that bias in his recent promise to private developers open up a “big chunk” of Ontario’s Greenbelt for their use. While quickly retracted under pressure, his statement suggests that his personal world view is one of a get-rich-quick developer. From an environmental perspective, the long-term cost of a majority Ford government would be incalculable.
So how can we protect the environmental gains already made and the programs now in place, let alone do better going forward? Given how unlikely it is that any NDP or Liberal MPPs would vote in favour of a Doug Ford Speech from the Throne, he can only become Premier if he wins sufficient seats to form a majority government. From a Green perspective, the optimum outcome for this election would be a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority. Based on all of the local polling data available to date, the chances of Green candidate Robert Kiley being elected are mathematically miniscule. If you agree with the premise that we would be better off with a minority government, your best chance for your vote making a positive difference in the outcome would be to cast your ballot for incumbent MPP Sophie Kiwala.
Sophie is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has done for our community and fellow Kingstonians. In particular, Sophie’s proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.