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Green Party leader May talks climate action at Guelph rally

Green Party Community Matters town hall attracts around 350 party faithful to event held at U of G on Monday

Elizabeth May is no stranger to Guelph.

The national Green Party leader has made numerous stops in the Royal City in the past couple of years, in part to help get Mike Schreiner elected as MPP last June.

Now the Green Party smells blood in Guelph's political waters again, with local Green candidate Steve Dyck looking to repeat Schreiner's success on the federal level and Liberal MP Lloyd Longfield.

May was here again Monday night as part of her Community Matters Tour, which so far has seen her bring the Green message to 26 cities across the country.

Part town hall, part pep rally, part recruitment drive, the event drew 350 people attended the event in the University of Guelph's Peter Clark Hall.

"It's time. It is time for the people of Guelph to do another special thing," said Schreiner in launching the event to loud cheers from the audience.

Dyck said Guelph "led the way" by electing Schreiner "and we can do it again .... it's time for a different kind of politics."

May touched on many of the Green Party's key platforms and then took nine questions form the audience.

The key message was that climate change is not a political issue.

"You can't negotiate with physics. Nobody's meeting us in the middle here. We must do what the science tells us we must do," May said. 

"We understand the science."

She recalled a sign she saw at a New York rally: "It's time to stop debating what is possible and start doing what is necessary."

"And that's where we are on this," May said. "This isn't about politics. It can't be about politics. Or we will continue to talk in trivial examples about incremental change because everybody will be too worried that telling the truth won't win them votes.

"But it's time to tell the truth," May said. "We will never put power ahead of principle."

The Green Party's climate plan is called 'Mission Possible,' which is their plan to deliver on Canada doing its fair share to battle global warming.

"We call it 'Mission Possible' for a reason. Because it's possible," May said. "It's not 'Mission Easy.' It says we're going to cut greenhouse gasses and we're going to cut our dependency on fossil fuels by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and zero by 2050."

Grown ups, May said, have a moral obligation to the children of the world.

"We may have stolen their future, but it's time to give it back."

May, who said she is "the most experienced said that by the 2023 election "it will be too late."

She said the goal for the upcoming election is a minority parliament where the Green Party holds the swing vote.

"For the first time in a long time, the Conservatives are split," she said, in reference to the new People's Party of Canada.

Questions from the audience included:

- How do Greens explain the hiring of former Liberal advisor and author Warren Kinsella? (May: 'The truth is he's playing a very minor role in the national office with a group that's going to respond to attacks on us.')

- What about affordable housing? (May: 'I don't know any community that isn't struggling with affordable housing .... we need more purpose-built rental properties ... we need to regulate and tax Airbnb'') 

- How do we get people to support change? (May: 'talk to everybody ... it's important for people to know we have hope and there is a plan.')

- Why can't the voting age be lower? (May: 'we want the voting age lowered to 16.')

- Why can't the Greens market climate emergency the way Doug Ford markets no climate emergency? (May: 'We don't have money. We're going into the 2019 election with less money than we had in 2015')

- We need a plan on immigration (May: 'our platform is fully on board with welcoming more immigrants, welcoming more refugees ... we will always keep our arms open wide to people from other countries')