Guelph MPP and Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner is not ruling out crossing party lines after a number of high-ranking Liberals courted him in a public letter on Sunday.
In it, they asked him to run to be the next Ontario Liberal leader, which he said could be a “bold way” to push back against the Ford government.
“And I do think we need to think big and bold about how we push back against the Ford government's agenda,” he told GuelphToday over the phone Tuesday.
As recently as December, Schreiner proclaimed he had no ambition to lead any party in Ontario besides the Green Party.
But the letter he received on Sunday challenged his way of thinking, making him wonder whether he could be approaching politics differently to better advance the issues he’s been fighting for as the Green Party leader.
“This was an extraordinary and unique letter, frankly, for a prominent group of Liberals to reach out to me in this way. And given the deep desire that so many have to really push back against the Ford government, I owe it to my constituents to think about it and consult with them.”
He said it could be an opportunity for more people to work together to champion the issues Ontarians care about, like protecting public healthcare, the Greenbelt, farmland and acting on the climate crisis.
“My ambition has always been to make a difference on these issues, and I’m doing that as the Ontario Green Leader and the MPP for Guelph,” he said. “And I think what struck me about this letter is, it’s asking me to consider a very unique way of doing politics differently, which is something I’ve always championed, and Green’s have always championed.”
But first, he wants to consult with his constituents.
“This is a decision that’s bigger than me personally, and it’s a decision I need to make with my constituents, with my colleagues and friends and the Green movement.”
He also plans to consult Liberals and people without party affiliations who “really care about the future of the province,” to determine where he can have the most impact.
“I really believe that my job as an elected representative is to put service above self. And I'm here to serve my constituents and serve the people of Ontario.”
Though it’s only been one day, he’s already started to hear back from people – some wanting him to go for it, and others not so much.
Though this would be a big move for Schreiner himself, he said it’s not really about him.
“It's really not about Mike Schreiner. I want to make sure whatever decision I make is the right decision for Ontario and the right decision for advancing the issues I've been fighting for as the leader of the Ontario Green Party.”
If he does slide over to the centre-left, he said his values won’t change.
“My values are my values, and I think people know where I stand on a whole variety of issues, and that’s not going to change.”
He said he will continue to fight for things like urgent action on the climate crisis, to address housing affordability, to expand mental health services and to defend public healthcare.
There is no time frame for the decision, he just wants to make sure he takes the time to “talk with a lot of people, and make sure people have the time and space to share their feedback with me.”
Regardless of what his decision is, he said he is committed to the Guelph riding.
“I’m consulting with people about how I should respond to this letter, I’m not consulting with people about not living in Guelph. I love Guelph.”