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Veteran Ontario Liberals want Green MPP Mike Schreiner to be their leader

From link.

Some veteran Ontario Liberals want Green Leader Mike Schreiner to cross the floor and seek the leadership of the Grits — but he’s not interested.

In an open letter to Schreiner to be released Sunday, 39 Liberal activists plead with the Guelph MPP to consider entering their undeclared leadership contest.

“We are a group of Ontario Liberals who are deeply concerned about the state of politics in Ontario, and more broadly, about the future of our province and our country,” says the letter, signed by former cabinet ministers Deb Matthews, Greg Sorbara, Liz Sandals, and John Milloy as well as Kate Graham, who finished third in the 2020 Liberal leadership, MPP Lucille Collard (Ottawa-Vanier), and ex-leader Lyn McLeod.

“That is why we are taking this unprecedented step — to reach outside our ranks to urge you, the leader of another party — to join the Ontario Liberals and run for our party’s leadership,” it continues.

“Our party needs to rediscover a politics of purpose and principle … that’s why we’re turning to you.”

But Schreiner, 53, who hadn’t seen the missive, reiterated he is “not running for Liberal leader.”

“I’ve heard rumours that there’s a letter out there. I can’t comment on a letter I haven’t seen,” he said in an interview Thursday with Star Queen’s Park columnist Martin Regg Cohn.

“I would say what I said in December: I have no plans to run for Liberal leader and I haven’t seen an argument to change my mind.”

The unusual appeal comes even though at least four current Liberal MPPs and MPs are actively campaigning to be leader — generating interest across the province.

MPPs Mitzie Hunter, 51, (Scarborough-Guildwood) and Ted Hsu, 58, (Kingston and the Islands) and MPs Yasir Naqvi, 50, (Ottawa Centre) and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, 38, (Beaches-East York) are exploring leadership bids.

Hunter is a former education minister; Naqvi was attorney general and a past party president; Hsu is a one-time MP who made the successful jump to provincial politics in the June 2 election; and Erskine-Smith is an up-and-comer in the federal party.

All four are awaiting the timelines and rules for the leadership race before officially kicking off campaigns.

There are also some party stalwarts trying to draft Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, a former Liberal MP, into the contest.

The Liberals are holding their annual general meeting in Hamilton on March 3-5.

On Friday on Parliament Hill, Naqvi told reporters “there are a group of volunteers who are helping me in this process, which is extremely important.”

One senior Liberal, speaking confidentially in order to discuss party deliberations, questioned the wisdom of publicly asking Schreiner to lead the Grits.

“Don’t these guys realize how much this undermines our party?” the veteran Liberal said.

“It makes it look like we don’t have any candidates from inside — and once Schreiner says ‘no thanks,’ then what?”

After governing Ontario from 2003 to 2018 — under former premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne — the Liberals have twice been wiped out in elections by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives.

They only hold eight seats in the 124-member legislature, below the 12-MPP threshold for official party status, which would give them additional funding for staff and other resources.

That compares to the 83 seats won by the Conservatives and the 31 by the New Democrats, who actually finished third in the popular vote, slightly behind the Liberals.

Earlier this month, a Liberal campaign post-mortem recounted a slew of problems, including a lack of cash and volunteers, incoherent policies, and an “unpopular” leader in Steven Del Duca.

How about a Green-Liberal coalition?
It’s not a state funeral, per se… those are organized by the federal government. It’s a birthday/funeral extravaganza for one of Doug Ford’s most useful tools.

I would assume it is more like the Funeral for David Onley than anything else.

I am not expecting something like Jacks funeral.
Metrolinx is supposed to be cutting trees down @ Osgood Hall on Saturday. There is a protest @ Osgood Hall at 5.30pm Friday (tomorrow). Apparently food, warming stations, politicians will be there.
The Ford developing the Greenbelt Fiasco has reached the pages of the New York Times:

Obviously, I oppose the Greenbelt being opened up, though I confess to finding the allusion to Central Park a bit odd.
The Ford developing the Greenbelt Fiasco has reached the pages of the New York Times:

Obviously, I oppose the Greenbelt being opened up, though I confess to finding the allusion to Central Park a bit odd.
Headline grabber.

Doug Ford government interfered in Metrolinx tree removal communications, emails show

From link.

Doug Ford’s government directed Metrolinx to leave two Toronto New Democrat MPPs off a notice sent to city and federal politicians about tree removals in their jurisdictions, according to internal emails obtained by the Star that cast doubt on the independence of the transit agency.

In a series of emails between the province and the transit agency, Ministry of Transportation staff overrode Metrolinx’s recommendation to include New Democrat MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam and then official Opposition leader Peter Tabuns — two vocal critics of Metrolinx — on notices about the need to remove trees in their ridings to allow construction of the new Ontario Line subway, with staff saying the order came from minister Caroline Mulroney’s office.

Communications staff at the ministry also ask Metrolinx in the emails to remove from construction notices the estimated number of trees that will be taken down, at the request of Ford’s office.
The emails shed light on behind-the-scenes communications between the province and Metrolinx, which has been positioned as an arm’s-length agency since its creation in 2006, but which has increasingly been criticized for its apparent cosiness with Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative administration. Previous reporting from the Star’s Ben Spurr revealed Metrolinx is not permitted to communicate with the public about key issues without government approval.

“This is the public’s money, and the public would expect public accountability and public notice,” said Wong-Tam, MPP for Toronto Centre and a former city councillor.

Wong-Tam said they first heard the trees were being chopped down in Moss Park on social media, which they said was unusual, because Metrolinx typically notifies them about construction or other matters affecting Toronto Centre constituents.

In a statement, Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Dakota Brasier said, “Over the past two years, Metrolinx has been actively engaging with Moss Park and Osgoode Hall area residents, businesses, community groups and elected officials.”

Brasier added that “construction notices are one of many means used to provide information and updates as we build critical infrastructure. Metrolinx conducts frequent briefings, updates and meetings — which elected officials are invited to participate in.”

Ford’s deputy chief of staff for media did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Star.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Wednesday about the tree removals, Ford said, “I just want to build infrastructure. (The Ontario Line is) going to carry millions of people over decades. We’re going to plant many more trees.”

Metrolinx is a Crown agency that oversees transportation across the Greater Toronto Area, including GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express. It is also responsible for building the 15.5-kilometre Ontario Line, which is scheduled to be completed in a decade or so.

Critics of Metrolinx say the transit agency is doing the Ford government’s bidding, as opposed to impartially evaluating multibillion-dollar projects and implementing the best transit policy based on evidence.

“As a Crown agency, the minister’s office works closely with Metrolinx, which has been the process for over a decade,” said Brasier.

Residents of affected communities have taken issue with the way Metrolinx handles construction, accusing it of failing to consult people at the centre of its plans, even when they stand to significantly disrupt the environment, businesses and communities.

Metrolinx’s plans to cut down dozens of trees across the city to make way for Ontario Line construction have drawn fire from residents, who argue that the transit agency can move forward with its plans without destroying treasured green space.

On Sunday, Moss Park residents held a funeral for the 61 mature trees that were cut down for a new station. Also last weekend, Metrolinx was forced to temporarily pause the chopping of trees at Osgoode Hall after an Ontario Superior Court justice granted an interim injunction.

In a statement, Metrolinx said its community engagement teams “take a multi-channel approach to sharing information with the community, stakeholders and elected officials about our projects and have engaged these individuals a number of times about this project.”

But a series of emails obtained by the Star offer insight into the province’s relationship with Metrolinx.

The email chain, which begins in December 2022 and ends in January, is a back-and-forth between roughly a dozen people at Metrolinx and the province discussing the communications plan regarding tree removals for the Ontario Line, specifically in Moss Park, Riverside and Leslieville, and the Don Valley.

In the email chain, a communications staffer for the Ministry of Transportation asks that MPPs Tabuns and Wong-Tam be removed from the notice to elected officials.

In response to the request, which is explained as coming from the minister’s office, a Metrolinx spokesperson replies that it’s “customary” to include local MPPs on such notifications, and asks to discuss the matter further.

After the two sides appear to discuss this matter over the phone, the staffer replies to the thread:

“I discussed it further with the (minister’s office) but, after considering, they have confirmed that the direction is to not notify the MPPs and only notify the councillors/MPs.”

Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth, has long supported calls by his constituents to bury the Ontario Line in Riverside, to preserve the area’s parks and keep neighbourhoods quiet. As it stands, the Ontario Line will run above ground for about two kilometres along the joint rail corridor shared with GO Transit.

Tabuns, who led the NDP on an interim basis until last weekend when the party officially elected Marit Stiles, has also spoken out about what he sees as the politicization of Metrolinx.

“Metrolinx is really just a front,” he said at an event organized by advocacy group Save Jimmie Simpson in January 2021, alongside a slide with a photo of Ontario’s legislature.

“The decisions are made in this building, at Queen’s Park, by the premier, by his cabinet.”
Doug Ford's vow of transparency... NOT!
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