Busy weekend celebrating the life and culture of Parkdale-High Park!

What an amazing weekend of cultural festivals in Parkdale-High Park. On Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the day at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival on Bloor St. West. The festival attracts some 300,000 people each year, and it seemed they were all squeezed between Runnymede and Jane. It was great to see so many young people. I thoroughly enjoyed the perogies, Ukranian burger and all the amazing food (I’ll stop there, as listing the full array of items I ate over the course of the day would be embarrassing!). It was also extremely educational to learn from the Toronto Ukrainian Film Festival about the life and culture of Ukraine and Ukrainian Canadians here in Toronto.

On Sunday we left Bloor St. for Roncesvalles where the 2011 Polish Festival was taking place. Again, a major focus of the weekend’s events were focused on bringing out the youth. We got to see The Gypsy Rebels, the Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble of Brampton and the New Direction Band. We were especially pleased by the new feature this year of the Military Garden, added in support of Canadian troops.  These two festivals are a vital part of the life of the Roncesvalles and Bloor West neighborhoods, but they are also an important contribution to the diversity of our amazing city. What a great way to celebrate the nearing end of summer!

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GPO Leader Mike Schreiner on expanding community Green energy opportunities

A great example of the Green approach emphasizing the connection between job creation, green energy and the empowerment of local communities and businesses:

Media Advisory – Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner, reaffirms commitment to prioritizing grid access for local energy projects at Alliston farm

“Local solar projects like the Vander Zaag’s highlight why scrapping green energy is bad for our communities,” said Schreiner “The Green Party’s plan for a community FIT and microFIT program benefits our local economy by generating income for farmers, businesses and home owners. Local renewable energy projects create jobs that keep money in our communities while producing energy without pollution.”

On the topic of highlighting local innovators, I encourage you to join Mike Schreiner and I this Thursday for a conversation with business owner Philip Playfair of Lowfoot. Lowfoot Inc. uses smart meter data to help consumers manage electricity, reduce hydro bills and earn rewards for it. Join us Sept 15 at 2pm at 71 Mackenzie Cres, Toronto, ON M6J 1T2

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Join me at the following upcoming events: Health care, Housing, Food, Education Policy!

1. Candidate forum on health care, affordable and safe housing and affordable and nutritious food, hosted by Parkdale Community Health Centre (PCHC), Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) and West End Food Co-op (WEFC), September 13th at 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  The forum will be held following the formal part of PCHC’s Annual General Meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Our location is St. John’s Parish Hall at 186 Cowan Avenue.

2. Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto, The Co-operative Housing Federation of Ontario, and Swansea Village Co-op Meet and Greet at Swansea Village Co-op at 77 Coe Hill Drive, 6-8pm

3. I will be joining a broad group from civil rights, teacher and trustee, and secular and religious groups, to speak at a public rally sponsored by the Canadian Secular Alliance on Sunday at 1:30pm at Queen’s Park to call for:
– an end to public funding for Roman Catholic separate schools, which violate religious equality rights of our citizens;
-support and protection of students of all sexual orientations in publicly funded schools by opposing prohibitions on gay student groups;
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Cheri DiNovo Should Show Consistency on Religion in Public School Issues

Libs, PCs dodge Muslim school prayer flap: “Ontario’s two major political parties may have fought their last election over faith-based school funding, but they refuse to touch the hot potato of religious services in public schools.”

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo believes children should be allowed to voluntarily use school space for religious prayers, but that full religious services are inappropriate in public schools. On this issue she is absolutely right and should be applauded for her courage in being essentially the only MPP to speak out.

A line should be drawn between students requesting use of space to organize on any issue that interests them – religion, philosophy, science, etc – and inviting an outside religious leader to lead students in a religious service. That kind of accommodation violates the charter rights of students of other religions by denying them access to parts of their public school building simply for being members of a different religion. It also violates the charter rights of teachers who, as in the case of Valley Park Secondary School, are asked to spend part of their day constructing a makeshift mosque in their school cafeteria, regardless of their own religion or lack thereof. Furthermore, regardless of the religion being granted this privilege, the fact that the teachers and school board officials are legally asked not to ask questions about the content of the religious service means that the public has no idea what messages are being sent to students within a publicly funded school building.

My only question is what Ms. Di Novo intends to tell students, parents and tax-payers who wonder how she can oppose muslim prayers in public schools while continuing to serve a party that – along with the PC and Liberals – defends full public funding to an entire faith-based school system, namely the Roman Catholic School Boards.  While paid for by members of all faiths and those of no faith, only teachers of a single religion can teach in the Roman Catholic School system, and only students of a single faith are guaranteed access to its primary schools.

Recently the Toronto District Catholic School Board amended its Equity and Inclusivity Policy to allow schools to ban Gay Straight Alliance student groups, a violation of the fundamental right of assembly that all Canadians enjoy, ruling instead that “when there is an apparent conflict between denominational rights and other rights, the board will favour the protection of the denominational right.”

Ms. Di Novo – a strong champion of gay rights and gay marriage – should be joining the Green Party in calling for the need to reform a system in which the Institute for Catholic Education – and its powerful Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario – can overrule our elected officials and the Ministry of Education to deny basic rights to students.

This issue is not about the muslim religion, nor the Roman Catholic religion. It’s about fundamental equality with respect to faith, sexual orientation, or other factors, and it’s about who ought to have authority in our schools. We believe that authority should rest ultimately with the Ministry of Education for the sake of providing a consistency to our children’s education across the province.

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Watch me on an MTV News show on “Riots”

MTV News invited young politicians to join a program on “Riots” for their show Impact. It records tonight, Sept 8, 8pm ET, although I’m not sure if it will air this evening or later this week. More info to come.

Here’s the facebook page

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Response to Emails from the supporters of the “Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Alliance”:

Response to Emails from the supporters of the “Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Alliance”:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the mental health and addiction crisis in Ontario.  I agree that it is best described as a crisis. Consider some numbers your organization probably knows well. 15-21% of children and youth in Ontario have at least one mental health issue, while only 25% of people with mood and anxiety disorders get treatment. From an economic point of view, mental illnesses and addictions cost Ontario at least $39 billion a year in funding and lost productivity.

But numbers alone fail to do justice to the situation. We, like you, want Ontario to deliver the best quality healthcare in Canada and the world, which includes support for mental health and addiction programs.

Our goal is a sustainable public health care system that provides every Ontarian with access to the quality health care they require, when and where they need it.

The December 2010 report to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care entitled “Respect, Recovery, Resilience: Recommendations for Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy” made recommendations in line with our Green Party beliefs and policies.

First, that we must acknowledge the importance of an all encompassing solution. Mental health and addiction is not just a health care issue. It’s deeply connected to social and economic problems. Citizens with mental illness are often denied housing, have trouble finding jobs, miss out on educational opportunities, and can find themselves falling through the cracks of the justice system.

All Ontarians, rural and urban, deserve quality community health services. The Green Party believes that no one knows the needs of a community like that community itself. That’s why we want to make sure communities have input into decisions on local healthcare services.

Bringing it closer to home, we need only look at the results of poorly implemented deinstitutionalization of the “Queen Street Centre for Addictions and Mental Health” and other such government institutions.

Although deinstitutionalization in favour of community care fits with our Green philosophy, it needs to be done properly. Since 2001 there’s been a ten fold increase in the number of community treatment orders issued, but no one has been following these discharged patients into the community to ensure they can access peer support and community advocacy services.

Towards that end, the Green party will re-prioritize funding to support doctors and other health professionals for family/community care clinics that are integrated with public health. This includes investing $1.6 billion over four years in family and community care clinics and practices that team doctors with nurses, other healthcare practitioners, including psychologists and counsellors.

We also understand that providing good, affordable housing to those who need it, when they need it, is intertwined with health care and poverty concerns. Like access to health care services, we believe the Ontario government needs to assist in the development of supportive housing in order to make it more accessible to those directly in need.

Another related area is education. Lots of children are put in special education programs when they actually need mental health assistance. We need to provide appropriate educational support for those just entering the school system all the way up to those struggling to retrain themselves to compete for jobs because of the time they’ve missed while getting help for health-related issues.

Finally, the “Respect, Recovery, Resilience” report calls for the establishment of a mental health and addiction council. Similar to the way the Ontario Cancer Care Plan works, we believe establishing a provincial body to oversee the reforms that are necessary and to ensure they are fairly and consistently available to all residents of the province is the right step.

These issues have touched me personally.  In my capacity as a community leader I’ve established a national initiative called Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a recovery program for alcoholics and others suffering from addictions which has proven successful for many individuals who were not able to find help elsewhere.

I’d like to leave you with a video address I prepared on this issue, which I invite you to circulate to your friends and supporters.


Thank you for taking the time to write to us. You can find out more about our platform at www.itstimeforgreen.ca, or by requesting that a booklet be sent to you by filling out this form here.


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Join us at our provincial campaign launch!

Please join me, our leader Mike Schreiner, and fellow Green Party candidates at our election campaign launch tomorrow at Queen’s Park at 9am!

September 2, 2011


Green Party set to launch largest election campaign ever on Wednesday September 7th
Joined by candidates, shadow cabinet critics and supporters, Mike Schreiner will launch the Green Party’s 2011 election campaign from Queen’s Park on Wednesday September 7th.  The Green Party was the first provincial party to launch their platform on May 24, offering a bold vision for building a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable Ontario.
Capitalizing on the momentum from electing the first Green MP in Canadian history, the Green Party of Ontario plans to address major issues currently confrontingOntarians including tackling rising energy costs, the difficult job market, and access to quality health care.
What: Mike Schreiner will launch the Green Party of Ontario 2011 Election Campaign
When: Wednesday September 7th, 2011
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Where:  Legislative Grounds, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON
Notes:  To arrange an in person or phone interview with Mike Schreiner or a Green Party candidate please contact Becky Smit. Following the press conference at Queen’s Park, Mike Schreiner will be traveling to events in Simcoe North and Bracebridge.
Becky Smit
Office: 416-977-7476
Toll Free: 888-647-3366
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