Ontario Greens come up short in Parry Sound Muskoka despite vigorous campaigning

WATCH ABOVE: Global News declared shortly after polls closed on Thursday that Doug Ford would form a majority government, with Conservatives ahead in the popular vote. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are expected to win at least 63 seats.

The leader of Ontario’s Greens says his party is “here to stay” despite failing to capture the riding the party saw as its best hope of a second seat in Thursday’s election.

Mike Schreiner, who was re-elected in Guelph, says the close race in Parry Sound-Muskoka demonstrated the growing support for the Green Party in the province.

“To see a Green candidate so close, so close in a riding that has always gone blue tells you that there is Green momentum, there is a Green wave building across this province,” Schreiner said in his election night speech.

“It’s not only in Guelph, it’s in ridings all across Ontario.”

Polling suggested the Greens and the Progressive Conservatives were in a tight race in Parry Sound-Muskoka, a riding Schreiner visited many times over the course of the campaign. However, Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith ultimately took the riding for the Tories.

In a phone interview, Schreiner said he thinks his party ran a good campaign, though there’s one thing he would’ve done differently.

Read more:

Ontario election results 2022: Poll-by-poll riding vote map

“Not get COVID,” he said with a laugh, referring to his positive test mid-way through the race, resulting in several days of virtual campaigning.

“We saw an increase in our vote total across the province and we ran a number of strong campaigns and I think we’re just gonna continue building on that.”

Cristine de Clercy, a political scientist at Western University, said in her view the Greens had “a really good campaign, frankly.”

“They presented a very strong, diverse, thoughtful, forward-looking platform,” said de Clercy. “I think Mr. Schreiner in particular has worked to broaden the Greens’ appeal to people not only in urban areas but also in rural areas and suburban areas.”

This election marked the first time Schreiner got to spar with the other leaders during the campaign’s debates. He had a fiery presence during the televised face off on May 16, at one point asking Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford: “Mr. Ford, have you talked to a nurse lately?”

Schreiner made such a strong impression that his name was trending on Twitter in Canada, and it even prompted an on-air endorsement from Ford himself.

Read more:

Ontario election 2022 results: Parry Sound-Muskoka

De Clercy said his appearance at the debate was impressive.

“In the leaders’ debate, Mr. Schreiner showed he has excellent communication skills, he really managed to present and defend his party’s position and also critique the other leaders in a very politically mature way,” she said.

“He didn’t look like the rookie leader at his first debate with the big parties at all.”

De Clercy said that one of the “systemic problems” faced by the Greens is how to present themselves as the most trustworthy option for progressive voters.

“And while Mr. Schreiner’s platform, I think, puts him and his party in a much better competitive position with the other progressive parties, obviously tonight’s results showed they still haven’t quite figured out the magical formula, the way to reach those voters who might ultimately consider casting a vote for him.”

The Green leader became his party’s first and only representative after winning his riding in 2018. That success came after building support in his three previous runs for office.

Schreiner has since stood out at Queen’s Park as an effective critic on the environment, the government’s COVID-19 response and more, saying that the party’s priorities overlapped with his own ideals when he first made the jump into politics.

This year, the Ontario Greens ran their biggest-ever election campaign, with $228,803 raised in donations by March, compared with $94,695 at the same time in 2018.

The Greens’ plan for transitioning the economy amid climate change set a goal to both halve carbon pollution by 2030 and reach net zero by 2045.

The plan to reduce emissions included a proposal to phase out the sale of new gas and diesel passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks and buses by 2030, and to transition homes and offices to net zero by 2040 using a combination of solar and heat pumps.

The Greens also made promises of $10,000 rebates for electric vehicles and pledged to build more charging infrastructure, proposing an annual $2-billion fund for municipalities to adapt to climate change.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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