Ontario Greens would close nuclear plant this summer

If his party were to win office, Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said it would close the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station this summer, invest in clean energy and buy more cheap power from Quebec.

Province could save $1.2B by closing Pickering plant, buying power from Quebec, leader says

Mike Schreiner is leader of the Green Party of Ontario. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would close this summer if the Green Party of Ontario formed a government, according to leader Mike Schreiner.

Speaking on CBC Radio's Ontario Today, Schreiner said while 1,900 jobs would be lost if the plant closed, others could be created by developing the plant's prime waterfront property.

The party would not close the Bruce or Darlington nuclear generating stations, Schreiner said. 

"There is no way we can shut down our nuclear plants tomorrow. It's just unrealistic because (nuclear) produces 70 per cent of our power," Schreiner said, though the party does oppose rebuilding such facilities. 

The Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have also said they would close the Pickering plant, but not until 2024. Like the Greens, the NDP has vowed to start decommissioning it this year.

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner said if elected, his party would close the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station this summer, well in advance of the Liberal government's plan to close it in 2024. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)
Magic money and fairy dust isn't going to pay for [transit and infrastructure].- Mike Schreiner, Green Party leader

Schreiner would also turn to Quebec to meet more of Ontario's electricity needs. Cheap power from Quebec would help bring down hydro prices for consumers, he said.

 The savings from both the plant closure and cheaper power from the neighbouring province would add up to $1 billion, Schreiner said, which could then be invested in making homes and businesses more energy efficient, Schreiner said. 

"Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table (and) paying their electricity bill," Schreiner said.

The party would move Ontario toward a "clean economy" with technologies like electric vehicles and water conservation technology.

"I want to see us get off of oil and gas. I'm just tired of the big oil companies, big oil and big gas, having a noose around our neck," Schreiner said. "And having such disproportionate control of our economy."

Toll roads, sex-ed, and mental health also part of platform

The Greens are also proposing a toll on 400 series highways to pay for expanded transit initiatives, but Schreiner couldn't say what the cost would be to drivers.

He said the party is looking at options like dynamic road pricing, which would mean charging more during rush hour and less in off-peak periods.

Politicians need to have honest conversations with people about issues including the cost of infrastructure, Schreiner argued.

"Magic money and fairy dust isn't going to pay for this," he said.

Schreiner also said he supports Ontario's updated sex-ed curriculum to teach children about their bodies, sexual misconduct and sexting,  but also the right of parents to remove their children from the classroom when the material makes them uncomfortable.

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner took calls on Ontario Today on Tuesday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Greens also have a four-year, $4.1-billion plan for mental health supports which Schreiner said it would fund through an increase in the tax mining profits.

While Schreiner doesn't expect to become premier anytime soon, he said the party's goal is to be elected in one to three ridings this election.

He said possibilities for a Green breakthrough include Parry Sound-Muskoka, Kingston and the Islands and University-Rosedale, as well as his own riding of Guelph.

With files from CBC Radio's Ontario Today