Coteau calls for fare-free transit, other bold commitments to fight climate change

Leadership candidate releases second policy paper, “A New Focus on a Green Ontario” 

TORONTO—Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Michael Coteau today unveiled his environmental plan, defining a bold, thorough, innovative approach to tackling climate change. 


“A New Focus on a Green Ontario”, the second of four major policy papers from the third-term MPP, pledges to make environmental and climate action the province’s top priority, and builds on his commitment earlier this week to overhaul ethics in government and earn back the trust of Ontarians.


“Climate change is an urgent, existential threat,” said Coteau. “We need to act in ways that empower Ontarians to reduce their carbon footprint and save their hard-earned money.”


Coteau’s wide-ranging, detailed plan of action commits to:


  • Make public transit fare-free at the point of access incrementally over a decade, as supported by evidence of what measures work best for getting Ontarians to increase their use of public transit;
  • Build up a regionally integrated transit and EV-charging network; 
  • Undertake a massive environmental retrofit of all public buildings;
  • Protect Ontario’s natural beauty through preserving and thoughtfully expanding the Greenbelt, restoring flood-mitigation programs, a Great Lakes and other major lakes strategy, and incentives to clean up contaminated land; 
  • End commercial water exploitation where it harms the environment; 
  • Implement a Right-to-Repair approach to reduce waste; and 
  • Plant one tree per Ontarian per year, or 140 million trees in a decade. 


“A green Ontario is not only an environmental imperative, it is a massive building block for constructing our future prosperity. I will guide our party and our government to ensure Ontario leads Canada’s transition to the multi-trillion dollar, low-carbon economy, and that we secure the jobs and benefits of diversification and innovation. Already, our country’s green-energy sector is outpacing the rest of our economy, and will generate more than half a million new jobs in the coming decade that we must mobilize to secure for Ontarians.

“The Ford Conservatives are running away from the climate crisis,” said Coteau. “Under my leadership, the Ontario Liberals will stand with Ontarians and fight to do our part to protect our planet.”

“Our actions must be bold and decisive, in the spirit of previous Liberal governments. The McGuinty Liberals didn’t close a few coal plants or trim just a handful of smog days—they pledged to end them, and then did so.”


In the leadership race, Coteau has the most donors and the second-most funds raised of any candidate, with more than three-quarters coming from donations of $100 or less. His campaign is gaining momentum with nearly 700 volunteers and a rapidly-rising tide of high-profile endorsements from former MPPs, current MPs, and municipal and community leaders all across the province. 


Michael Coteau immigrated to Canada as a child and grew up in Flemingdon Park, a working-class neighbourhood in North York. The first member of his family to graduate high school and university, he started his own small business, worked as a community organizer and head of a national nonprofit. He was elected to the Toronto District School Board three times and served as vice-chair of the board, championing digital tools in the classroom, equity strategies and community use of schools. Coteau was elected three times as Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley East, and served in multiple ministries where he was tasked with bringing people together to fix tough files, including supports for children with autism, reforming services for children in care, delivering a successful Pan-Am Games, supporting film and cultural economic development, and implementing an anti-racism strategy. He and his wife, Lori, are raising two young daughters.

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