‘They’re going to lose the youth vote’: Greens expel ecosocialist candidate on eve of leadership contest

Unilateral expulsion criticized by party members as anti-democratic and lacking in transparency
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Late Tuesday night Meryam Haddad, a candidate for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada, released a statement that she had been expelled from the leadership contest. Party members are set to begin voting in three days on Sept. 26.

According to Haddad’s statement, the Green Party alleges that she violated a section of the party’s rules that forbids members from “intentionally undertak[ing] any action which would bring the party into disrepute.” Haddad has appealed her expulsion.

Green Party Press Secretary Rosie Emery told Ricochet that “the party has no comment at this time on Meryam Haddad.”

The party also initially declined to comment on questions about the appeal process, but eventually did provide a statement from Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts saying "the appeal process is being expedited.”

Roberts declined to identify the members of the leadership contest authority that made the decision to expel Haddad, or the committee that will hear the appeal, citing a desire to “protect their impartiality,” although she identified herself as the chair of the committee.

The big question, why Haddad was expelled, remains unaddressed. However, Haddad’s sharing of a graphic produced by the B.C. Ecosocialists, a provincial party newly formed to take on the NDP and Greens from the left, appears to have led to her ouster. The federal party has refused to elaborate on its reasons for expelling her.

In a tweet Wednesday, Haddad wrote, “I have [been] told my removal was related to my failure to endorse Sonia Fursteneau’s party, despite past precedent and their separate status.” In an op-ed published late today by Passage, Haddad wrote that her ouster was a result of sharing the graphic.

Fursteneau leads the provincial Green Party in B.C., where an election has just been called. Haddad added that she “did not endorse the BC Ecosocialists [when she shared the graphic]. I intended to only comment on policy."

Unlike some other federal parties, the Green Party has no formal connection to any provincial party and does not require its members to support affiliated parties at the provincial level. In the last federal election, the Green Party leader at the time, Elizabeth May, supported independent candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould over a candidate from her own party in the riding of Vancouver Granville.

Haddad did not respond to emails seeking comment by publication time.

Online voting for the federal Green leadership race begins Saturday and runs through Oct. 3. It is unclear if the appeal will be decided before voting begins.

A ‘threat to the status quo’

In her statement, Haddad attributed her expulsion to a pattern of attacks by the party establishment on what she described as “our movement” and herself personally.

“Let me be clear. This is an attack on democracy, youth, progress and ideas that threaten the status quo.”

Haddad highlighted the fact that outgoing party leader Elizabeth May retweeted an attack on her on Monday, which accused her of “stabbing your provincial cousins in the back,” and argued that Haddad does not “deserve to be leader of anything.”

This isn’t the first time during the campaign that May has been criticized for what some see as attempts to thwart the democratic process. Earlier this year May accused Justice Greens, a youth-oriented advocacy group seeking to sign up young people and involve them in the leadership process, of being anti-democratic and using the Green logo without permission. She eventually apologized and withdrew those comments.

Other candidates respond

Ricochet reached out to all seven other candidates to seek comment on the expulsion. Glen Murray declined to comment, while Annamie Paul, David Merner and Andrew West did not respond to phone messages and emails by publication time.

Candidates Amita Kuttner, Dimitri Lascaris and Dr. Courtney Howard all expressed uncertainty over the nature of the allegations, and a desire for due process and transparency.

“We are refraining from stating a direct opinion to not interfere in the appeals process,” Kuttner told Ricochet, “because we want that to happen as rigorously and independently as possible. But I will say the Green Party has had issues with discrimination and abuse in the past, and what is most important to me is that our process is transparent and fair. I have really valued Meryam’s voice in this leadership race, the perspectives she has brought, and I appreciated getting to know her. I hope that in whatever they do, they are fair.”

Lascaris provided Ricochet with a statement in which he described Haddad as “outspoken on a range of vitally important issues” and said “her voice has enriched the debate.”

“It is never easy to be outspoken, but it is especially difficult for someone like Meryam, a young candidate who comes from a marginalized community. I hope she will be allowed back into the race after being accorded due process in her appeal.”

In a statement sent to Ricochet by her campaign, Dr. Courtney Howard said she didn’t have enough details to be able to comment, but added that Haddad had “brought courage, light and intelligence to the race.”

“I really have no idea what the actual complaint is,” added Kuttner, “but there are from my perspective other people that have probably legitimate [complaints] against them, and if the party decides to expel Meryam I would say they should probably look at expelling some other people as well.”

Grassroots members respond

Party members across the country have expressed anger and frustration at the party’s decision.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Meg Ruttan Walker, a Green Party member in Kitchener, Ontario. “So many people joined the Green Party hoping for something new. We need a labour movement that is both ecologically and socially minded. I was hoping to find that from the Green Party in this leadership race, and they’re undermining it.”

“She’s been accused of putting the party’s reputation in disrepute? That’s civility politics,” added Ruttan Walker. “I don’t even know what that means. They’re just dragging her name around. They’re going to lose a lot of new members, they’re going to lose the youth vote. It’s very disappointing. They could have had so much more than this.”

A Green Party member in Vancouver, René Allain, says he saw Haddad share a poster for the B.C. Ecosocialists on social media. But “I never saw it as saying you should vote for the ecosocialist party, I didn’t even know that existed. I thought it was her pointing out the Greens could do better.”

“My mom lives in Quebec and is pretty big into the Greens, and my friends as well, none of us understand why this happened. It just seems like an attack on someone who is making a point. [Haddad] didn’t bring disrepute on the party, but this [expulsion] is certainly bringing the party into disrepute, at least among young voters.”

“I’d like to see the party retract her expulsion. If the Green Party members don’t want her as leader, that’ll be reflected in the vote. But just taking her out of the race like this doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem democratic. Let the members decide.”

Patrick, a Green Party member from Alberta who didn’t want his last name used, said it’s not the time to expel anyone. “Three days before voting begins? It’s not a good process.… It seems she’s being expelled for her non-endorsement of the B.C. Green Party, but whatever the reason I think at this late stage in the leadership race it should be left to the members to decide whether or not her actions or behaviour is becoming of a potential leader of the Green Party.

I hope to see Meryam’s name back on the ballot.”

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