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By Jonathan Bradley
The race to find a new leader of the Green Party of Canada has become mired in controversy with one candidate banned for allegedly making “super racist comments” while another candidate accused of a “vile anti-Semitic smear” has been allowed to run.
Meanwhile, another candidate has withdrawn from the contest accusing former leader Elizabeth May of meddling in the race.
Nine people are running to replace May who stepped down in November after a decade as leader.
In a statement, the Green party announced that Dylan Perceval-Maxwell, an environmental activist from Montreal, would no longer be a contestant for the leadership after making “inappropriate” comments.
During a televised debate organized by TVO he said the police should “give $20 to every person of colour they stop.”
Meryam Haddad, another Green party leadership candidate from Montreal, called the comment “super racist.” She said “as a person of colour, I find your comment very, very offensive.”
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Perceval-Maxwell later said in a Facebook post that he proposed the idea because statistics showed people of colour were more intercepted by the police than white people.
The Green party disqualified him from running saying in a statement, “The party’s Leadership Contest Authority (LCA) found that several recent statements by Mr. Perceval-Maxwell were inappropriate and were not aligned with the party’s core values, in particular respect for diversity.”
In an interview, Perceval-Maxwell said he regretted making the comments.
“I apologize for suggesting that reparations should be given directly to people of colour when they are stopped and I accept the consequences of my mistakes,” he said.
“There are many other ways to incentivize the police to engage in less racial profiling. I understand why people found that part of my idea offensive.”
The incident comes after Dimitri Lascaris, a Green party leadership candidate from Montreal, was first rejected by the vetting committee on May 26. But the Green party said in a statement on June 2 that it had reversed its decision to exclude Lascaris from the leadership race.
Lascaris attracted controversy when he said in a tweet in 2018 that Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt “are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own Prime Minister and their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet at the time that the comment was a “vile anti-Semitic smear.”
Lascaris, a lawyer, used to be the justice critic in the Green party’s shadow cabinet, but he was removed in 2016 for being critical of former Green Party of British Columbia leader Andrew Weaver.
In a statement, Lascaris said he was pleased to be in the Green party leadership race.
“I am honoured to be part of this leadership contest with such an accomplished and talented group of candidates,” he said.
Judy N. Green, a Green party leadership candidate from Nova Scotia, was rejected by the vetting committee on June 2 for “accusations not accompanied by evidence.” The Green party said in a statement on June 10 that it had reinstated Green as a candidate.
Green said she was “legally forbidden from disclosing the details of the process or the specifics.”
However, she said she felt there had been problems with the leadership race.
“The rules have proved to be ambiguous and this has led to different interpretations,” she said in an interview. “There has also been a lack of transparency in the process that the membership has a right to demand. I believe that a lot of the confusion, frustration and speculation would have been avoided had we had a more transparent, member driven and open process from the start.”
Alex Tyrrell, a Green party leadership candidate from Montreal who has withdrawn from the leadership race, said there was meddling going on.
“Elizabeth May has transformed the Green Party of Canada into a top down organization in which she controls and micromanages virtually all aspects of the federal organization,” said Tyrrell. “For several years she has been speaking openly about what she calls succession planning and said back in 2016 that she would only step down from the leadership once she had found someone to take over.
“Now rather than stepping back she has remained in control of the party, got her husband and a slate of hand picked candidates elected to federal council in order to consolidate her power within the party.”
Tyrrell said there had been problems with the leadership race such as debates being suppressed, progressives such as Lascaris and him being targets of the party establishment, and the party’s messaging drifting closer to the centre.
Online voting, available to eligible members, will be open from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3.