Questions swirl after Green Party reinstates leadership candidate Meryam Haddad

E. McIntosh
Green Party leadership candidate Meryam Haddad, a Montreal immigration lawyer, has been allowed to return to the race to succeed Elizabeth May. Handout photo

September 24th 2020

The Green Party of Canada reinstated leadership candidate Meryam Haddad on Thursday, two days after it kicked her out of the race for publicly criticizing the B.C. Greens.

The party declined to divulge details on why it originally expelled Haddad, a Montreal immigration lawyer who is running as a socialist, and why it accepted her appeal of the 11th-hour decision. Mail-in voting in the race to become the next leader of the federal Greens has already begun, and online voting will start Sept. 26.

“We are still in the leadership race,” Haddad said in a video posted to Twitter, thanking supporters.

“Change is possible when we unite, when grassroots movements happen.”

Former party leader Elizabeth May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, stepped down as leader after the last federal election. The race to be her replacement comes at a pivotal time for the party as the environmental movement gains momentum, and after the Greens picked up three seats in Parliament in the 2019 election, their best result ever.

In a statement Thursday, the party said it expelled Haddad “following inappropriate endorsements and comments,” but reinstated her after its leadership contest committee “took into consideration mitigating circumstances.”

The party didn’t immediately respond to questions from Canada’s National Observer about what comments and circumstances it was referring to.

Haddad said the party took issue with her statements about British Columbia’s provincial election, which was announced this week.

In a tweet Tuesday, Haddad had said she would only endorse the B.C. Greens if they moved further to the left. She also posted a graphic advertising the B.C. Ecosocialists ⁠— a new political party that says it is further left than the province’s NDP and “greener than the Greens.”

Haddad denies that she was endorsing the Ecosocialists. (The party was also subject of controversy this week after its leader resigned following a social media post Haddad and others denounced as transphobic.)

On Thursday, Haddad said on Twitter that the Green Party of Canada “has not been very transparent,” and posted screenshots of what she said were email exchanges with party leadership. (National Observer has not verified the screenshots, and the party did not answer when asked if they were authentic.)

The @CanadianGreens wouldn't divulge details of what led to leadership candidate Meryam Haddad's expulsion and reinstatement. But the Montreal lawyer said she was kicked out of the leadership race after criticizing the B.C. Green Party. #cdnpoli

But in one of the screenshots posted by Haddad, showing an email dated Sept. 22, the federal Greens appear to say she “discredited and intentionally damaged” the party’s interests by endorsing a rival party.

Though the B.C. Green Party and the Green Party of Canada aren’t formally connected, they “share common values and a common brand,” the email in the screenshot reads.

“The GPC directly benefits from having electoral success at the provincial level… your actions may be resented by GPC supporters who may choose to no longer support the GPC as the result of your explicit call to direct votes away from the B.C. Greens. Your actions may also jeopardize the ability of the GPC to effectively work with provincial parties on common initiatives.”

Another screenshot appears to show an email from interim federal party leader Jo-Ann Roberts, also dated Sept. 22. In it, Roberts writes that the Greens have received complaints about Haddad from “former campaign team members,” but didn’t specify what they were. (The party didn’t respond when asked for details.)

Haddad didn’t respond to questions from National Observer, but another screenshot she posted to Twitter on Thursday appears to show her responding to Roberts, saying that complaints from ex-volunteers were “withdrawn” on Sept. 12.

In the reply, Haddad also argued that May wasn't reprimanded after she endorsed ousted former Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould last year.

“Why are the rules so different when it comes to me?” Haddad wrote.

In a statement Thursday, Roberts said the party was “proud” to have candidates with “diverse opinions” running for the leadership spot.

“The Green Party is proud to have attracted a slate of contestants with diverse opinions from across the political spectrum,” Roberts said in the statement.

“Participatory democracy is one of our core values and that means giving priority to our members’ right to decide.”

Eight candidates are on the ballot. Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul, who has experience in international affairs, appears to be the front-runner, besting the other candidates in fundraising.

The party previously ejected former candidate Dylan Perceval-Maxwell race in June after he proposed that police should “give $20 to every person of colour they stop.” At the time, the party said the comments were “not aligned with the party’s core values, in particular respect for diversity.”

The new Green Party leader will be announced Oct. 3 in Ottawa.

Emma McIntosh / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

[Top photo: Green Party leadership candidate Meryam Haddad, a Montreal immigration lawyer, has been allowed to return to the race to succeed Elizabeth May. Handout photo​]