In Canadian Politics, Human Rights

Over the past several weeks, the Green Party of Canada (GPC) has experienced unprecedented turmoil, beginning on May 10, when the Green Party issued a statement which did not reflect the GPC’s member-approved policy on Israel / Palestine. Our GPC policy recognizes that the state of Israel is oppressing Palestinians and calls for the use of sanctions, including an arms embargo, to bring an end to that oppression.

On May 14, after Green MPs issued their own statements which reflected party policy on Israel/Palestine, the leader’s senior adviser falsely and publicly accused those MPs and others of antisemitism, and vowed to work toward their defeat. On June 10, after the leader failed to defend Green MPs from her senior adviser’s attack, MP Jenica Atwin announced that she was crossing the aisle to join the Liberal Party caucus. Since that day, many Greens have called for the leader to be removed from office or to resign.

My purpose in writing this is not to debate the Green Party policy on Israel/Palestine, but to express my deep concern with the rhetoric being employed by some opponents and critics of the Green Party leader and her supporters.

However much GPC members may disagree with the leader’s approach to the current turmoil within the Green Party, it is offensive and unacceptable to allege that the leader or her supporters have engaged in criminal conduct, or that they are agents of the State of Israel or ‘puppets’ of pro-Israel groups or Zionists. Not only is such rhetoric wrong and unfair, it also undermines the struggle for Palestinian liberation by bringing that struggle into disrepute. Further, such vitriolic and hurtful comments diminish the prospects for desperately needed dialogue and reconciliation within the Green Party of Canada.

I have learned from experience that how we approach passionate and principled advocacy matters a great deal in creating the change we seek. Unless and until we muster the courage and discipline to debate these issues respectfully, we cannot succeed in resolving the conflict that now threatens the very existence of our party.

Of course, it is also offensive and unacceptable for supporters of Israel to stigmatize critics of Israel with false accusations of antisemitism. In order for our party to heal, the leader should publicly repudiate all of her former adviser’s false accusations, acknowledge that his comments were inappropriate and that her failure to defend our MPs provoked Ms. Atwin’s defection, and express support for our member-approved policy on Israel /Palestine. I respectfully urge the Green party leader to accept responsibility for her mistakes so that the process of healing our party can begin.

In the interim, I urge all Greens who comment on these issues, whether or not they agree with the leader’s handling of this matter, to approach these issues with civility, restraint and a scrupulous respect for the core values that constitute the Green Party’s basis of unity.

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Showing 12 comments
  • Richard Voigt

    Thank you for this.

  • Marie Lloyd

    The Green Party leader’s senior advisor has descended to zealotry regarding Israel and Palestine. He has in addition disregarded the Green Party’s own stated platform and issued threats of working to defeat those Green MPs and others who support the party on its own Israel- Palestine policy.
    Remarkable and singular.
    The leader will neither disavow his comments nor defend Green MPs who confirmed their support for the party’s policy on Israel and Palestine. Had she read the party platform prior to becoming a Green Party leadership candidate? It seems inconceivable.- a real Alice Through The Looking Glass.
    Your counsel to speak without attack or vituperation is the wise – the only- course a Green Party member can honourably take.

    I am no longer a member.

  • Oussama El-Mohtar

    Unfortunately, the leader, in subsequent statements and interviews, tried to deflect the real issue, lack of leadership and accountability, by playing the cards of gender, race and religion. The Greens elected Ms. Paul based on perceived leadership skills. Alas! at the first big test, she failed us.

  • Nira Dookeran

    Thank you, Dimitri, for this fair and even-handed call to civility and mutual respect as we dialogue about our differences within the party. It’s the only real way forward.

  • Laureen McLaughlin

    I whole-heartedly agree. Thank you for your principled stand!

  • Sherri L Bergman

    I truly hope that we can resolve this issue and agree to work to defeat aparteid whereever and whenever it occurs. There is no excuse for violence under any circumstances. We all need to show our humanity expecially as Greens who care about this planet and the people who inhabit it! Hopefully the resolution of this problem will strengthen our party rather than weaken it!

  • Alan Blanes

    Excellent advice Dimitri. The party membership must not allow itself to be a bunch of easily manipulated followers. The leadership is to implement the policy that is contained in the 2019 Federal Platform. It has no authorization to do anything but.

    It has been extremely frustrating since the Annamie Zoom meeting of June 6 when there was agreement that we ought to be a co-host in a Zoom meeting with a professor of forensic accounting on the subject of why industry controlled self regulation of banks and investment dealers is just not viable in Canada. This would be a winning issue for the Green Party, but after this valuable discussion, the Party insiders have been stalling and just sending out useless robo acknowledgements of messages. This Party could lead the way in getting real communications between leadership and the public. Put an end to saying that the automated answer is an acknowledgement of receipt. This is a false statement. It is only an acknowledgement of receipt if it appends the actual message.

    There is a lot that the Party could to to become an AUTHENTIC voice of the people.

    Alan Blanes
    Ph 250-932-9906

  • Eric

    Wise counsel, thank you.

    It must be a precedent in Canadian politics for a party leader’s key adviser
    to threaten to defeat most of the party’s caucus of sitting MPs —
    and especially then for the party leader to say nothing about it.

    The adviser’s accusations of MP antisemitism seem defamatory.
    Do they rise to the level of being actionable?

  • Alan Blanes

    You are right, Eric. It is unconscionable and the height of condescension and arrogance for a leader to ignore the substance of the concerns of members and to make baseless insinuations about race and prejudice as being causative for criticisms against the current leadership. This is a great opportunity for members to organize. It is possible for Green Party cadres to ensure that this party is an authentic citizens’ voice and is able to formulate goals and policies that meet the needs of the actual population, here and everywhere.

  • Diana Ralph

    Thank you, Dimitri, for your principled and wise counsel.

  • Miriam Meir

    A positive essential action to unite us as Ecco-Socialists.

  • Marie Lloyd

    Remaining in a state of human dignity and according others dignity in the midst of disagreement with them is not utilitarian, and we

    don’t do it to get somewhere more effectively. It’s not a means to an end. It’s how we need to carry ourselves in and through this

    world. Indigenous people use a simple phrase: “In a good way.”

    In a good way.

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