In Canadian Politics

After months of reflection and consultations with family, friends and political allies, I’ve decided not to run in the upcoming Green Party of Canada leadership contest.

Without a doubt, this has been a difficult decision.

From the moment that the leadership of the Green Party was vacated in October 2021, I’ve received moving expressions of encouragement from Canadians across the country who grasp that we desperately need a political revolution. To all those who have urged me to run again, I extend my deepest gratitude.

I feel that I owe it to those who supported my leadership bid in 2020, and those who encouraged me to run again, to explain my decision, and to do so with the same commitment to candour that I made when I entered the leadership race in 2020.

First and foremost, the question I must ask is: how can I best contribute to the betterment of our world at this particular time?

Since the last leadership contest, I have been dismayed by a precipitous decline in the quality of political discourse in Canada, and in the West generally. Intolerance for dissent has increased dramatically. Censorship has been normalized. In particular, those who dare to oppose Western militarism or our failed economic system are being marginalized and suppressed to a degree that is unprecedented in my lifetime.

In this extraordinarily difficult political environment, I feel that I can best contribute by remaining an independent voice of dissent. If I were to become the leader of the Green Party of Canada, I would be obliged to act as a spokesperson for the members. That is an obligation that I would treat with the utmost seriousness, but that same obligation could limit my ability to speak freely at a time when vigorous dissent is sorely needed.

Furthermore, the Green Party is emerging from a period of exceptional internal strife. Understandably, many members wish to prioritize the healing of divisions. As Annamie Paul’s principal competitor in the last leadership contest, I may not be the best person to heal those divisions.

Finally, in 2019, shortly after announcing her decision to resign from the Green Party leadership, Elizabeth May declared publicly that, in the 2020 leadership contest, she “will remain neutral”. Elizabeth did not respect that commitment, as she herself admitted in a Toronto Star op-ed published shortly after Annamie Paul’s resignation. In Elizabeth’s own words, “mea culpa”.

As many Green Party members have come to realize, Elizabeth’s interference compromised the integrity of the 2020 leadership race. In 2021, under the leadership of Elizabeth’s preferred candidate, the party arguably experienced the most difficult year since its creation.

For some weeks following Annamie Paul’s resignation, Elizabeth’s confession in the Toronto Star caused me to harbour some hope that she had learned from her mistake. Regrettably, however, I’m now convinced that she will not refrain from seeking to influence the outcome of the next leadership contest, particularly if I am in it.

Elizabeth May has made strong contributions to the Green Party and to the quality of political discourse in this country. For this, she deserves our thanks and respect. In my opinion, however, the time has come for Elizabeth to part the scene — gracefully, if possible — and to leave ample space to the next leader to chart a new path for the Green Party of Canada. I am confident that Elizabeth can find other and better ways to contribute to the betterment of our world.

Whoever may be accorded the privilege of being the next leader of the Green Party of Canada, I very much hope that that individual will chart a bold new course for the party. Even at the height of its electoral popularity – which was attained in the second year of Elizabeth May’s thirteen-year tenure – the party achieved less than 7% of the popular vote. Moreover, the Green Party has never won more than three Parliamentary seats, which is less than 1% of the seats in Parliament. At that level, it is practically impossible for any party to exercise a meaningful influence over the policies of our government.

Clearly, the Green Party’s slogan of ‘not left, not right, forward together’ has failed to inspire Canadians. That regrettable maxim is a veil behind which lies a refusal to take an anti-capitalist stand. That refusal ultimately leads not to forward movement, but to decline.

For too long, the Green Party of Canada has tried to be all things to all people, to encompass within its ‘big tent’ those who are irrevocably committed to a cruel, anti-democratic and radically unsustainable economic system.

Parliament itself has abandoned Canada’s left, and has done so despite a growing and broad-based awareness that capitalism is killing the planet. The leadership of the NDP, Canada’s nominally social democratic party, seems content to be slightly more progressive than the right-wing Liberals.

Canadian workers are acutely aware that political elites are disconnected from and indifferent to workers’ needs. Workers want a caring economy that is respectful of their fundamental rights. They yearn for a workplace that is democratized. They demand fair and equitable rewards for their invaluable contributions to their employers and to society at large.

Only a socialist economy can fulfill workers’ legitimate demands and only a socialist economy can deliver democracy to the people, yet no one in Canada’s Parliament dares to advocate for genuine socialism.

The vacuum on Canada’s political left presents an extraordinary opportunity for the Green Party of Canada. The time for eco-socialism has come. The time is now.

Despite my decision not to run, I stand ready to help the Green Party’s next leader to build the party into a champion of a new and indispensable eco-socialist movement in Canada.

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Showing 39 comments
  • Jane

    I’m not surprised by your decision, but I’m sorry. I don’t hold out much hope for the Greens and expect that I’ll be cancelling my membership soon. I wish you well and hope that people will begin listening very soon.

    • Edward Butterworth

      Thank you for representing my point of view, Dimitri. I am not surprised either. I have despaired of mainstream politics as a way for me to make a difference. I have to trust the ripple effect, that if I facilitate community building it will contribute to positive change in the world.

  • Menno Meijer

    Very sorry to read this Dimitri.
    Perhaps, should the GPC fail to get a true eco-socialist leader, you might consider forming a socialist party.
    I understand leadership manifests in many ways. But the Canadian parliament is in real need of your type of leadership.
    Thanks for all you have done and best wishes for your future endeavours.

  • Kyle Ukrainetz

    Great insight and I respect your decision.

    Bernie Sanders inspired me in 2015 and 2016. He showed me and many others that there is an alternative to the neo-liberal/conservative political parties both here in Canada, the US and the world. He showed me that our government can work for the 99% of us and not just for big businesses that can afford to lobby and influence our representatives.

    There is a hugh vacuum on the left and hope a leader like you will fill the void.

    Best wishes,


  • Alex

    Well at least now you’ll be able to focus more of your energies on pro-Putin imperialist propoganda errr * “opposing Western militarism.”

    • Dave

      Not a very classy response to a sensible and responsible decision that I would think you would agree with. Makes you feel better and makes politics worse.

    • John Dirlik

      Recognizing NATO’s culpability in fuelling this conflict a Putin propagandist does not make.

      Critics of the Vietnam war were also called “Hanoi-lovers” by the chicken hawks of their time.

      Didn’t fool anyone then; doesn’t fool anyone now.

      • Alex

        First of all, he goes way beyond recognizing NATO’s culpability (which I disagree with at first instance – a defensive aliance is not in any way culpable in a nuclear power’s decision to kill, rape and pillage a sovereign nation.) Lascaris in fact said that “Western powers and Ukraine’s government bear MUCH of the responsibility for this war.”

        He’s advocated for Russia keeping Crimea and taking other Ukrainian land as part of his calls for Ukrainian capitulation to Russia. He’s called Zelensky a “fraud” and “not a serious statesman” from his safe armchair in Montreal.

        I guess a serious statesman just gives up half of his country to the murderous dictator next door, just because the dictator one day decided that your state shouldn’t exist. Pathetic. No, Lascaris is the one who is a fraud, and he will never be a statesman.

        • Eric Peter

          If you had any integrity at all you would give us your full name. One wonders who the fraud really is.

          • Alex

            Sure thing, person with two generic first names.

      • Jaime Grant

        I respect your decision, and your reasons.
        I do fear, however, that we won’t get anyone who will take the party any further left than we are now. I see politics in Canada moving even closer to the US. And that scares me. I worry that I may have to leave the country of my birth at some point, as I can no longer accept the evils that we ignore, and the evils that we support.
        I had such hope when you ran last time. Here was a politician, in Canada, that I could relate to.
        These people on here who post to troll you have been drinking the Kool-Aid served up by the military industrial complex. I do hope they wake up some day.

  • Eric Peter

    Unfortunate. You would have brought us some hope for change for the better. Sadly, without a strong leader, voters will continue to vote for one of two right wing parties.

    • Michael Marcoux

      Opposing the U.S. interventionism, militarism, invasions and war crimes sounds like a worthy pursuit.

  • Marie Lloyd

    Thank you, Dimitri, for all you do and have done for an eco-left Canada. As a university student I joined the Waffle wing of the NDP. It was exciting and we were hopeful; then we were purged.
    I see Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein moving into the NDP- maybe a renovation or better. They’ve voiced a strong support for socialism, leaving consumer frills to the private sector.
    We’ll see.
    Best luck with your future path, Dimitri.
    You inspired me when I heard you speak at the waterfront in Kingston, Ontario prior to the leadership campaign. I threw in $500 for your campaign, and you earned every bit of it.
    Respectfully, Marie Lloyd.


      I truly felt you were the only person who could right the ship (Green Party) mired in No man’s land of no real agenda and no future under the present leadership. I am 86+ and have followed your passion during your time with “REAL NEWS” and thought you were the only real salvation but then I also worried that May night stab you in the back. Where do I go NOW after 70 or so years as a Social Democrat THe NDP again NO way Singh sold his soul to the evils of TRUDEAU AND Fraulein Freeland the real perpetuator of CANADA’S Policy…Good Luck Amigo It looks like I will not be Voting again soon.

  • Richard

    Keep up the good work outside of the Green party. You are an inspiration in these times.

  • Grant Joyce

    Must have been a very difficult decision. There’s a strange wind a-blowing and sometimes it’s best to avoid the path of the storm.

  • Colin Griffiths

    Anticipated but nevertheless disappointed. I feel very strongly that the GPC has lost its way, and will need exceptional leadership unbiassed by previous experience in the party.

    I fully concur with your analysis of how your involvement in the next leadership race would work. It would not be to your advantage.

    I look forward to working with you again. Your integrity and consistency of political vision are desperately needed.

  • John Dirlik

    I respect your decision but am saddened the Green Party will not benefit from your much needed leadership and insights, whether on Palestine (and its ongoing 5-decade old occupation) or the Russian-Ukraine conflict (a sadly avoidable conflict now fuelled by Washington’s – and Ottawa’s – opportunistic decision to “fight Russia to the last Ukrainian).

  • Diana Ralph

    Very wise, principled decision, Dimitri. As always, I deeply admire your leadership either from there front or behind.

  • Dave

    I well thought out, sensible and principled decision.I was delighted to vote for you last time, and hope a candidate can be found with a clear eco-socialist agenda. Anything else and I fear the Green Party is doomed after the fiasco with the last leader.

  • Richard T. G. Walsh

    Thank you very much, Dimitri, for your insightful analysis of the current state of the GPC. I too believe you’ve made a wise decision. Until a political party embraces an ecosocialist vision, grounded in a social ethic of the fundamental interdependence of all lifeforms, Canada will remain a failed member of the global community and will perpetuate its betrayal of present and future generations of Canadians.

  • Annette

    The prospect of you leading the GPC is what kept me hanging on to my membership. But I completely understand and agree with your reasoning and analysis and I’m glad to hear you will continue as a dissenting voice for Canadian workers and as an ecosocialist champion for people and planet. We need an ecosocialist progressive camp where politically homeless progressive Canadians can join to become a force for justice. The GPC is not it and can never be for the reasons you outline. Thank you for everything you do and I look forward to hearing more of your dissenting voice!

  • Dean Whalen

    Your decision to not run for the GPC leadership is understandable. The GPC has always contended with a division broadly described between those with a socialist base and those with a more conservative base. Both sharing a deep commitment to protecting and promoting a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle for all people and other living beings residing within the political and colonialist entity known as Canada.

    What these two “camps” do not share is the ideology required to work harmoniously together in an attempt to radically change the structures that empower the capitalist classes. I am not sure if the GPC can in fact reinvent itself sufficiently to create a tent strong enough to diminish or resolve these fundamental disagreements.

    Perhaps the poor decision making within the GPC during the past two years will spark the necessary revolution required in thinking and actions to achieve more political influence. Perhaps enough Canadian voters will be willing to support a newly invigorated GPC. If not the GPC will continue to either wither or to live on life support beneath the status quo of a First Past the Post electoral system.

    It is my belief that Canada’s fundamentally flawed electoral system cannot adequately represent the diversity of values and range of aspirations in a multi-party, geographically complex and culturally varied population as resides in Canada. The Liberals and Conservatives have proven over the decades that they can “game” the system with geographic and political alliances that hold well enough for 10 or so years of power. Then the alliances blow up, the other major party fills the void and the Canadian voter is stuck between these two bipolar entities (being the Liberals and the Conservatives). Perhaps the Liberals will supplant the Conservatives or the NDP will supplant the Liberals, whatever form this dance takes there will still be two dominant parties because that is almost guaranteed in a FPTP system. Each of these dominant Parties manage to be controlled by the oligarchic capital classes. Thus no fundamental long term change.

    Good luck to you wherever you find yourself working for a more just, secure and equitable life for all. Thank-you for your dedication to the GPC.

  • Marie Welton

    Indeed a very wise, principled decision Dimitri. Your wisdom, knowledge, courage and vision inspired me and my closest friends within the Green Party. Thank you.

  • Youri

    Very sad that you won’t be running for the GPC leadership whenever a new race takes. So much I could type and so much I want to say to convince you to run again but I know your a great person Dimitri who will tirelessly continue to do great work with what you do as a lawyer, activist, Green Left Canada, and your journalism. I only hope those in Canada who were influenced by your superb leadership race and how you conducted yourself as a politician running in that race and outside I only hope someone influenced by your platform, your many incredible stances and more get inspired to run for the GPC. Both you and Meryam Haddad I thought were terrific and I only wish I was a Canadian in Canada so I could’ve joined the Greens and voted for you both. But in the event since your not running and if Ms. Haddad dosen’t run then hopefully someone inspired by both of you, can take the leap of faith of trying to run and winning and inspire others to run on an eco-socialist and anti-imperialist platform. Best of luck in whatever you do going forward from this decision Dimitri, and I look forward trying to get in touch when times comes :

  • Patrick

    I respect your decision. That being said I presently have no hope that I will support in the near future the Green Party of Canada as I though you were the only person who would make it a serious alternative. Shame on the people who destroyed it because they made it a joke by fighting A. Paul during the election campaign. (I didn’t vote for her, but we needed to support her to give the party a chance to keep building.) For a while, it was a serious alternative and now it’s a joke.

    Best of success Dimitri. Please keep us informed on what you are doing. I rather make donations to you than the Green Party of Canada.

  • John Partyka (aka Pistola)

    Like all of your supporters within the GPC, I am deeply saddened by your decision but respect your reasons. Imo, the Green party has been infected by a form of woke neoliberalism. The video GPC meetings I attend now seem like collections of feel good sentiments for the usual “acceptable” minorities yet void of any pragmatic approach to address the systemic causes of their repression… much like the current LPC. I’ve tolerated it until now by hoping you’d run again and a real debate would ensue. Sadly, I am once again without a political party that represents even a fraction of my concerns. And more sadly yet, your analysis of what would occur if you ran again is accurate and honest. I no longer identify myself with the Green Party of Canada.

  • Gersande

    I’m struck by many sentences in this post, but the ones that resonate most are the following:

    > Parliament itself has abandoned Canada’s left, and has done so despite a growing and broad-based awareness that capitalism is killing the planet. The leadership of the NDP, Canada’s nominally social democratic party, seems content to be slightly more progressive than the right-wing Liberals.

    Good luck in all your future endeavours, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Ali Tchanguizi

    In the previous elections, I defended your candidacy. After analyzing the leadership positions and the current situation in the Green Party, I came to the conclusion that the leader of the Green Party, Ms. Elizabeth May, is not happy with your presence in the elections. Elizabeth May did her best to make her representative win. I agree with your current decision, especially that all parties at the federal level are partners in corporate macro-policies and in relation to the foreign policy of the Liberal government, as well as that the other parties have no clear foreign policy and follow American policies, which is embarrassing for a country like Canada. . It must be said that, unfortunately, we live in a time of political dwarf rule, both nationally and internationally. Regarding the Green Party and Ms. Elizabeth, I must say that she considers the Green Party to be her property and wants to run it by inheritance. I completely agree with your decision. Ali Tchanguizi

  • Steve Berube

    As always Dimitri, thank you for your integrity, insight and wisdom. I admire and respect you for your commitment and courage in offering a different way to see a variety of situations that is firmly rooted in justice especially for those on the margins.

  • Terry Fowler-Stewart

    Keep writing!! It is very helpful to navigate these complicated waters.

  • Dave

    This is the wrong decision, but OK. I am exhausted by the left getting close to actual political power – with the ability to shape debates and influence actual policy – and then finding some personal or vaguely and confusingly ‘principled’ reason to walk away so as to not get dirty. Dimitri – you were and are close to becoming the leader of the GPC – that is a fact. Is a sure shot? No. Of course not, but you are easily the most progressive/radical person with the closest proximity to any semblance of political power right now. Leader of the GPC is obviously not a tonne of power, but it is much more than the left has now – that is a fact. As the current leader continues to flail embarrassing the party further and the terrain changes, I hope you will change your mind. Next campaign make sure to reach out to labour – and start the campaign itself with a broad call for support – get everyone in on the ground floor. People hate backroom closed door political machinations – fight that from the start next time.

  • Flora Doehler

    Dear Dimitri,
    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for running for leadership. It was the first time in my life, and I’m not exaggerating, that I was able to vote for someone with whom I agreed 99% of the time.
    Your eco- Socialism, your internationalism, your social justice stance, your ability to gather up the facts of a situation and present a true picture was and is so refreshing. I hold you with the highest esteem that I have for Radika Desai, Alan Freeman, Yannis Varafakis, and Richard Wolff.
    I joined the green party to support my local candidate in Nova Scotia. When the leadership contest happened I dutifully researched every candidate, I listened to the debates as well as any other interviews or writings of every candidate. It didn’t take long to see that you stood out from the others. It was thrilling to discover that a true progressive was in the running.
    And the election! You came so close Dimitri. Imagine what would have happened had all the Elizabeth Mays and the Annamie Paul gang stood down instead of conspiring against the progress that an eco-socialist candidate would have brought to the party.
    And then we had a year of disaster, but still I hung in there hoping that I could vote for eco socialism again.
    So obviously I am really disappointed that you have chosen not to run. At the same time I completely understand why. I agree with most of your points and reasons except for one. You say that it would be difficult to support and promote policies with which you don’t agree. However you brought thousands of people into the party or showed that thousands of members also shared an eco-socialist dream. I think with your leadership more people would join the party because of your beliefs systems, resulting in more progressive policies that you could promote.
    But I imagine in the last two years you’ve had zillions of conversations on these and other points with your family, friends, and supporters.
    I have always said I would leave the party if you didn’t run again but now I’m going to revise this because your post has given me a little bit of hope that perhaps there is another eco-socialist in the wings who we can support.
    Thank you Dimitri for all you continue to do to illuminate, educate and transform. Maybe it’s time for a DIEM 25 Canadian branch?

  • Linda Shaben

    I had such hopes for the GPC under your leadership Dimitri and was very dismayed by the actions of Ms May and her loyalists to completely undermine your very principled and visionary approach to the party leadership. It was incomprehensible to me that half of the members of this party were willing to support AP who represented only herself and her status quo policies – offering absolutely nothing different from other party leaders here in Canada and indeed in most of the West. I am heartened to know that you will continue to support the GPC. This is such a reflection of your character and integrity. I think many of us who feel that we have nowhere to land in Canada’s political spectrum will remain in the party to support you and others who are working to revolutionize the political scene here and internationally! Thank you for your service!

  • Jake Stott

    Thank you Dimitri for your thoughtful and honest insights on today’s GPC and the restrictions on the Party leader to voice their thoughts beyond GPC policy.I found you to be a refreshing change in Canadian politics and am sad to see you not run for the leadership.

    I have marked my vote for the Greens since 1996, the year I saw Elizabeth May at the Teach-In at OISE in Toronto. But once I retired and began to spend more time studying environmental politics, especially what the GPC stood for, I realized that the GPC didn’t want to rock the boat. This was unnerving considering that the planet is on fire and the corporate and political leaders were adding gasoline to the flames. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but the GPC isn’t echoing Greta’s Our House on Fire” chant. I’m embarrassed that the GPC is “Blah Blah Blah” on environmental action, and on social justice too.

    Like others here, I saw you as the best hope for change in the party. I will stay around to support candidates who want to change this to a progressive party during the leadership race, but I don’t see them winning.

    The youth aren’t coming here. And I think many of us are leaving.

  • Frank Vetere

    Beautifully expressed!

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