OTTAWA — The Green Party’s federal council has asked a candidate in Kelowna–Lake Country not to step aside or to endorse the Liberal candidate, despite his public campaign to do so.
Speaking to the CBC, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the Greens’ federal council had asked candidate Gary Adams on Sunday not to resign and not to endorse Liberal candidate Steve Fuhr.
Adams had campaigned to obtain the Green nomination on a pledge that he would, if selected, resign immediately and campaign for Fuhr in exchange for the Liberal candidate’s pledge to support moderate proportional representation and evidence-based policies.
Fuhr told HuffPost that he had also pledged in a memorandum of understanding to keep closely in touch with the Greens locally and with the party’s leadership in Ottawa.
Several local Green members, however, considered the deal an outrage.
Kelowna resident Dianne Varga wrote an open letter to the Greens’ federal council calling it an act of desperation.
She couldn’t understand why the Greens would work with the Liberals when the NDP were ahead of the Grits in the riding.
“This deal is a bad deal,” Varga told The Huffington Post Canada on Wednesday.
May seemed to agree.
“We’ve got to get it right. We’ve got to make sure that Green supporters across Canada know that they can vote Green and elect a Green MP. We are not waving a white flag,” May told the CBC.
May said she didn’t want to thwart local efforts towards co-operation with other parties, but that she thinks she, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair should be the ones to discuss how grassroots co-operation should work.
Adams told The Huffington Post Canada that the federal council had not communicated with him, so he isn’t sure what all this means for his candidacy.
Will his name be on the ballot?
“I don’t know actually,” he said.
Is he still the Green candidate?
“As far as I know.”
Adams said he wasn’t prepared to comment on whether he would still be interested in being the Green candidate if the deal with the Liberals were killed.
As far as he is concerned, he said, the deal is not dead. “But I don’t know.”
“It’s still very fluid,” Adams said. “I’m not really a party to the discussion at this point…. I honestly don’t know where it stands right now.”
Greens spokesman Julian Morelli denied that the federal council had squelched local co-operative efforts.
“There was no quashing of anything,” he said.
Morelli said Adams has not stepped down.
“We’ve asked him not to do so, and not to endorse any other party,” he said. “What they have done is establish a grassroots effort to achieve some form of working together between opposition parties. That is what we are working on.”
Adams and local riding association member Dan Ryder, who cooked up the deal with Fuhr, issued a release Tuesday afternoon saying they supported May’s effort to raise the discussion about co-operation to a national level.
But Ryder also couldn’t answer what all this meant for the agreement between the two candidates. Will Adams be allowed to remove himself from the ballot and campaign for Fuhr as originally planned?
“None of these questions can be answered at this point. As I understand it, it’s still at the federal level. Elizabeth May is talking to Mulcair and Trudeau about co-operation, prompted by our local vote,” Ryder said in an email.
Fuhr told the CBC the deal wasn’t moving forward but it wasn’t moving backwards either. Despite mixed-messaging from the Greens, he said he had the backing of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
“As far as I am concerned we are moving ahead with the relationship that we had all agreed on and until as we are told otherwise, that is what we are going to do,” the Liberal candidate said. “I’m going to uphold my end of the agreement.”
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