POLITICS
10/02/2020 20:12 EDT | Updated 10/03/2020 10:20 EDT

Green Party Leadership Race Has Been 'Unfair And Undemocratic': Meryam Haddad

She believes some members have been prevented from voting and that Elizabeth May unfairly endorsed and helped finance one of the other candidates.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Montreal lawyer and Green Party leadership candidate Meryam Haddad is shown in a handout photo.

OTTAWA —The Green Party of Canada’s leadership race has been plagued by so many problems that one of its leadership candidates says she will doubt the outcome of Saturday’s vote.

Meryam Haddad, a 32-year-old Syrian-born immigrant, who is also a bilingual lawyer and a lesbian, told HuffPost Canada’s political podcast, Follow-Up, that she believes the party’s race to replace outgoing leader Elizabeth May has been unfair.

“It makes me have a fear of the outcome of this leadership race,” she said.

Haddad, who identifies as one of several “eco-socialist” candidates, says, in next week’s podcast episode, that she also feels the party has tried to silence her. 

Expelled, reinstated 

Last week, Haddad was expelled from the race, only to be reinstated less than 48 hours later, after she was accused by the party’s leadership contest authority of bringing the Green Party of Canada into “disrepute.”  She had tweeted a campaign ad by the B.C. EcoSocialists that criticized the province’s Green party for not keeping the NDP government honest.

 The ad’s slogan said: “What we got was more pipelines, sham consultations and fracking subsidies. Enough is Enough. Stand for real change.” 

Haddad tweeted the graphic with the words: “Green for the planet. Red for the people.” She told HuffPost she wasn’t endorsing the B.C. EcoScoalists. “I just want to move the conversation left. That is all I did on social media.”

She also noted that May, during the last election, endorsed Liberal-turned independent Jody Wilson-Raybould over the Green candidate in the riding of Vancouver Granville. 

I feel like a lot of things happened during this leadership race to put sticks in the wheels of our movement and make me believe that there are certain things that are making this leadership contest unfair and undemocratic.Meryam Haddad

The leadership contest authority eventually rescinded Haddad’s expulsion, but she said “the damage was done.”

“People in B.C. that are Green and that are voting in this leadership contest might perceive me as a Green-hater,” she said. “I mean Elizabeth May retweeted something that said that I should not be the leader of anything, and that if I hated the Green Party of Canada that I should leave this leadership contest. So when you have the former leader of the Green Party of Canada that has a lot of leverage … — a lot of [the members] support her very, very much — when they see a retweet by her — such a violent thing to say towards me — [they] might not want to place me on their ballots anymore.”

“I feel like a lot of things happened during this leadership race to put sticks in the wheels of our movement and make me believe that there are certain things that are making this leadership contest unfair and undemocratic.”

The party’s leadership contest seems to have turned into a referendum about where its future lies — a more pragmatic centrist approach or one much more to the left of the NDP that calls into question the future of capitalism as well.

“I don’t think it is possible to be a progressive and a capitalist at the same time,” said Haddad, who along with candidates Dimtri Lascaris and Amita Kuttner, is running on the far left. 

The others: Glen Murray, Annamie Paul, Courtney Howard, David Merner, Andrew West, are less radical candidates.

Ballot issues

Haddad said several of her supporters had not yet received their ballots by email “and are not able to vote at the moment, so we are wondering what is going on and what is this other mistake that the party is doing at the moment.”

She suggested it could be “incompetence” or it could be being “done with a purpose.” 

“Maybe it was intended or not, but it makes me again doubt about how democratically the next leader will be voted in.” 

Asked about the potential ballot issues, Green Party of Canada spokeswoman Rosie Emery told HuffPost that the party is “seeing a normal level of requests for troubleshooting and [we] are confident that the online voting system is working well. 

“We have a team of support staff on hand to assist members in accessing their online ballots.”

Emery did not respond to requests about how many complaints the party had received. Haddad said she was unable to provide a number as well. 

“A lot of people haven’t received their ballots or that link in their emails. That is why I have some doubts on the outcome of this leadership race.” 

Withheld donations

Problems have affected at least one other campaign as well.

The party acknowledged this week that it erroneously withheld 35 donations worth $9,630 that had been made to Murray’s campaign. Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg and Ontario Liberal cabinet minister, told HuffPost Thursday that he felt his campaign had been negatively affected by the setback, but there was little time to correct the error with the vote on Saturday. 

Haddad and Murray pointed out another problem that they feel had an unfair impact on the competition: May’s extensive fundraising for one particular candidate. 

“The fact Elizabeth May fundraised for Annamie Paul throughout the campaign … the perception of the members and non-members is that there is an endorsement there.” 

May’s assistance helped catapult Paul to the top place in terms of candidate fundraising — racking in nearly $121,000, according to the Canadian Press. Lascaris came in a distant second with $52,610. Paul’s campaign told HuffPost that May’s participation in five virtual events helped bring in approximately $20,000 to $25,000.

Asked if it would make Haddad doubt Saturday’s result, she responded “Yes.”

“To be completely honest, yes. 

“I have a fear that it is going to be unfair, or that there is going to be some kind of problem that happened throughout this campaign, especially since the voting started. I’m being completely honest here. Maybe I’ll get into trouble for saying that, but … it makes me doubt how democratic the process is.”

Still, she said, she was feeling “optimistic.” 

“There is so much excitement going on around our messaging, compared to the others,” she said, that she believes “we should be able to win,” Haddad added. 

“One of the three eco-socialist candidates must win this leadership contest.”

The Greens are scheduled to announce their new leader Saturday evening.

CORRECTION:A previous version of this story omitted David Merner’s name from the list of leadership contestants and incorrectly stated Paul Manly is running for the leadership. We apologize for the error. This story was also updated Saturday with additional information from Annamie Paul’s campaign.

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