There are two ways of doing politics. One is to put forward a vision to voters, and work for their support. The other is to curry favour with those who already have power in hopes they’ll share it with you. I’ve never been interested in the second.
I joined the race to be the leader of the Green Party of Canada because I saw a need for a new form of leadership that stands for what’s right even if it goes against what’s been done before. This has guided my campaign from the very beginning, and I thought the party would welcome this approach. Unfortunately, I learned that those with power aren’t ready to give it up willingly.
As an immigration and refugee lawyer, I come from outside the political world. Like many Canadians, I’d always perceived the Green Party as grassroots and powered by its members. It was all the more saddening, then, when I became aware of implicit favouritism in the race. My team and I did our best to ignore it and build the strongest campaign we could. As we gained more traction and attention, however, the party leadership became increasingly hostile toward us.
Tensions finally came to a breaking point yesterday when I was sent a notice that I’d been expelled from the leadership race, citing a clause that stated I’d “intentionally undertaken actions which would bring the Green Party into disrepute.” The action that triggered the expulsion involved a tweet of mine praising the BC Ecosocialists, a provincial party in British Columbia that’s unaffiliated with the Green Party brand. I was informed by the Leadership Contest Committee that I had 48 hours — until September 24 at 3 p.m. ET — to appeal this decision.
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. Over the course of this leadership race, my team and I have been subjected to all manners of attempts to undermine our campaign by members of the Green Party executive, including preventing us from allowing free youth memberships. This latest attempt to end my campaign is just another iteration in a long line of attacks. The only difference is that this time, they decided to make it a public fight.
As all this has been unfolding, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to understand why the “grassroots party” would consciously work against our grassroots movement. This is where I think the old saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” rings uncomfortably true. The Green Party’s current leadership isn’t interested in the changes Canadians need. They’ve grown used to their positions of power and know that my campaign’s ideas are a threat to the centrist and green capitalist brand often associated with the Green Party.
Our people deserve better. We’re struggling just to get by. Thousands sleep on the street every night while more than a million homes sit empty. The fundamental structures of our political and economic systems are broken, and don’t work for the majority of the country.
This is why I’m running. I’m here to build a coalition willing to change this country into one that supports the people, not those who profit off their exploitation. Existing Green Party leadership and those they support have no interest in making these kinds of structural changes because they benefit from maintaining the status quo.
Despite everything, I believe in the membership. People are drawn to the Green Party because they think it’s a beacon of progressivism. All I want to do is prove they’re right. The stakes are too high to allow the culture of silencing and intimidation to stop us. I will be appealing my expulsion, and will continue fighting for transformative environmental protections, the rights of workers and a just society.
Without principles, we’re doomed to repeat the sins of all other politicians who promised change, but failed to deliver. This time, we’ll be different.