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Greens reinstate leadership candidate expelled over tweet critical of provincial party

A supporter holds a sign for the Green Party of Canada in a Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, file photo.
A supporter holds a sign for the Green Party of Canada in a Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Montreal immigration lawyer Meryam Haddad issued a mic-drop rebuttal after she was briefly expelled from the Green party leadership race this week for allegedly endorsing a “rival” provincial party in the British Columbia election.

The 32-year-old wrote to the Green party’s leadership contest committee to point out that almost exactly one year ago, former leader Elizabeth May had done the very same thing.

“I would like an explanation as to why this is a reason to expel me when just last year, Elizabeth May endorsed and encouraged people to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould over our own Green candidate,” Haddad wrote in her appeal letter.

“Why are the rules so different when it comes to me?”

Read more: Green party nearly doubles membership list ahead of leadership race

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Haddad was reinstated as a leadership candidate about 18 hours after sending the letter of appeal, with the Green party saying in a statement Thursday that the committee had taken into account “mitigating circumstances.”

Last year, May spoke at a rally for Wilson-Raybould, a former Liberal cabinet minister who was running as an Independent in the 2019 federal election after a very public feud with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

May, who was Green party leader at the time, denied she was implicitly endorsing Wilson-Raybould, saying she was supporting a friend and standing up for ethics in politics.

Still, the Greens had to do some damage control, and issue statements insisting May still fully supported their own party’s candidate in the riding of Vancouver Granville, Louise Boutin.

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The Green candidate ultimately finished a distant fifth, more than 13,000 votes behind Wilson-Raybould, who was re-elected.

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Haddad’s offence was retweeting an ad for the B.C. Ecosocialists party, which was critical of both the B.C. Greens and NDP for allowing pipelines and fracking subsidies.

“We find that you have discredited and intentionally damaged the interests of the Green Party of Canada,” Haddad was told in the letter from the leadership committee tasked with ensuring candidates conduct themselves properly.

Haddad said her retweet was not an endorsement, and pointed to other tweets critical of the Ecosocialists as well.

This week’s events have shone an unwelcome spotlight on the party’s internal battles just days before voting begins in the first leadership contest for the Greens in 14 years.

Online voting starts Saturday, and the winner is to be announced Oct. 3 at a small event in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Green Party to likely hold virtual leadership convention amid coronavirus, May says

The eight leadership candidates were in the midst of an online forum Tuesday afternoon when Haddad suddenly had to rush off because she had just received a letter from the party informing her she had been expelled.

Haddad posted that letter, another from interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts, and Haddad’s appeal, to Twitter Thursday.

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Haddad accused the Greens publicly of trying to keep her out because they were afraid of the change her campaign was bringing that threatened the party establishment. She was angry that May had retweeted another post by a Green supporter who said Haddad did not deserve to be the leader of anything.

May said Wednesday she had retweeted that by mistake, and wasn’t taking a position on the leadership race but that she did think Greens should support their provincial cousins.

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Decision New Brunswick: Green Party leader Coon re-elected in Fredericton South, calls for provincial unity during concession speech

Haddad was told in her expulsion letter that the two parties are separate but share the same values and that her actions may be “resented” by some Green members who might choose not to vote for the party as a result.

Roberts’ followup letter added this was not her first violation, because the party had also received complaints about Haddad from some of her former campaign team members.

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Haddad said she had addressed those complaints and believed they had been withdrawn.

She was breathlessly excited Thursday after hearing she was back on the ballot, and thanked supporters in a video posted to social media. Her backers flooded the Green party with emails and phone calls Wednesday demanding her reinstatement.

Several other candidates expressed their wish she also be allowed back in, including Amita Kuttner and Dimitri Lascaris, as did Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin.

Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Glen Murray, who said he thinks Green leaders should support the Green party everywhere, said he too was glad she was allowed back in because it should be up to the members to decide.