Does the Green Party Haddad fiasco point to a greater malaise?
It might not be just the ideology of the party at stake in the leadership contest, but its self-professed internal culture.
After being briefly informed that she was out, the Green Party has pulled ecosocialist candidate Meryam Haddad back in.
As we reported on The Left Chapter, Haddad was informed on September 22 that she had been expelled from the contest for the leadership of the party mere days before voting was to start. While the reasons were not immediately clear it later became evident that it was due to Haddad having seemed to endorse the upstart BC Ecosocialists on twitter in the BC provincial election over the BC Green Party.
Haddad has said she was not actually endorsing them, but either way she also pointed out that this would be a hypocritical reason for her ouster given that outgoing leader Elizabeth May had "endorsed and encouraged people to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould over our own Green candidate," in the last federal election.
With the absurdity of the decision getting increasing public attention and derision the leadership committee backtracked and overturned the expulsion.
This, of course, is obviously the right move. It would have been even had there not been the precedent with May. Shutting down a campaign that had been approved and had been active for months on the very eve of the voting would have been profoundly undemocratic.
The Green Party internal committee accused Haddad of bring the party into "disrepute". It seems pretty obvious that they themselves are the ones who did that.
Part of the Green Party's appeal has been that it is allegedly more grassroots and democratic than the traditional parties. This includes the NDP whose now profoundly undemocratic nature has led to one perverse action after another from "Fred Checkers" to the farce of potential candidates being disallowed or ghosted -- including well known labour leader Sid Ryan -- in the lead up to 2019 federal.
One of the Green Party's MPs, Paul Manly, actually defected from the NDP after his federal candidacy was blocked in 2015 over criticism of Israel.
But with the growth of the party and its desire to make further strides towards power or becoming the country's natural third party nationally, there are clearly some who see the party's culture of internal democracy as an albatross. This comes, perhaps not coincidentally, as the very nature of the party itself seems to hang in the balance.
Haddad and fellow socialist candidate Dimitri Lascaris want to see the party shift much further to left and to take explicitly anti-capitalist social justice positions in addition to the environmentalist vision. Were they to win the leadership the Green Party could change quite dramatically, although one should not underestimate the likely serious internal "bureaucratic resistance" that such a new direction would face.
Lascaris himself was also briefly shown the door by the committee back in May. Quebec Green Party leader and ecosocialist Alex Tyrrell withdrew from the race claiming that May was intervening in it and that "the environment within the party is not favourable to democratic debate."
After this latest fiasco it is hard not to think that there are forces internally who liked "grassroots democracy" when that meant everyone loved Elizabeth but are less sure about it when it might mean change. This may include May herself and those who rose to prominence around her.
Either way, it might not be just the ideology of the party at stake in the leadership contest, but its self-professed internal culture.