The federal Green Party is criticizing the Canadian media for sexist coverage in the wake of a newspaper report that accused its leader, Elizabeth May, of bullying three former employees.

The report, published on Saturday in the Toronto Star, quoted former party employees who alleged that May had "created a toxic work environment with conduct that includes yelling at employees and putting them down in front of their colleagues."

The report made reference to an incident from 2006 in which May got upset about delays in a job to repaint her office, as well as to an incident in which the party denied offering her daughter pay for work she had done.

The newspaper extensively quoted May's response to the allegations in its report, describing her own leadership as generous and supportive.

The Star also quoted May as saying that she gives her own money to party operatives who have financial difficulties.

"I studied for the priesthood. I'm really quite a committed Christian. I believe in treating people the way I'd like to be treated myself," May said, according to the report in the Star.

Greens say former employees are 'disgruntled'

After the newspaper report was published, the Green Party released an aggressively-worded statement, dismissing the allegations as criticism from "disgruntled former staff" and questioning the credibility of the three former employees.

"There have been no formal complaints about Ms. May," said the statement. "Sour grapes are unfortunately common with staff who were not retained for performance reasons."

"It is extremely unlikely that a decade-old anecdote about a man's frustration with his office paint job would merit national news," said @CanadianGreens in a statement. #cdnpoli #GPC

The party also noted that May was the longest-serving federal leader who had received a 94 per cent approval rating from members during her last confidence vote.

"The Green Party believes that as a female political leader, she is being held to a different standard than her male counterparts," said the statement. "A man with these qualities is admired for his leadership. A woman is portrayed as overbearing and bullying. These outdated gender stereotypes have no place in 21st century Canada. It is extremely unlikely that a decade-old anecdote about a man's frustration with his office paint job would merit national news."

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It is most disappointing that the Green Party of Canada is acting like most other conventional (political) organizations. While these accusations are not close to the level of severity of recent #MeToo claims it is not sufficient for the GPC to simply deny off hand. It is plain wrong to discredit the three former employees and completely unacceptable to blame the media for the story.

Yes it is sad that the GPC makes the front page of mainstream media with this story. And yes if Ms May were a man this likely would be under reported (or unreported). However, this does not excuse the reaction. Verbal abuse and toxic workplaces should not be tolerated and so accusations of this nature should be taken seriously. Conduct a thorough *independent* evaluation, release the results, and if action is required (or not) be fair, proper, and transparent.

Be the organization that is progressive in operation as it is in policy. That is all GPC members and voters ask.