Green Party leadership candidate Meryam Haddad said fellow contender Dylan Perceval-Maxwell proposed a “racist” and “offensive” policy during the party’s first official debate, when he said police should “give $20 to every person of colour they stop.”
The exchange happened near the end of a debate that was live-streamed Tuesday afternoon, moderated by Steve Paikin, host of the TVO show The Agenda.
Paikin asked all the candidates what they thought of the call to “defund the police” that has been resonating in protests and vigils around the world, in response to police killings and racial profiling of Black and Indigenous people.
Perceval-Maxwell, a Montreal environmental activist, said he thought “defund the police” was a good idea, and argued law enforcement needs to be “trained better,” although he also said the issue in Canada was not as bad as it was in the United States.
“You have to look at what is working in other places and come up with new ideas, and one of my ideas is for the police to give $20 to every person of colour they stop,” he said.
“This would compensate, a little bit, the trauma and inconvenience of being stopped, and it would make the police think twice before they stop them.”
Paikin then turned to other candidates to make their own points about defunding police. Several minutes later, near the end of the debate, Paikin said he was giving the last word to Haddad, as the person with the least speaking time so far.
“Mr. Perceval-Maxwell, I gotta admit, your $20 solution was super racist, and as a person of colour I find it very, very offensive,” said Haddad, a Montreal refugee lawyer.
“You want to pay people to address systemic racism? It does nothing. What would be the next step — if the person gets beaten up, you give them $50?”
Green Party leadership candidate Meryam Haddad said fellow contender Dylan Perceval-Maxwell proposed a “racist” and “offensive” policy during the party’s first official debate, when he said police should “give $20 to every person of colour they stop.
“No,” Perceval-Maxwell started to object, but debate time had run out, and Paikin moved to wrap things up.
Perceval-Maxwell’s website makes no mention of the police-fee policy in its “Our Vision” platform page. National Observer asked Perceval-Maxwell whether he stood behind his remarks. He did not immediately return an email query before publication.
Tuesday’s debate also featured Courtney Howard, Dimitri Lascaris and Andrew West — all part of the second portion of a two-part debate format. Earlier on Tuesday, Paikin hosted Judy Green, Amita Kuttner, David Merner, Glen Murray and Annamie Paul.
All 10 candidates hope to succeed Green Party parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May, who stepped down after 13 years as national leader last November, triggering a leadership race that will be decided this fall.
The leadership vote will begin on Sept. 26, and end at 3:30 p.m. (all times Pacific Time) on Oct. 3. The results of the vote will be announced later that day.
Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer