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

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I don't think the remark warranted being called a "racist." Maybe he was thinking out loud and maybe his remark could be called "thoughtless." There might be lots of people of colour who would endorse compensation for acts of racial profiling but that doesn't make it a viable solution. And, essentially it is an organizational structural problem, a cultural problem that is best addressed through education.

Dylan Perceval-Maxwell. Classic case of opening mouth before putting brain in gear. Humans are all too prone to this behaviour, illustrating the built-in non-evolutionary relevance of the sapience species. In our case, humans have evolved wholly useless and superfluous, irrelevant brain power. Every time we open our flapping mouths and wag those muscle bound tongues we push our species closer to well deserved extinction!

Let's face it: this is a classic case of throwing money at something, hoping to relolve it.
Most people understand that it never works, showing up the superficial viewpoint of those who think it does - so inappropriate in a political party leadership candidate!

So because he said something stupid (which I could see coming), this is what we are listening to?
This is sensationalism. What about all the other important issues?

I don’t know that I would call his idea ‘racist’ more than clueless; it definitely shows a complete lack of awareness of this truly important issue in Canada and to Canadians. If this airhead is the best the Green Party has to offer then they have big problems.

I am also shocked that no one called him out for comparing systemic racism in Canada to that in the U..S. I hope we are not using the problems there to negate what has and continues to happen in Canada.

Leadership candidates like Dylan Perceval-Maxwell tend to reflect poorly on the credibility of the Green Party itself. How is it that clownish candidates of this ilk manage to make it to the national stage...

I watched this debate and it amazes me that out of all the important discussions amongst the leadership hopefuls you zero in on a last minute spat between two of the 10 candidates. I did not expect this kind of sensationalist journalism from the National Observer. Sure it happened, but does it deserves the major focus when the real story is the emerging battle for the vision of the party moving forward. The main issues I took away were positioning with the electorate, should the Greens be centralist, like the liberals and be a big tent, or move to become more progressive than the NDP and move into a Bernie Sanders stye socialist tent? Is the party a movement or trying to elect a significant number of members to Parliament? Those were the substantive issues I took away from the debate.