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The Green Party of Canada says it stands behind its leadership race vetting process after one contender responded to accusations he was promoting a racist policy by arguing his opponent was just angry he had come up with the idea as a white person.

Meryam Haddad told National Observer that if the Green Party truly respects its members, it must discipline Dylan Perceval-Maxwell for a policy he proposed during Tuesday’s leadership debate that she had called out as racist and offensive, as well as for his reaction afterward that she believes made things worse.

“I think the Green Party of Canada must take action against what he said, to be honest. I do not understand how he passed the vetting,” Haddad said in an interview.

"It's the party's job to make sure that such comments are not made, and if they want to respect members who are people of colour, and Black people, Indigenous people, they have to react to such comments.”

During the debate, hosted by the TVO network, candidates were asked to weigh in on the call to “defund the police.” When it was Perceval-Maxwell’s turn, he proposed that police should “give $20 to every person of colour they stop” as a way of discouraging racial profiling.

A few minutes later, when given the opportunity to offer some last words, Haddad, a refugee lawyer, called Perceval-Maxwell's proposal “super racist” and said that “as a person of colour, I find it very, very offensive.”

Asked Wednesday to respond, Perceval-Maxwell, an environmental activist, said he was “truly sorry that she feels this way” and that he would be open to directing the $20 to “some other good cause” or to ensuring it comes out of the officer’s salary.

But he added he didn’t think Haddad “even listened to the important part of my proposal,” which he felt was about giving police an “incentive not to pull over people of colour.”

“She was too angry that a white person came up with an idea, which I think she thought was belittling the situation,” he said. “The racial discrimination experienced by people of colour by the police is a very serious issue and deserves action, not just talk.”

Haddad said that comment made the situation “even worse.”

She called Perceval-Maxwell’s $20 concept “wacky,” in addition to being offensive. “Now today, he added that I'm in some way jealous that a white person found the solution to racial profiling and systemic racism?” she wondered.

The @CanadianGreens says it stands behind its leadership race vetting process after @dylanmaxwell7 responded to accusations he was promoting a racist policy by arguing @MeryamHd2020 was "too angry that a white person came up with an idea."

“It's not positive at all that we have a candidate making such remarks on TVO, or to any media, or in general. They (the Green Party) have to react to it."

Clockwise from top left: TVO host Steve Paikin, and Green Party leadership candidates Meryam Haddad, Courtney Howard, Andrew West, Dylan Perceval-Maxwell and Dimitri Lascaris on June 23, 2020. TVO screenshot

Party says it can't respond due to 'insufficient detail'

Green Party press secretary Rosie Emery said the party expects contestants to address issues that arise in debate during leadership contests, as Haddad had done already.

“This is the first time we've heard of Mr. Perceval-Maxwell's proposal, and there is insufficient detail to respond to it in earnest,” said Emery.

“At this point, we have not received any official complaint, and the preconditions necessary for initiating any disciplinary action against Mr. Perceval-Maxwell have not been met.”

Emery also said the party stands behind its vetting process. “There is nothing we found about the contestants that was not already a part of their public record,” she said.

“We are committed to participatory democracy. We trust our members to make the best decision on our future leader.”

The Green Party has made its position clear on the issue of systemic racism in the RCMP, she added. Green Party Parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May has called the RCMP "a racist institution" and anti-Indigenous, and the party says it has called multiple times for public inquiries into the Mounties.

“The party is committed to being actively anti-discriminatory, and we are taking exceptional measures to ensure equity and celebrate the diversity of our leadership contestants,” said Emery.

'All police must be disarmed and dismantled'

Perceval-Maxwell insisted his solution would succeed. “I challenge anyone to come up with an argument of why it would not work,” he said. “We need to think about every idea without prejudging ... this idea would be quick to implement and would not cost much, as the money could go back to taxpayers.”

Haddad said it was better to conceive of defunding the police as part of a Green New Deal, which she sees as including not only climate action, but also racial equality, decolonization, workers rights and other elements of social justice. The RCMP are “at the opposite of what our communities need,” she said.

"The RCMP and all police must be disarmed and dismantled. This is in the long run, of course. I'm not saying we can shut down all policing institutions tomorrow. But it's the long game, that we are committed to societal restructuring,” said Haddad.

“Affordable housing, education, universal pharmacare, mental health services — if we address these root issues, the crime rate and criminalization just goes significantly down. It's all about reimagining community safety in a way that’s not punitive and really focused on rehabilitation instead.”

Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer

The Green Party “vets” leadership candidates? Now, that’s interesting. I wonder how many people have been rejected, and for what reasons.

Incentives? To do the job you were hired to do, according to reasonable standards of performance.
Sometime when you're hard up for something to think about, consider the contexts of circumstances in which individuals or groups and their behaviours are discussed either in terms of "incentives/incentivization" or "sanctions/punishments."
Hint: it's part of the whole inequality schtick ... and I suspect the key is that either we are *all* equal, or "we" just ... aren't.
Are political parties now all so hard up for leaders/candidates, that they can't find a hopeful who has some sense of such things as division of powers amongst levels of government, human rights, workers' rights, etc.?

It seems in the concern about the possible racism of the policy idea the silliness of it has been overlooked.

“Affordable housing, education, universal pharmacare, mental health services — if we address these root issues, the crime rate and criminalization just goes significantly down". Serious thoughts, and well put, but I think Ms Haddad over reacts to Maxwell's remark - sometimes a whacky, out of the box idea leads to a productive rethink of a problem. Going ballistically into critical mode is wearing the wrong hat at the wrong time.

I agree. The suggestion of the candidate with the top hat should be treated as just a wacky comment in line with wearing a top hat and trying to appear serious.

Agreed.

A poor show on both sides.

Dylan Perceval-Maxwell discredits himself by his not-very-politic, casual musings on a volatile and sensitive topic in a high-stakes environment. At a time like that, ideas should be serious and properly considered, discretely, in advance, and flight-tested before being launched on the public.

Meryam Haddad in turn discredits herself by not addressing the idea, but instead personalizing it, announcing herself offended, and going ad hominen on him, straight to the most incendiary possible "racist" epithet. In addition, and more seriously, she demonstrates an instinct for repression instead of engagement with ideas.

What must separate Greens is a capacity for fresh thinking and a problem-solving culture. It can’t be about having policies on everything and locking in, as if we can know it all in advance. We need to be nimble in our thinking. We need to be about fostering a milieu for creatively and respectfully getting to positions, which means being reflexively open to new information, points of view, and engagement. Thinking, like any creative activity, involves trials and errors. You can’t select the best ideas unless you can first of all generate them, and you can’t generate them in an atmosphere of dismissiveness. No one should ever be shut down for a good faith idea.

So of the two, Haddad is the greater offender against her party here, in my view, for demonstrating reactivity over intellectual tolerance.

Perceval-Maxwell, peculiar though his idea is, in fact may turn out to have the germ of something: psychology would support the idea that even small tokens given or taken away can incentivize and correct behaviour. Can we come up with something that would be automatic, that wouldn’t need to trigger a whole institutional response every time, that would give an officer just that much more of a check before approaching someone falsely?

If there is something racist about that, then how about explaining what it is, in an educative way, instead of just unloading the R word.

Both parties in this spat are exhibiting the knee jerk reactions from their respective positions of privilege and grievance.

Green Party adherents are looking for substantially more insight and realism from their leaders. Ms. May was famous, or for some people, infamous for her fact based observatons and suggestions. Little of that kind of thinking is on dislay here. Mr. Top Hat seems bent on achieving notoriety for off the cuff musings unsupported by anything like persuasive explication. Ms Haddad has fallen into the "victimhood" trap which Ms May always evaded.

Neither party has inspired any confidence in me.

Carl !!!!!????? WTF ?! You , my friend, are a waaay better journalist than this. I feel, & am disturbed that you are making a mountain out of a molehill by reporting this silliness, which reflects badly on the Green Party. Both of these candidates are imature but they get the coverage? This is sensationalism.
Could we please get some reporting on the excellent views by some excellent candidates, such as Andrew West's on how to get the Green Party elected based on 'centreing the party' by addressing fiscal responsibility, & saving money by stopping Big Oil & Gas subsidies ...as opposed to Dimitri's 'spend like Covid' response to how much fighting the Climate Crisis will cost.
...& then there's Glen Murray, who has got all the numbers & the experience.
The doctor candidate also has an overall view of science & evidence based decision making that is phenomenal.
Serious candidates to consider, but not reported on.
Shame.
This is a messy start.
I'm sure alot of us Green members are looking for someone like Ms May to take over as leader of the party, & it is surely not these two lunatics making the front page here.
Otherwise , you Carl are my favorite reporter.