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Saanich Green MP Elizabeth May says she never threatened to quit party

Former leader who is seeking to return called suggestions she would a ‘mischaracterization’
Green Party MP Elizabeth May looks on before the start of a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. May says she never threatened to quit the Green Party and an email suggesting as much was a ‘mischaracterization’ by a well-meaning staffer that has since been corrected.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Elizabeth May says she never threatened to quit the Green Party, and an email suggesting as much was a “mischaracterization” by a well-meaning staffer.

An internal email from a staffer in MP Mike Morrice’s office, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, said Morrice and May were ready to leave and sit as Independents if the party’s ongoing leadership race were to be suspended.

The party’s federal council had been considering a pause in the leadership contest and closure of an Ottawa office space as it dealt with high-profile resignations and internal turmoil.

The email was sent to top officials last Friday, saying either move would cause “irreversible damage” to the party.

May, the former leader, said in an interview that she remains very dedicated to the party.

“I never threatened to quit the Green Party of Canada. Never,” she said.

May admitted it’s clear the transition since she stepped down in November 2019 has not been smooth. She is running in the current leadership contest on a joint ticket with Jonathan Pedneault.

She described the email as a “mischaracterization of a well-meaning attempt from a staffer working with Mike.”

“Never in the wind would I threaten to leave the party, ever, and I think the staffer in question has clarified that wasn’t what she was saying, either,” she said.

Morrice also said in a statement earlier this week that he is not planning to leave the Greens.

Anna Keenan and Chad Walcott, who are jointly running for the leadership, said they are pleased with the federal council’s decision to continue the race.

“We want to be able to focus our energy on the external issues that matter to Canadians,” they said in a statement posted to their website. “To be able to do that, and end the cycle of endless controversy, our party needs to get its own house in order.”

A spokesperson for the party said discussions were ongoing and officials were trying to resolve the situation internally. An official statement is expected in the coming days.

This latest public controversy comes after Morrice and four of the six leadership candidates issued a joint statement condemning the misgendering of interim leader Amita Kuttner — who is transgender and nonbinary — during a party Zoom event.

The party’s president, Lorraine Rekmans, apologized on behalf of the Greens. Kuttner clarified in their own statement that Rekmans herself did not misgender them, and that they appreciated her swift apology.

Rekmans then resigned late last week in a letter that told members, “there is no vision for a better future.”

“I leave this party on my own terms,” Rekmans wrote. “I have resigned for principle. I had no confidence in the leadership contestants, and they had no confidence in me, and I lost confidence in federal council.”

She said she was shut out and accused of being a perpetrator of harm.

Rekmans wrote that she had been marginalized, insulted and denigrated by leadership contestants and saw no way to continue as president when one of them would soon be the principal spokesperson for the party.

The Greens launched the leadership contest this summer to find a replacement for Annamie Paul, who resigned after a disappointing showing in the 2021 election.

—David Fraser, The Canadian Press

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