The president of the Saint John East provincial Green Party riding association has stepped down from his position late Sunday night. In a Facebook post Kevin (Kage) O’Donnell blasted the Greens for being what he described as “a party that allows people who promote...racism”
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This comes hot on the heels of the controversy that saw Jagmeet Singh’s NDP accuse Elizabeth May’s Green Party of manufacturing a defection crisis, by claiming more New Democrats from the provincial wing of the party had left to join the Greens than proved to be the case.
According to Canada Gamechangers"
Last week, Jonathan Richardson, a former member of the federal NDP executive, held a press conference with the New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon to announce that he and 14 other NDP members would join the Greens.When I spoke with O’Donnell, he said that it was this troubling narrative that first gave him pause about supporting the Greens in the upcoming federal election. Given the provincial New Brunswick Green leader David Coon’s role and involvement in the controversy, O’Donnell says that he reached out to Coon following these events, but received only an unsatisfying response from a handler who he says told him “I’m sorry you feel that way”.
However, Richardson’s motives raised immediate backlash when, in an interview after joining the Greens, he told Canadian Press the NDP can’t win in New Brunswick because its leader is racialized.
The next day, May issued a statement saying her party had “no room” for racists but did not explain or apologize for Richardson apparently using racism in a political appeal.
A couple of days later, May was forced to backtrack as most of the “defectors” told CBC that they never jumped ship, that they were still NDP members and that the defection narrative was engineered without their consent or knowledge.
Embracing people with troubling views is not new for May. In August, the NDP ousted Quebec MP Pierre Nantel, who had previously called a person who wears a turban “incompatible” with the exercise of authority in Quebec. May accepted Nantel as her candidate.
Following this, O’Donnell says he decided to step down from his post as President of the Saint John East provincial Green riding association - a post he has held since February.
When asked if there was anything that could have been done to prevent his resignation, he stated “Why aren’t they [the New Brunswick Greens] properly condemning the federal crap? I was horrified when it came to how New Brunswickers were being portrayed. I was insulted and horrified. We might as well call ourselves West Virginia. That’s not New Brunswick. We aren’t like that, and yet this makes us look like racist hicks who can’t deal with a turban.”
He went on to say about Richardson: “I don’t know if he’s racist. But he’s politically Machiavellian, which is bad enough - but this takes it to a whole new level.”
When asked what he hopes to see done, O’Donnell replied that he would like to see a formal apology issued to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh by the Green leadership.
Ammario Reza is a writer primarily based in Ottawa.