The website emaygoway.ca lasted just a few hours before Green Leader Elizabeth May persuaded the disgruntled Green to take it down.
After an election in which the Greens were shut out of the House of Commons and saddled with a $2-million debt, the career environmentalist is fending off internal suggestions she may not be the best leader for this small party.
David Cotter, the riding president for the Greens in Kitchener-Conestoga, created the website on Wednesday calling for Ms. May to resign as leader. Specifically, the site accused Ms. May of failing to support all Green candidates unequivocally during the federal election. The site suggested she is to blame for the fact that several candidates will lose out on thousands of dollars in Elections Canada reimbursements because they finished just shy of 10-per-cent support.
Within hours, Mr. Cotter's site received thousands of hits and his inbox was flooded with e-mails, mostly critical of his website. Feeling sheepish, he called Ms. May. He said he takes her at her word that she does not support strategic voting, but he continues to question her leadership.
"I still think we need to have a serious discussion about leadership of the party, and I think party members have to be involved in that," he said. "But a public website like that is probably not the right way to go."
Mr. Cotter is clearly not alone among Greens, however; there is significant grumbling over Ms. May's refusal to urge Canadians to vote Green in all ridings. Anouk Hoedeman, who has worked as spokesperson for the Green Party of Ontario and is president of the Green Party riding association in Ottawa Centre, said Mr. Cotter's website speaks to a sense of frustration with Ms. May among some Greens.
"The website is a sign that there is a lot of anger and maybe confusion within the party over the whole strategic voting issue and how that was handled," Ms. Hoedeman said.
The Green candidate in Ottawa Centre finished 39 votes short of 10 per cent.
"This is exactly what we were afraid would happen," Ms. Hoedeman said. "So from our perspective, the whole strategic voting movement was very damaging. And the mixed messaging that Elizabeth sent out was very, very damaging to our campaign."
Ms. May's spokeswoman, Camille Labchuk, said Ms. May told Mr. Cotter that news reports about her comments were "misleading." She also added that about 38 ridings did reach the 10 per cent required for reimbursements.
"Of course, there are always going to be ridings that are close. And whether or not the confusion over Elizabeth's stance on strategic voting played into that in the final days, it's really hard to say," Ms. Labchuk said.
"But the membership of the party is strongly behind Elizabeth."
David Chernushenko, who came second to Ms. May in the party's 2006 leadership race and has accused Ms. May of selling out the party, disputes Ms. May's assertion that the media are to blame.
"I've actually listened to the tapes. I've watched her and cringed as there have been words, at the end, following a very clear statement, that: 'You've got to vote Green, except in ridings where I leave it to the voter to do the right thing.' What in flaming heck is that supposed to mean?"