Racism and transphobia are significant problems within the national Green Party that the organization has failed to effectively manage, an internal report says.
“There is systemic racism at the governance level of the party, which needs to be, but is not being, addressed,” says the report from the party’s ombuds and appeals committee, which was released internally in mid-July but not made public.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, says many complaints have been submitted through established party processes about prejudicial behaviour within “spaces” involving the Green Party. This includes in-person spaces such as election campaigns and events, and unofficial, online spaces associated with the Green Party.
“Transphobic and racially prejudicial statements are regularly shared, and a culture which tolerates them is endemic within the party (and within society as a whole),” states the report from the committee, which reviews members’ concerns about the party.
It says that despite anti-racism efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, the party has received several complaints and is unable to deal with them. It does not say why the established processes are not working.
The report says party members who initiate complaints about offensive conduct of other members do not consistently receive replies, and complainants are rarely informed of progress or resolutions, if there are any.
Although the party organization has dealt with the most “overt and egregious complaints,” it struggles to properly address more “nuanced or minor” ones.
The report was prepared in response to a party member’s complaint based on allegations published in the Toronto Star in April about various officials in the Green Party, but the 15-page document takes a look at the whole culture.
Green Leader Annamie Paul has been at odds with the federal council, which is the governing body elected by members of the party. In June, one of the party’s three MPs joined the Liberals amid a dispute over Middle East policy.
When Jenica Atwin left the Greens, members of the federal council initiated a non-confidence vote in Ms. Paul’s leadership, and tried to revoke her party membership – developments that ended when Ms. Paul appealed to an arbitrator, who blocked both moves. The dispute is now before the courts. The party has elected a new federal council, including a new president.
The new president, Lorraine Rekmans, did not immediately respond when asked for comment on the details of the report’s conclusions.
When The Globe sought comment from Ms. Paul, party communications director John Chenery said the leader would not comment on internal documents. “[Ms. Paul] was elected to bring greater diversity and inclusion to the Green Party and is committed to doing that,” Mr. Chenery said in a statement.
Without providing names or details, the report says former leadership contenders have participated in sharing transphobic material and “persistent misgendering, consistently not using members’ preferred pronouns when speaking to or about them.”
It says the complaints fall into the categories of unintentionally inappropriate conduct due to a lack of education or lived experience, negligently offensive conduct due to unconscious bias and intentionally offensive conduct such as slurs and direct and personal attacks.
And it says the system for responding to member complaints about inappropriate and discriminatory behaviour is “structurally flawed.” It requires those harmed by offensive conduct “to put in significant labour themselves” to make and follow up on a complaint to have that conduct addressed.
“It doesn’t proceed in a timely manner or consistently inform complainants of the status of their complaints,” says the report, which did not give details about the system.
Recommendations of a 2019 diversity and inclusion report dealt with this issue, but the recent report says it has not been fixed.
The report also says Ms. Paul’s efforts to prioritize these issues were held back by the previous federal council and the interim executive director.
The July report recommends creating an accountability system that includes people taking personal responsibility for their actions. Among other recommendations, it also says complainants should be advised of the status and outcomes of their complaints in a timely manner.
While national party leaders have been travelling Canada, Ms. Paul has been campaigning in the riding of Toronto Centre and nearby, Mr. Chenery said.
Plans for her to travel to other regions are “under consideration,” he wrote in his statement.
“The Green Party has learned a lot about how to effectively campaign virtually during the pandemic during the 2020 leadership race and by-elections. We will be using those tools to directly support candidates through virtual events.”
In addition to safety concerns over the pandemic’s fourth wave, he said traditional campaigning has an enormous carbon footprint.
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