Green Party chairman resigns, tells members ‘the dream is dead’ | TBEN News

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In a blunt and blistering resignation letter, Lorraine Rekmans, chairman of the Green Party, announced that she has quit in frustration, saying the party’s dream is “dead”.

Spread over three pages, Rekmans called her tenure as party chairman ‘turbulent’.

Rekmans took the job a year ago; the Greens were in crisis after attempting to dump former leader Annamie Paul for a federal election.

Rekmans, the party’s first indigenous president, believed she could help the Greens “rise from the ashes” and transform into a vibrant, inclusive party, while rising to the challenge of protecting the planet.

That hope was not realized, she said.

“Now I see that for me the dream is dead,” she says. “I am exhausted and my optimism has died… For me, this means an end to the (Green Party of Canada.)”

In an interview with TBEN News on Sunday, she called on members to take back the party, comparing the current situation to 2021 when it was plagued by infighting and divisive politics.

VIEW | Rekmans says he ‘got on the wrong bus’:

Rekmans says she ‘got on the wrong bus’

Outgoing Green Party chairman Lorraine Rekmans says that after serving the party for years, she is not sure she will be able to change her direction.

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Rekmans shared a copy of her letter of resignation. Her reasons for stepping down are varied, but she focused on the candidates in the leadership race currently underway and issues with her colleagues on the party board, known as the Federal Council.

“I resigned on principle. I didn’t trust the candidates’ leaders, and they didn’t trust me, and I lost faith in (the) federal council,” Rekmans said.

Interim leader wrong gender

Some of her concerns stem from the race’s launch about a week ago. During the virtual event, organizers labeled interim leader Amita Kuttner with incorrect pronouns on the screen. Kuttner uses the pronouns she/he/ille.

According to an earlier statement by Kuttner, Rekmans did not blame them, but the then president apologized as a party representative. Kuttner said the incident revealed a bigger problem within the party.

“In reality, this incident reflects a larger pattern of behavior that a few in the party perpetuate. Over the years, the party has documented reports pointing to a systemic problem that disproportionately affects black, indigenous and racialized people and 2SLGBTQIA+ people,” said Kuttner.

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Four candidates in the leadership race released a joint statement recognizing that Rekmans was not to blame and called on the party’s leadership to address “similar patterns of behavior that Dr. Kuttner has faced during their tenure”.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron, candidate for party leader, called Rekmans “uninformed” during a press conference.

In her resignation letter, Rekmans accused the candidates of politicizing the incident and insulting her so much that she didn’t see herself working with one of them as leader.

“Really, what can you do when our own leadership is making hopeful accusations at you?” said Rekmans.

While most candidates didn’t personally blame her for misbehaving Kuttner, Rekmans said the implication was there.

“I felt maligned,” Rekmans told TBEN News. “It was a huge insult to me. It’s an insult to my leadership, an insult to my contribution.”

With 40 hours a week of unpaid work for the party, Rekmans said she has suggested the party conduct an evaluation to correct its culture.

According to Rekmans’ letter, the federal council voted in a meeting Friday night to investigate allegations of abuse and discrimination. However, most councilors also voted to continue simultaneously with the leadership race, which Rekmans opposed.

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The outgoing president said she does not believe staff and volunteers should be working on a race amid allegations of workplace harm and discrimination.

“I don’t see how those two things can co-exist, that we can be examined for damage and that we can continue to use our volunteers to host a competition,” Rekmans said.

“If the council had voted to suspend the match I would not have resigned as that would have sent a signal to me that these people take safety seriously.”

VIEW | Extended interview with the outgoing Green Party chairman:

Extensive interview with the outgoing chairman of the Green Party

Outgoing Green Party chairman Lorraine Rekmans speaks with TBEN parliament reporter David Thurton about why she decided to resign.

Kuttner says the party’s problems are not new

Kuttner, the party’s interim leader, is involved in the latest development. Kuttner told TBEN they were grateful for Rekmans’ service, but the race for leadership must continue.

“These problems are not new,” Kuttner said. “We knew they needed to be addressed.”

“It’s something we should be able to do at the same time.”

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