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Green Party president resigns, saying her ‘optimism has died’

Lorraine Rekmans says she has no confidence in the party’s leadership contestants
Sign boards for Annamie Paul, then-leader of the federal Green Party, are piled by a tree ahead of a news briefing in Toronto, Monday, July 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The president of the Green Party of Canada has resigned, telling members in a letter that her “optimism has died” amid ongoing party turmoil.

The Canadian Press has obtained a letter from Lorraine Rekmans, who wrote that she can no longer serve because “there is no vision for a better future, but only an effort to look back and settle old scores, while the planet burns.”

“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.”

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

Four of the six leadership candidates, along with Green MP Mike Morrice, recently issued a joint statement to condemn the misgendering of interim leader Amita Kuttner — who is transgender and nonbinary — in a party Zoom event, though they commended Rekmans for an immediate apology.

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

Her tenure was marked by internal conflict and she accused some in the party of racism and sexism.

Leadership candidate Sarah Gabrielle Baron, who did not sign the joint statement, said party matters should be handled internally.

Simon Gnocchini-Messier, who also did not sign the joint statement, said Rekmans had his full support as president. He said in a statement that he had confidence in Rekmans to investigate allegations of transphobic behaviour within the party and put an end to them.

The other leadership candidates could not immediately be reached for comment. The winner is set to be announced no later than November.

Kuttner told The Canadian Press that it’s not yet clear how the resignation will affect the leadership contest.

“I am grateful for all her work and dedication over the years and her time on council,” they said. “I wish her all the best. We will be charting the path forward as things shift and settle.”

Rekmans said in her letter that the party’s current federal council is completely different than during last year’s election, but they are now facing the same allegations of “being insensitive to diversity,” as well as allegations the council is not prudent with finances or communications.

“This has been a turbulent tenure for me as president of the Green Party of Canada,” she wrote.

“After one year of working at this for more than 40 hours per week as a volunteer, I am exhausted and my optimism has died. I suggest you might want to pay the next president that you elect.”

The Canadian Press

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