Elizabeth May stays on as leader Green Party of Canada after fending off criticism from Rafe Mair

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      Ever since the Green Party of Canada passed a resolution favouring a boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, Elizabeth May was giving signals that she might quit as leader.

      But today, she said she will remain in this position, noting there was "never a consideration to join another party".

      May revealed that she received many positive letters from party members, supporters who are not members, and even some fellow parliamentarians.

      In addition, the Green party's federal council passed several motions expressing full support for her leadership.

      "It appears I am much loved," May said.

      She pointed out that the leader of the Green Party of Canada has no specific powers apart from appointing a deputy leader and shadow cabinet.

      And she said that one of the most compelling reasons for her to quit was that she would have more credibility arguing on a parliamentary electoral reform committee to dump the first-past-the-post system.

      The Greens have long argued in favour of proportional representation and would be a huge beneficiary if this is ever introduced in Canada.

      She also stated that the party used to ratify decisions with an online vote of members from across the country, but this was eliminated in 2014.

      "It was clearly a mistake," May said.

      In addition, she criticized the party's decision to adopt Robert's Rules of Order at the 2016 convention. She claimed that "consensus decision making works better than winner-take-all decision making". May pointed out that the party's council and executive will determine how and when a special meeting will occur to address this issue.

      This will leave her free to focus full-time on electoral reform.

      Decision to stay followed a blast from Rafe Mair

      May's opposition to the party's boycott-divestment-sanctions motion resulted in a lively email exchange earlier this month between her and Rafe Mair, a high-profile B.C. political commentator and supporter of the Green party. Mair circulated the emails to people on his mailing list.

      In the first email to May, Mair declared that the boycott-divestment-sanctions motion was "not a matter of anti-Semitism as the state of Israel and now you would have one believe".

      "Why would you support contrived self pity over the clear rights of Palestinians under international law not to mention civilized morality is beyond me," Mair wrote. "Anti Semitism is not even an issue except as a phony self-serving whine."

      Near the end of his email, Mair declared: "I find it impossible to understand how Elizabeth May, the humanitarian I've come to admire so greatly, would stake her leadership of the Green Party, not on a 'Green' issue which would be understandable, but in support of an Israeli government whose policies violate principles of basic humanity."

      Green party supporter Rafe Mair condemned Elizabeth May's approach to Israel.

      May responded that she does not condemn people in the boycott-divestment-sanctions movement.

      "In fact, I am sponsoring a petition to reverse the House of Commons vote to demonize the movement itself," she wrote.

      However, she told Mair that her concern is that the party's motion "is very divisive and, fairly or unfairly, is seen as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic".

      "Criticism of Netanyahu's actions is appropriate," May continued. "In fact, I was the only party leader to criticize the excessive reaction by Netanyahu in bombarding Gaza in 2014. The demand for Palestinian rights is appropriate. This is all in existing GPC policy. Endorsing a series of social movement tactics is not something a political party does.

      "For example, we can call for a two state solution and for Israel to stop the illegal expansions in occupied territory," May added. "We do not need to support one particular set of slogans and demands from a movement that is not a political party and whose demands make no sense for a party looking for solutions the Canadian Government can deliver."
      She acknowledged that the "range of options to get Israel to live up to international law could include sanctions and consumer boycotts". 

      "In fact language like that was in a compromise amendment I wanted to support," May declared. "But it was ruled out of order. It would have allowed us to speak in our own words, to keep us from being hijacked by a one-issue movement."
      While she stated that the boycott-divestment-sanctions movement cannot be condemned as anti-Semitic, it "does attract some who are".

      "It is just wrong to make an outside, and highly controversial movement, our policy," May stated.

      Moreover, she stated that Israel is a "country established from the ashes of the unspeakable genocide.

      "It feels surrounded by enemies," May wrote. "Its leadership and citizenry is not pricked by conscience by these tactics; it does not feel excluded and wishing to be accepted. It feels under assault and threatened. It draws more inward and erects more walls - figurative and literal."

      Mair replied to May that he didn't need any lectures on the Holocaust.

      "It happened at the most impressionable time of my youth and for the rest of my life I shall remember the Atrocity films we all watched and the dozen refugee kids that came to our school for Grades XI & XII," he wrote. "We all learned a hell of a lot from these brave contemporaries who became classmates and friends. One of them, Tommy Korican, became an outstanding Canadian diplomat."

      Mair also emphasized that the Holocaust had nothing to do with Palestinians.

      "We have an obligation to Palestinians to bring some order and sense to this tragedy," he stated. "Do you have any idea, Elizabeth, how Israeli Arabs are treated? The gross discrimination in all matters...including municipal and school funding? The constant harrassment with checkpoints and intolerable delays? What the hell has this to do with the Holocaust?"

      After this article was posted, Rafe Mair wrote the following message to people on his email list:

      "I am delighted that Elizabeth May is staying on as leader of the Greens and wrote my congratulations to her this morning. This had the classic signs of a coup and I believe [the Green Party] will be stronger. I deeply regret getting sideways with a friend but I'm comfortable with what I did. The Green Party may be a long way from  gaining office but properly run it will always have power."