Greens adopt BDS as official party policy

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I found this e-mail exchange with Rafe Mair to be enlightening. She got outmaneuvered on the floor of the convention and is now paying the price. At least she makes a plausible case for why she opposed the motion.

Quote:

Reply from Elizabeth May to Rafe Mair – Aug. 12

I gather Rafe’s missive went to more than me? Perhaps I should share this with you.

 The Green Party should not have tried out Robert’s Rules of Order.  We have always used consensus based decision making. We always find common ground through mutual respect and shared values.  We actually violated core values in leaving consensus decision-making. ‎It is an absolute parallel with the electoral reform debate. Parliaments that operate under FPTP are like Roberts Rules of Order – nasty. Majoritarian and prone to policy lurches thru winner take all votes. Proportional Rep democracies strive for consensus and operate much better.  We accidentally backed into a process that violates our core values-   Just as we make the case that Canada should move to consensus!

I want to be clearer about why I opposed the resolution on BDS. Of course, I do not condemn people in the BDS movement.  In fact I am sponsoring a petition to reverse the House of Commons vote to demonize the movement itself.

My concern is that it is very divisive and, fairly or unfairly, is seen as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.  How divisive it is is very clear from what it just did to our party.

Criticism of Netanyahu’s actions is appropriate. 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. 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.

Unfortunately, as noted above, the debate was run under new rules – Roberts Rules of Order.  Had we followed our usual and time-worn practice of consensus based decision making, this resolution would never have passed. It was too divisive.  A compromise would have been found.

As well,  due to a misunderstanding, my microphone was cut off in my only intervention, after 90 seconds.  What I had wanted to do when my mic was cut off was support the call from retired members of the Israeli security forces. This new group, Security First, is taking on Netanyahu. It calls for an end to illegal expansions by pointing out it makes Israel less secure. Supporting the same demands as being made by an outside group, BDS, but coming from retired Israeli defense and Mossad members is much smarter and will be more effective.

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.  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.

So to be really clear, I respect what many in the BDS movement are trying to do.  And I do not think the movement can be condemned as anti-Semitic, although it does attract some who are. It is just wrong to make an outside, and highly controversial movement, our policy.

http://commonsensecanadian.ca/elizabeth-may-rafe-mair-debate-israel-gree...

 

Debater

Is Liz May looking to make a leap to the Liberals?

She’s got stronger ties with the Trudeau camp than with the NDP

Susan Delacourt

2016/08/16

http://ipolitics.ca/2016/08/16/is-liz-may-looking-to-make-a-leap-to-the-...

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Debater wrote:

Is Liz May looking to make a leap to the Liberals?

She’s got stronger ties with the Trudeau camp than with the NDP

She has always publically dismissed the NDP and has campaigned extremely hard against the NDP including cheating during the last election to try to unseat an NDP MP who is a recognized environmentalist.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Debater wrote:

Is Liz May looking to make a leap to the Liberals?

She’s got stronger ties with the Trudeau camp than with the NDP

Susan Delacourt

2016/08/16

http://ipolitics.ca/2016/08/16/is-liz-may-looking-to-make-a-leap-to-the-...

Ms. Delacourt seems to be taking Mr. Caplan's column at face value, when it was obviously a joke.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Without knowing how "luxury goods" are defined I would have to guess that the answer is probably yes.

Then what you really need is to know how the average North Korean is defined.

Hint:  where to find their next Rolex watch isn't really high on their list of priorities.

Rev Pesky

Here's is May's full defense of her position, as posted on the Green Party website:

What I would have said

Quote:

Elizabeth May August 15, 2016

As you can very well imagine, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents, members and Canadians since my party's Convention on Sunday.  The emails span nearly every conceivable angle on the party's new position on BDS.

I did not have enough time at Convention to express my position on this highly charged issue. However, one of my replies - in this case to a member who is concerned that I oppose the new policy - really encapsulates what I would have said on Sunday.

I hope every member takes a few minutes to read this, and consider our next steps as a party in the coming days.

------------------------------

Dear David,

I want to be clearer about why I opposed the resolution on BDS. Of course, I do not condemn people in the BDS movement. In fact I am sponsoring a petition to reverse the House of Commons vote to demonize the movement itself.

My concern is that it is very divisive and, fairly or unfairly, is seen as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. How divisive it is is very clear from what it just did to our party.

Criticism of Netanyahu's actions is appropriate. 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. 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.

Unfortunately the debate was run under new rules - Roberts Rules of Order. Had we followed our usual and time-worn practice of consensus based decision making, this resolution would never have passed. It was too divisive. A compromise would have been found.

As well, due to a misunderstanding, my microphone was cut off in my only intervention, after 90 seconds. What I had wanted to do when my mic was cut off was support the call from retired members of the Israeli security forces. This new group, Security First, is taking on Netanyahu. It calls for an end to illegal expansions by pointing out it makes Israel less secure. Supporting the same demands as being made by an outside group, BDS, but coming from retired Israeli defense and Mossad members is much smarter and will be more effective.

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. 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.

So to be really clear, I respect what many in the BDS movement are trying to do. And I do not think the movement can be condemned as anti-Semitic, although it does attract some who are. It is just wrong to make an outside, and highly controversial movement, our policy.

I also look at what moves governments to change as Gandhi used to - by examining what will be effective. He once said he knew non-violent civil disobedience would move the British to leave India because he knew their conscience could be pricked. But he did not think it could work against a dictatorship. The sanctions movement against South Africa worked because South Africa was a country with Commonwealth colonial history. It really stung South African Afrikaners to be thrown out of the Commonwealth. They wanted back in. It was their "family."

Israel is entirely different. It is a country established from the ashes of the unspeakable genocide. It feels surrounded by enemies. 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. Through a history of victimization and genocide, boycotts and sanctions are experienced by the mainstream Canadian Jewish community, by Greens in Israel and by the Israeli government an attack on Israel's right to exist. It does not move or promote change. I am convinced BDS will never advance peace or Palestinian rights. Working to promote the views of retired Israeli armed forces members and promoting more Canadian government support for Palestinian rights, for aid and development assistance is where we should be as a party. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to say any of this in the plenary debate.

You may still condemn my views, but at least you have the benefit of knowing what they are.

- Elizabeth

What a pike of twaddle. She rails away against Robert's Rules of Order as though it was some Nazi system that someone forced on the party. She doesn't tell us exactly why the party chose to use Robert's Rules of Order instead of the 'time worn' practice of consensus. Well, this may come as a shock to May, but consensus politics usually means nothing gets done. In the case of the Green Party, it would allow a single person (Elizabeth May, perhaps) to prevent the party from adopting any policy at all. What Robert's Rules of Order did was allow the party to make a decision that the members knew would be opposed by both May and the party president at the time, Paul Estrin. Estrin, as noted upthread, wrote a piece for CIJA ("Why Gaza makes me sad"), signing his name to it as President of the Green Party Canada. Then, when confronted with the fact his party disagreed with him, tried to say it was only his opinion. Sorry, but when you're signing your name and party position to a document, you are speaking as an officeholder in that party.

May goes on about how this decision was so divisive. But was it really divisive, or was it opposed by a small clique at the top of the party, who, without the shield of 'consensus politics' lost in their bid to shut it down.

But all that is internal to the Green Party. Whatever I think of it, I'm not a member, and that's for the membership to work out.

However, there are things in this blog post which should be addressed. For instance, May refers to

Quote:
...the excessive reaction by Netanyahu in bombarding Gaza in 2014.

This is a common refrain in the media. But in this struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis, what is action, and what is reaction? The media constantly designate Israeli actions as 'reaction', and then lightly condemn them for 'over-reacting, as May does here. But what if we instead say the Palestinians were 'reacting' against the depredations of Israel? That puts a whole new light on things.

Then May goes off into la-la land:

Quote:
What I had wanted to do when my mic was cut off was support the call from retired members of the Israeli security forces. This new group, Security First, is taking on Netanyahu. It calls for an end to illegal expansions by pointing out it makes Israel less secure.

Wow! An end to illegal expansions! Gee, how about a dismantling of the existing illegal settlements? And what is this support for a group of 'retired members' of the Israeli forces. I'll just point out, that if there was any justice, those whom May points to as worthy of support would be in the dock in the Hague.

And what is their argument? They want to make Israel more secure. They may be right, or they may be wrong, but they are definitely not doing this to bring Israel back into the fold of countries that abide by international law.

Then May's final paragraph tells it like it is.

Quote:
...Through a history of victimization and genocide, boycotts and sanctions are experienced by the mainstream Canadian Jewish community, by Greens in Israel and by the Israeli government an attack on Israel's right to exist. It does not move or promote change. I am convinced BDS will never advance peace or Palestinian rights.

Elizabeth May, what's your plan?

johnpauljones

So May has announced that she will stay on as leader. What happens now? Does the party "leadership" overrule the membership and kill the bds policy? Does May change her tune and support BDS -- an issue she has been against for over a decade? Or do the Greens have a policy voted on by the membership yet ignored by the elected side of the equation.

 

Seems to me that whatever May does she has a very sticky whicket to deal with.

 

mark_alfred

She's going on about compromise and consensus, deriding Robert's Rules of Order.  So, I'm guessing she's looking to have the resolution watered down.

Debater

Here's the story:

Elizabeth May staying on as Green Party Leader

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/elizabeth-may-staying-on-as-green-party-l...

Rev Pesky

From the CBC reporting of May's decision:

Quote:
May said despite her ongoing opposition to the motion she wouldn't shy away from bringing a critical eye to Middle East policy. "I will equally condemn Hamas rockets into Israel as I will Israeli disproportionate reaction and killing children in the occupied territory."

And there it is again, that 'disproportionate Israeli reaction'. I wonder why no one ever characterizes what the Palestinians do as a 'reaction' to having their land stolen, their houses being destroyed, their children being killed while the occupier creates more and more 'facts on the ground'?

The only conclusion one could reach is that Palestinians are not allowed to 'react', proportionately or otherwise.

Further from the same story:

Quote:
She said some motions were rammed through at that meeting without broad-based support from the the party's grassroots, adding that all policies should be enacted by consensus.

Leaving aside the vote which was won by a majority (rammed through?), the problem with consensus politics is that it gives the party leadership a veto over party policy. It also means not much gets done. If one person (Elizabeth May, for instance) opposes a proposed policy, while everyone else supports it, that's the end of it. There's no consensus.

I have a friend who favoured consensus politics, but became disillusioned when working within a group that used consensus to arrive at decisions. Ultimately the only way to get anything done was to force those who opposed the motion out of the group, or leave and start your own group.

Elizabeth May has had very high approval ratings within, and outside, her party. I predict those approval ratings will begin to drop.

mark_alfred

She was aware that the convention was being run under Robert's Rules of Order and was agreeable to it initially.  So, for her to now complain about it after a vote didn't go her way is hypocritical.  It's not like she's unaware of what Robert's Rules of Order are, given that she's an MP.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Does it say somewhere that she was "agreeable to it initially"?

Maybe she wasn't, but under RRoO, she got shouted down.

mark_alfred

I got that from her statements I heard on CBC Radio this morning.  Something like, "well, okay, let's try this [RRofO], but then I saw the actual effect of it and how it turned a wonderful process of cooperation and consensus into an adversarial uncooperative process very similar to FPTP..."  Granted, I'm just pulling that from memory, and she speaks fast, but I'm sure that was the gist of it.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Fair enough.

Quote:
Something like, "well, okay, let's try this [RRofO], but then I saw the actual effect of it and how it turned a wonderful process of cooperation and consensus into an adversarial uncooperative process very similar to FPTP..."

Had the decision been made using a consensus process, she might have still lost, but could have cheerfully said "well, at least I got my second choice!!"

mark_alfred

I should be clear that when I say "agreeable to it initially" that I'm referring to the decision making process of the convention (that being running the convention under RRofO rather than under a consensus model).  I am not referring to the resolution, which she was never agreeable to.  She's now, after the fact, stating that the decision to pass the resolution was improper, because she now feels RRofO are improper for the Green Party.  It's simply not plausible IMO that she would have been unaware and uninvolved in the decision to run the convention under RRofO. 

Rev Pesky

mark_alfred wrote:
... It's simply not plausible IMO that she would have been unaware and uninvolved in the decision to run the convention under RRofO. 

Yeah, I found that part of the story a bit odd myself. How did the Green Party arrive at the decision to use RRoO? Was it by consensus? It seems to me that if the party had always used 'consensus' before using RRoO, then they must have changed to RRoO by consensus.

And I too find it implausible that May doesn't, or didn't, understand how RRoO works. It's pretty much impossible that someone who has been hanging around politics for as long as she has never run into RRoO.

Quoting Mark Alfred's paraphrase of May on CBC radio:

Quote:
...but then I saw the actual effect of it and how it turned a wonderful process of cooperation and consensus into an adversarial uncooperative process very similar to FPTP..."
 

This is just plain hilarious. According to the PR supporters, including May, the problem with FPTP is not that it's adversarial. All politics is adversarial, at least until there's OBP (one big party). The problem is the 'false' majorities that result when members are elected riding by riding. In this case, the result of the vote was not a 'false' majority, it was a very real majority, opposed by the party hierarchy.

Or is May really saying that Parliament should be run on a consensus basis? If that's the case, Parliament wouldn't (or couldn't) ever do anything.

It is my belief that this is the beginning of the end of her leadership of the Green Party. Not a moment too soon, in my opinion.

mark_alfred

It seems the apparatchiks of the Green Party are in fact buying into her wishes to keep her as leader, and will be looking to review the convention decision.

link

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

lol. The Green Party. One of many in the fake Canadian democracy.

Now that it's becoming clear that the leadership can shamelessly trample on the wishes of the membership, I feel there is a "great future" for the Green Party under Elizabeth May. Better media coverage. Plain brown envelopes of cash. Why step down due to a BDS motion or two?

And look at other sister countries! The UK Conservatives are doing a fine job of urinating on the wishes of the electorate regarding BREXIT. Pretty soon it's going to be the United Kingdom of Forget. Another fake democracy.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..my bold

Green Party of Canada Leader Reaffirms Leadership Following Row Over BDS

quote:

Ms. May, our leader, has quite rightly acknowledged the illegality of the settlements and that our party in 2014 adopted a policy which explicitly recognized that they were an obstacle to peace. Where Ms. May and I part company is how best to achieve a two-state solution. And my simple proposition, and the one I think was clearly embraced by a substantial majority of the members of the party on three occasions in the last 6 months in an online vote, in a workshop at the convention, and in the full plenary vote in the convention, is that we’re never going to have a two-state solution unless we ensure Israel’s respect for human rights law. And that means that there have to be penalties, appropriate penalties imposed on those sectors of Israel’s society and economy that are profiting from the occupation and the settlements.

Unionist

[url=https://ricochet.media/en/1337/quebec-green-leader-elizabeth-may-is-wron... Green leader: Elizabeth May is wrong on BDS[/url]

Quote:
As leader of the Greens in Quebec, the only eco­socialist Green Party in Canada, and someone who has watched the federal party from a distance for many years, I was unfortunately not surprised to see May speaking against the policy and attempting to marginalize those who support it. Over the years, Elizabeth May has pushed the Green Party of Canada closer and closer to the centre of Canadian politics. Her policies are a far cry from what her U.S. counterpart Dr. Jill Stein has been advocating for in that country’s presidential campaign.

[...]

Contrary to what May has said in the national media, the resolution passed with an overwhelming majority of support both on the convention floor and during online pre-­convention voting. While Elizabeth May is sensitive to criticism, intimidation and bullying from pro-­Israeli government groups, the members are not.

This bold position taken by the membership shows that there is a growing ideological disconnect between the rank-and-file members and the party leadership. In fact, none of the other provincial Green leaders have gone on record to support this policy. The leader of the B.C. party, Andrew Weaver, has even gone as far to condemn the simple fact that such a policy was even debated.

[...]

One of the main criticisms leveled against Green parties is that we are one-issue parties that have few propositions beyond environmental issues. In the case of the Green Party of Canada, I agree with many of these criticisms and it is one of the many reasons the Green Party of Quebec has chosen to become an eco­socialist, feminist and multicultural party that does not back down from difficult or polarizing issues.

 

mimeguy

The policy is not polarizing by any means.  Until the publicity it was most likely unknown among the general membership who generally ignore the convention and are most likely unaware of what the policies of the Part really are.  The GPC boasts a membership of over 10,000 and on a recent account I understood the membership to be almost 20,000.  Apathy in the membership is the number one enemy of the GPC as a whole and as a result the Party leadership's steady march over the last 10 years to remove any open debate from visibility has been successful.  Less than 2000 votes were counted in the convention lead up poll.  Keep in mind that the GPC boasts that a 60% margin of approval is enough to adopt a policy automatically at the convention.  This isn't true really.  The convention attendees reserve the right to separate any policy for workshop or separate vote on the convention floor.  In general this has rarely happened.  Any policy receiving less than 60% is sent to workshop for final vote at the convention.  The resolution in question received about 58% approval falling just short of the margin but in all likelyhood would have been separated out at the convention anyway.  It received a clear majority on the floor of the convention after workshop and debate.  There is no more divisiveness with this policy than any other and I know from sponsoring foreign policy proposals that passed at previous conventions including the GPC withdrawal from NATO policy amendment.  

There are on average less than 2000 active members and this active membership has consistently rejected a delegate system or proxy vote. One member one vote.  The GPC has a good system in the pre-convention poll where debate is open 24/7 a couple of months prior to the opening of the convention.  All 10 - 20,000 members (depending on the actual number) can participate in open debate, ask questions etc.  In other words I can let my views be known at 6:00am while crossing my livingroom with a coffee in one hand and scratching my ass with the other and yet less than 10% of registered members participate.  An overwhelming majority of members simply refuse to bother.  This from a political party that laments that the electoral system and Canadian democracy is in trouble because not enough Canadians participate. Now apparently the policy is going to be reviewed after the leadership and shadow cabinet have supposedly received an overwhelming amount of messages of concern.  The majority of members don't even care who their local EDA is run by, who handles their finances, or who the shadow cabinet members are and often who federal councilors are.

So all of a sudden who actually forms this other side of the division?  No one really knows.  I suspect only a handful among the leadership who didn't like the policy or are running scared or perhaps a wack of members whose only news is from biased media upheld by that same small number people who are behind the opposition to the policy.  What is known is that Ms. May used her influence over the federal council which has historically been in conflict but united in their fear of losing Ms. May as leader because after 12 years of being in the public eye, with a growing membership, the sad reality is that the vast majority of that membership  doesn't really know or even cares who else makes up the GPC, what it's future leadership will look like, and certainly doesn't care who the next leader will be.  So when people say that Ms. May is the only GPC game in town.  They're right.  Not because she has abused her position.  She yields the authority and influence given to her through apathy and weak governance.

In 2010 the active membership voted without any serious debate or serious though (in my opinion) to wipe out years of policy and policy positions.  A party that can so readily wipe out and deny its past without any awareness from the majority of members, remain unfettered in its concern over internal democracy, cannot be surprised that its future is in doubt.

Whether a member supports the policy or not it passed all the hurdles of the process to reflect the views of those who care enough to show up.  It's the leadership's job to acknowledge it and move forward.  For Christ's sake the damn thing can be challenged in 2018 at the next convention so what's the real problem?    

mimeguy

Apologies for grammar mistakes and spelling errors.  Typical of when I rant. 

mimeguy

damn. double posted.

josh

Greens back away from supporting BDS. But that still doesn't satisfy the pro-illegal colonization crowd.

http://ipolitics.ca/2016/12/03/greens-vote-for-new-israel-policy-without...
/

ikosmos ikosmos's picture
ikosmos ikosmos's picture

rabble blogger: Green Party compromise on BDS motion offers win for everyone -- and plenty of confusion

more comments to follow but I thought I would just add the following to summarize the actions of Elizabeth May ...

Cuno Fischer wrote:
As soon as some question becomes clear, opponents arise who. on the pretext of novelty, try to confuse and muddle the issue.

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