Ousted Green candidate says he is sorry for comment but insists it was not racist
Published Thursday, July 16, 2020 1:27PM EDT
OTTAWA -- The Green party has shown the door to one of its leadership candidates, saying several of his recent comments do not align with the party's values on diversity.
Dylan Perceval-Maxwell was removed on July 8 from the race to succeed Elizabeth May as the party's leader.
The party says "several" recent statements by Perceval-Maxwell are inappropriate and the party's leadership contest authority decided it would not stay silent and allow him to continue his campaign.
Perceval-Maxwell appealed the decision and lost.
The Montreal environmental activist says in a Facebook post shared Wednesday that he is apologetic for saying in a June 23 debate that police should be forced to pay $20 to every person of colour they stop, as compensation for the trauma and an incentive for police to think twice before stopping someone.
Montreal lawyer Meryam Haddad, who is also running for the leadership, told Perceval-Maxwell during the debate that the comment was "super racist."
Perceval-Maxwell said in his Facebook statement that putting the dollar figure out there was a mistake but also shared the Oxford dictionary definition of racism to defend himself.
"According to this definition, my idea was not 'racist' as was claimed during that debate," he said. The idea is not prejudiced or antagonistic against members of minority groups, he said.
He said he agrees that he should not have included a specific dollar figure on compensation, and said he has apologized many times for the comment. He also said that attacking people who are not "actively" engaged in oppression is how genocides happen.
Perceval-Maxwell added that his "dear Jewish mother" survived the Holocaust by hiding in a garbage can in Hungary and that he firmly believes "standing up for the rights of all regardless of race and class is the thing we have to do."
In its written statement, the Green party said it expects "those who are called out for making discriminatory statements will reflect, learn and commit to doing better."
"The party respects every individual's right of free speech but we will not provide a platform to normalize racism and discrimination," the statement says. "We are committed to creating a forum where contestants can debate the solutions that Canada needs to survive and thrive in the 21st century."
Haddad told The Canadian Press she knows the party got many complaints about the comments and that she is happy to see the party take quick and decisive action.
"It shows that our organization will just not tolerate someone who makes racist comments," she said.
Haddad also said Perceval-Maxwell's attempts to apologize are not thorough enough.
"When people that live racism tell him that it's a racist comment, like he should apologize and he never apologized properly," she said. "He apologized for me to feel that way."
Perceval-Maxwell acknowledged many people do not think his apologies are full and sincere. He said he is relieved to not be in the race any more because he can now get more sleep and exercise.
There remain nine people in the contest to find a permanent successor for Elizabeth May. The race will be decided by online and mail-in ballots this fall. The winner is to be announced the first weekend of October.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.