Former Green party councillor sues members of party watchdog committee for defamation

Politics

The authors of a leaked internal Green Party report that accused high-ranking members and the party itself of racism and transphobia are being sued for defamation.

Then-Green Party Leader Annamie Paul stands at the podium as she concedes defeat in her riding of Toronto Centre on election night in Toronto on Monday, September 20, 2021.(Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The authors of a leaked internal Green Party report that accused party members of racism and transphobia are being sued for defamation.

Beverly Eert, a former member of the party's federal council, is taking current and former members of the party's ombuds and appeal committee to court. Eert served on the governing body for four years, first under leader Elizabeth May and then under her successor, Annamie Paul.

In a statement of claim, Eert alleges that the report made numerous allegations "falsely and maliciously" and that the authors shared it with two dozen people in the expectation that "certain recipients" would "re-publish" it widely.

The statement of claim alleges that summaries of the report were published on Slack, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other digital platforms.

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

The court document names Ben Petkau, Sara Golling and Kathleen Dewitt as defendants. The three authors declined to comment because the matter is before the court.

The party's ombuds and appeal committee receives and investigates complaints from party members. In April, the committee received a complaint from a party member after the Toronto Star published an articled headlined: "Senior Green officials are sabotaging the first Black woman to lead a Canadian political party, 'disgusted' insiders say."

The committee produced an internal report. In it, the committee alleged that the party's interim executive director Dana Taylor, Eert and another federal councillor, Kate Storey, denied that systemic racism was a problem within the Greens. The report also alleged that Eert and Storey created a toxic dynamic on the federal council.

"We note the many councillor and staff resignations," the report said. It also cited "media leaks of council discussions and communications, primary evidence of mistreatment of key staff members by councillors, the need for a conflict resolution consultant in a council meeting, a failure to achieve movement on key issues."

The report claims that racist comments, transphobic statements and misgendering (failing to use a person's preferred pronouns) were commonplace in party circles. The report did not cite specific examples.

The committee's report was based on testimony from 45 people and nearly 100 documents. CBC and other media outlets obtained a copy of the committee's report.

In her statement of claim, Eert said the report's claims were "made with malice knowing that they were false, or in careless disregard as to whether or not they were true."

The Green Party's director of communications, John Chenery, said the party "has no comment at this time." Eert declined to comment because the matter is before the courts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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