Greens Criticize NDP Not Returning 'Leaders’ Courtesy' in By-election

Greens Criticize NDP Not Returning 'Leaders’ Courtesy' in By-election
Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on July 8, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Isaac Teo

Former Green leader criticized the New Democrats for not withdrawing their candidate in the upcoming Toronto Centre byelection, where the Greens’ new leader is campaigning.

Elizabeth May expressed her displeasure towards the NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Monday for not standing down his candidate running in the coming Toronto Centre byelection on Oct. 26—a return of “leader’s courtesy” which the Greens offered him during his 2019 general election in the Burnaby South riding.
A “leader’s courtesy” is a parliamentary tradition that allows parties to opt not to run their candidates in byelections where another party’s leading is running. It is rarely used in modern elections.

“Annamie Paul became leader on Saturday and now we’re in a situation of leader’s courtesy,” May said.

Paul is running for a seat in Toronto Centre, which was left vacant by former finance minister Bill Morneau after he resigned on Aug. 17 amid controversy over his relationship with WE Charity. If Paul wins the election in October, she will secure a fourth seat for the Greens in Parliament.

Toronto Centre is a Liberal stronghold, with that party winning the seat in every election since 1993.

May recounted how she extended help to Jagmeet Singh.

“Greens were strong in Burnaby South and when I approached him, I said, ‘Would you find it welcome if we offer leader’s courtesy so that we stand down so you can take your place in parliament?’” said May, adding that Singh replied “It’s a very classy thing” she was doing.

“He might have lost,” May said, emphasizing that Singh had “no roots” in Burnaby South riding.

Singh won the riding with 38 percent of the votes. The Conservative candidate took 31 percent and the Liberal candidate took 24 percent. In the 2015 general election, the Green Party garnered 2.8 percent of the votes.

May continued she would like NDP members to tell Singh “how classy” he is to now block Paul’s entry to federal politics.

 NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 1, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 1, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Jagmeet posted a congratulatory tweet Saturday to Brian Chang for being the NDP’s candidate to contest the Toronto Centre byelection.
Anne McGrath, national director of the NDP, said in a statement that Chang was chosen by members democratically and that he will not withdraw.

“Every Canadian deserves to vote for the party they believe in,” she said.

The NDP also pointed out that in 2019, the party did not ask for the Greens to avoid running a candidate against Singh.

The Liberals have nominated Marci Ien, who took a leave of absence as co-host of CTV's talk show The Social. Liberal party spokesman Braeden Caley confirmed Ien will remain on the ballot.
“Marci Ien's campaign in Toronto Centre is looking forward to a positive contrast of ideas with all of the other parties,” Caley said in an email.
According to Elections Canada, the Conservatives have nominated party member Benjamin Sharma as their candidate for Toronto Centre.
The People’s Party of Canada has chosen Baljit Bawa as their candidate whose core message is “individual freedom, personal responsibility, fairness and respect.” Party leader Maxime Bernier will be running for a seat in York Centre.

Paul says she is not surprised none of the other parties will stand down in Toronto Centre and that she is used to overcoming obstacles.

With files from The Canadian Press