Ontario Greens lose young Toronto candidate over Israeli-Palestinian stance

Voters in Ontario’s Davenport, who run in Toronto, will no longer have a Green Party candidate to back in next month’s provincial election after contender Nafeesa Alibhai quit over a recent statement by the Ontario Greens citing research by a pro-Israel organization.

In a Twitter thread Wednesday, Alibhai said a statement from Ontario’s Green Party, responding to B’nai Brith Canada’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents, was the “final straw for me in an already very contradictory campaign”.

“To the voters of #DavenportTO, I’m sorry you don’t have a Green candidate to represent you,” they wrote on Twitter. “In my experience, the values ​​the GPO preaches are not what they practice, and I felt it would be unfair of me to do anything else.”

Mike Schreiner, the party’s leader and the only member in the last provincial legislature, responded in an April 28 statement to a report by B’nai Brith Canada, which describes itself as “a staunch defender of the State of Israel.” According to the report, there was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the country last year.

B’nai Brith Canada has been criticized for his methods before. Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) investigated the organization’s 2021 audits and found that its approach lacks transparency and is based on a definition that “purposefully mixes anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel and Zionism.”

IJV says that anti-Semitism is a serious problem to be combated, but it is also being armed by pro-Israel groups to silence the Palestinians and their allies.

Alibhai’s Twitter thread contains screenshots of email correspondence between themselves and unknown others in the party, including a post from Tuesday asking for the reference to B’nai Brith’s report to be removed with an apology and explanation.

The party’s latest note shows that it did not expect to reach an agreement with Alibhai.

In response to Alibhai’s announcement, the Greens released a brief statement in which campaign chairman Becky Smit said the party had hoped to keep Alibhai from voting.

“In the end, however, Nafeesa felt they could better express their views outside the confines of an election campaign,” she said.

The incident reflects the power struggle that gained momentum ahead of last summer’s federal election, when Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, formerly a member of the Green Party, crossed the floor to join the Liberals after a public dispute between the Greens on the party’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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