On being called ‘vile’ by Elizabeth May

Does Elizabeth May owe me an apology? You decide.

Here is what happened: May called me “vile” in order to curry favor with the individual largely responsible for the Green Party unraveling.

After Annamie Paul’s senior advisor Noah Zatzman threatened to defeat Green MPs and said they — as well as Jagmeet Singh, Liberal MPs and others — engaged in “appalling anti-Semitism” I brought Zatzman’s anti-Palestinian Facebook post to wide attention. In a senior Green Party chat Zatzman reportedly complained about my article headlined “Crazed anti-Palestinian Green adviser must be removed”. As Jewish Insider recently reported, May responded to Zatzman: “Just to you.. Yves Engler is vile.. but we do need to have Annamie make a clear statement so it does not look like we are divided… do you have a plan?? Xo [hugs and kisses].”

Presumably, May, the former Green Party leader, was playing both sides of the fence. At that point she was still close with her anti-Palestinian, pro-imperialist and anti-Green party protégé Annamie Paul. It wasn’t until Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the floor three weeks later that May finally distanced herself from Zatzman’s comments and actions. And it took a disastrous election result, Paul’s repeated attacks against the party and her delayed resignation as leader for May to finally speak out publicly about her protégé sabotaging the Green Party.

The downward spiral caused by Zatzman was entirely predictable. In my initial article about Zatzman I concluded, “If Paul doesn’t immediately remove Zatzman it suggests she’s more committed to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and war crimes than her own career.” A week later I predicted that Zatzman’s repeated public attacks would lead Green MPs to leave the party. (I erroneously suggested the NDP would be the beneficiary).

Zatzman drove Atwin out of the party and stirred the internal Green party turmoil that greatly weakened MP Paul Manly’s re-election bid. In the Jewish Insider article Zatzman also boasts that he campaigned in the recent federal election to defeat Manly.

Am I vile? Again, you the reader can decide for yourself.

The 17 years I’ve spent as an activist and author exposing Canada’s role in undermining Haitian sovereignty and democracy? The dozens of articles and book I co-authored on the environmental destruction wrought by the private automobile? How about my book detailing Canada’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonization of Africa? Maybe it’s my role in exposing and pushing back against the anti-Palestinian lobby in Canada?

Two decades ago, I was elected vice president on a Concordia Student Union executive that successfully pushed for an environmental audit of the university, stood up for Palestinians and challenged the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Subsequently, I played a role in establishing Block the Empire, Haiti Action Montréal, Canada Haiti Action Network and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute. I also spent a couple years pushing a socialist and environmentalist perspective as a researcher for the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

May didn’t consider me “vile” when she attended the Victoria launch of my The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy. Understandably, she might be a little miffed at me for publishing a half dozen articles critical of her support for private cars using a Montréal bridge for free, aligning with Canada’s effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government and backing expanding Canadian naval capacities. Most of all, I challenged May’s wildly antidemocratic move to force a special convention of the Green Party in a bid to overturn members’ voting to support those facing the most flagrant ongoing European colonialism. In 2016 I coordinated a public letter signed by Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Bruce Cockburn, Yann Martel, Rawi Hage, Richard Parry (Arcade Fire) and many others, calling on the Greens “not to succumb to political pressure to weaken or reverse the vote to support Palestinian rights.” Together with grassroots Green Party organizing, the letter led May to a compromise Palestine resolution on the eve of a special general convention she instigated to overturn members’ democratic decision.

Does any of this make me vile?

My hope is that most readers and Green Party supporters would be more likely to describe May’s support for Annamie Paul and “hugs and kisses” to Noah Zatzman as “vile” than anything I have written or done.

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