Green Party leadership hopeful Alex Tyrrell should not have been kicked out of the federal party, says an internal party report obtained by CBC news.
“The process of expelling Tyrrell from membership in the GPC was flawed,” says one section of the report, which was produced by the Green Party’s ombuds and appeal committee.
“We do not agree that Tyrrell’s conduct merits expulsion.”
Tyrrell was expelled from the party in July after making what the committee acknowledges was a series of inflammatory claims about the war in Ukraine and comments that denigrated some in the party. But the appropriate action, the report says, would have been a penalty short of expulsion.
The report, which is marked confidential, was produced on Aug. 28 and is not binding on party leadership.
Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, made a bid to run for the federal leadership of the Greens in 2021 and was planning a second run when he was expelled.
The federal Greens said they kicked him out because he violated the party’s code of conduct with his controversial statements about the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s most recent demands for a neutral and non-nuclear status for Ukraine, its demilitarization, its denazification, as well as the recognition of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk are reasonable demands that should be accepted by the Western countries and the Ukrainian government.
“I think that it was profoundly undemocratic and I think that it’s really unfortunate what’s taken place,” Tyrrell said.
Tyrrell was also accused within the party of libelling former Green party leader Elizabeth May. In 2019, he accused May of pushing a “pro-tar sands” policy that would extend the life of the oilsands by investing in refineries and upgrading.
The ombuds report concluded that the process used to revoke Tyrrell’s membership was flawed because he was given only three days to prepare a defence and wasn’t provided with the full allegations against him. The committee’s report also points to an unnamed federal councillor who submitted the complaint against Tyrrell and participated in his ejection from the party.
“Anyone who signed a request for a membership review of Tyrrell should not have been allowed to vote on a motion to impose a penalty on Tyrrell for problematic conduct,” says the report.
Jean-Charles Pelland, the Quebec federal representative on the party council, submitted the complaint and participated in the process to expel Tyrrell.
In an email to CBC News, Pelland said he did not cast a vote to decide Tyrrell’s fate — but he also did not recuse himself from the discussions about it.
“Since Alex Tyrrell is a Quebec member and most complaints about his behaviour came from Quebec members, it was my duty as Quebec rep to participate in the discussion of M. Tyrrell’s potential expulsion,” Pelland said.
The committee report isn’t the only one to raise red flags about the process that led to Tyrrell’s expulsion.
CBC obtained another internal report that the party’s executive requested ahead of the federal council’s decision on Tyrrell’s membership. According to that report, Pelland alleged that Tyrrell libelled several party members and brought the party into disrepute with his comments on the war in Ukraine.
Some critics said his comments seemed to express sympathy for Russia.
In the end, the July report submitted to members of the party’s federal council did not recommend the party proceed with Tyrrell’s membership review.
The report’s author, Saul Bottcher, told CBC News that in the course of his investigation he found that some of the allegations against Tyrrell “were baseless.”
In his statement, Pelland said that although federal councillors may seek input from others, their decisions aren’t dictated by reports submitted to the federal council.
“In the end, it is the Federal Council that determines if there are grounds for a member expulsion,” Pelland said in his email.
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Bottcher said the process that expelled Tyrrell left him without the time and information about the allegations he needed to defend himself. He said it appears to be part of a pattern of behaviour which sees senior Greens failing to follow their own rules.
“There have been those of us on the inside that have been trying to fix that problem,” Bottcher told CBC.
“But I’m speaking to you today because I’ve come to the conclusion that [it] can’t be fixed and this sort of thing happens over and over.”
Bottcher has since left the party — one of a series of recent high-level departures. Lorraine Rekmans, the party’s first Indigenous president, quit her post and the party in September, citing issues with candidates and the federal council.
Now estranged from the Greens, Rekmans told CBC News that resignation wasn’t her first. Rekmans revealed she quit briefly in July after the council voted to expel Tyrrell.
Rekmans described the July vote as an “abuse of process” that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. Rekmans said she reconsidered her earlier resignation after some within the party begged her to stay.
“And I really felt the great responsibility to not hurt the Green Party’s image … and I really felt a lot of pressure to stay to protect the party’s reputation,” Rekmans told CBC, adding she’s “sorry” she withdrew her resignation at the time.