Voters in Ontario’s Davenport riding in Toronto not have a Green Party candidate to back in next month’s provincial election after contender Nafeesa Alibhai quit over a recent statement from the Ontario Greens that cites research by a pro-Israel organization.
In a Twitter thread Wednesday, Alibhai said an Ontario Green Party statement reacting to B’nai Brith Canada’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents was the “final straw for me in an already very conflicting campaign.”
“To the constituents 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 usually are not what they practice, and I felt it might be dishonest of me to pretend otherwise.”
Mike Schreiner, the party’s leader and the one member within 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.” The report found there was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents within the country last yr.
B’nai Brith Canada has previously been criticized for its methods. Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) researched the organization’s audits in 2021 and located its approach lacks transparency and relies on a definition that “purposefully conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel and Zionism.”
IJV says anti-Semitism is a serious issue that should be fought but that it is usually being weaponized by pro-Israel groups in an effort to silence Palestinians and their allies.
Alibhai’s Twitter thread included screenshots of piece of email between themself and unknown others within the party, including a message from Tuesday during which they ask for the reference to B’nai Brith’s report back to be pulled with an apology and explanation.
The last note from the party indicates it didn’t expect to achieve an agreement with Alibhai.
In response to Alibhai’s announcement, the Greens issued a brief statement during which campaign chair Becky Smit said the party had hoped to maintain Alibhai on the ballot.
“Nonetheless, in the long run, Nafeesa felt they might higher express their opinions outside the confines of an election campaign,” she said.
The incident echoes infighting that gained steam ahead of last summer’s federal election when Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, formerly a Green Party member, crossed the ground to affix the Liberals following a public dispute among the many Greens over the party’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.