Selfie taken by Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, left, and Mandolyn Jonasson having fun at a women’s conference in Vancouver
Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?
Questions of impropriety at the Green Party of Canada’s nomination meeting in June erupted this week when one of the candidates went public with allegations that the vote was corrupted.
In a post to the Comox Valley Politics Facebook page, Mandolyn Jonasson, who had sought the party’s nomination, said the Greens’ nomination process was tainted and because of that party Leader Elizabeth May personally recommended a re-vote.
Jonasson, a Qualicum Beach business owner who was solicited by the party to seek the nomination told Decafnation on Saturday that at least two confirmed party members received double ballots in their voting envelopes at the nomination meeting, which was held during the Courtenay-Alberni riding’s annual general meeting on June 15.
She says organizers did not announce an exact vote count in contravention of party procedures nor did they keep any record of results. That has made it impossible to verify that the number of counted ballots equalled the number of members at the party’s Annual General Meeting, or the margin of victory.
The ballot box wasn’t continually monitored throughout the voting process, nor did candidates have representatives present during the count, according to Jonasson.
Jonasson was told she lost the nomination to Wood by just four votes.
But it wasn’t the mistakes made during the nomination voting that concern Jonasson the most.
“Mistakes can happen. It’s how you rectify and handle them afterwards,” she told Decafnation. “It’s the fact that they (GPC officials) were complicit in acknowledging the mistakes and then suppressing it and trying to suppress me or anyone else in the party.”
When Jonasson tried to appeal the nomination results, she and others were advised by officials of the party’s electoral district association (EDA) to direct her appeal to Liberty Bradshaw, local EDA president.
But she later received notice from the GPC national office saying the EDA officials were confused about the appeal protocol and that she would have to appeal through the Green Party’s own ombudsperson, which she did.
The Green Party’s national Executive Director Emily McMillan told Decafnation that Jonasson’s appeal was rejected because “it was not brought to our attention within the time frame (72 hours) or to the right people (Green Party ombuds).”
“These were inexperienced volunteers (at the EDA nomination meeting), McMillan told Decafnation in a telephone interview. “Doing the best they could.”
In a follow-up email, McMillan said the party determined that minor errors in the conduct of the meeting did not invalidate or have any conclusive impact on the outcome of the vote, and that Sean Wood is the properly nominated GPC candidate for Courtenay—Alberni.
“Ms. Jonasson was provided with a detailed report to this effect. This was done despite the fact that Ms. Jonasson’s complaint itself was technically invalid as it was submitted six weeks following the nomination meeting — well outside of the 72 hour window allowed for appeals. Ms. Jonasson was unable to justify this delay,” McMillan said.
But the party did an investigation anyway. A report of that investigation from Federal Green Party President Jean-Luc Cooke has not been released to the public. Jonasson has a copy but is bound by a non-disclosure agreement to maintain its confidentiality.
GPC official Rosie Emery initially told Decafnation that Jonasson had no non-disclosure agreement. But Christina Winter, campaign advisor for Wood, indicated there was an NDA.
Jonasson maintains that Elizabeth May told her in person during an Equal Voice conference in Vancouver that she recommended a revote in the Courtenay-Alberni riding and that Wood should step down. But the party leader also said she couldn’t interfere because the GPC is a bottom-up, not a top-down organization.
Wood has not responded to several attempts for comment on this story.
An email sent by Kate Storey on July 25 to all members of the party’s electoral district association, including Don Munroe who resigned over the nomination irregularities, and Sean Wood, urged the candidate to step down.
“I can’t tell the EDA what to do … but, in my opinion, if the candidate wants to improve his public image and get the support of the whole EDA behind him, then he might want to step down and ask for a new nomination meeting. It would clear away the uncertainty and would help his campaign,” Storey said.
Cumberland Councillor Vicky Brown, who attended the meeting, recalls that after members voted, the ballot box was taken into a room, but that there was no call for scrutineers.
“I thought the vote was handled very loosely, not secure at all. There could have easily been several people with double (or more) ballots in their envelopes,” Brown told Decafnation. “Because there were no numbers given, and I don’t know if anyone counted the total voters in the room, it’s difficult to know whether the vote count was accurate.”
Brown was one of many who emailed the EDA afterward to ask these questions and received no response.
“Because of this, the nomination process was suspect to me and I was left with an uneasy feeling about the whole thing,” Brown said. “I’m disappointed that the riding association couldn’t find a way to resolve this in a transparent way.”
At one point, on July 20, Jonasson received notice from the Courtenay-Alberni EDA that there would be a revote and an official went so far as to ask if she’d be willing to run a second time. But that was never brought up again, Jonasson said.
Jonasson, who still supports Green Party policies, said her reason for going public now was not personal, but because she cares about democracy.
“I’m not going to be bullied,” she said. “I know I’m martyring myself, they’re going to try and discredit me. But there’s a lot of people who saw this and know about it but don’t want to put themselves on the line.”
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