Green Party of Canada president Paul Estrin, who wrote a post on the party’s blog supportive of Israel in its fight against Hamas, has resigned under pressure from the party’s executive board.
Soon after the post’s publication, Elizabeth May, the Green Party of Canada’s political leader and a member of parliament, quickly distanced herself from Estrin.
“His views are contrary to Green Party of Canada position. We support peace. We condemn violence,” May wrote on Twitter in response Estrin blog post, which has since been removed from the party’s website.
According to Estrin, members of the board expressed their displeasure with his post, titled “Why Gaza Makes Me Sad,” at a regularly scheduled board meeting on July 30.
Then on August 5, the board called a special meeting specifically to deal with the matter. Estrin said that at that meeting, the board asked him to step down, making it clear he would effectively be kicked out should he refuse to go voluntarily.
‘When I understood that all but one person on the board wanted me out, I could no longer be captain of the team’
The National Post reported that Julian Morelli, director of communications for the party, said that Estrin resigned of his own accord after acknowledging that his blog post caused discord and confusion among party members.
“It was nothing to do with his opinion or beliefs. It has to do with his role as the party president. There’s separation … between the political and the actual organization. He doesn’t have a role in policy,” Morelli said.
“I went in to the meeting thinking I would fight it, but when I understood that all but one person on the board wanted me out, I could no longer be captain of the team,” Estrin said.
Estrin expected a reaction to his blog post, but he is surprised by the extent of the negative response.
“The Green Party supposedly welcomes diversity of opinion, so I was just giving a perspective that I felt others weren’t,” he said. “As president, I didn’t want to allow for such a lopsided balance when it came to understanding the Israel-Gaza conflict.”
Estrin thinks he would still be president if he had taken a pro-Palestinian stance.
“If I had spoken for the other side, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” he said.
Estrin does not agree with the Green Party’s policy of “engaged neutrality” when it comes to the Middle East conflict.
“It’s really just the practice of a double standard,” he said.
Estrin said he was deeply disappointed by the actions of the board, which he believes ignored all his efforts on behalf of the party, including highly successful fundraising.
“They are of a stripe of being anti-Israel, anti-their Jewish president, and anti-all my hard work,” he said.
Estrin is also deeply concerned by what he views as a lack of true democracy within the party.
“I wrote that I feel horrible about the situation of the Gazans, and I explained why and I criticized Hamas,” he said.
“You need to understand both sides if you are going to engage in neutrality.”