High-profile resignations are forcing the Green Party to consider scaling back the leadership race

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In the wake of several high-profile resignations from its leadership committee, the federal Green Party is looking to narrow some aspects of its leadership race.

According to several Green Party sources, party officials are discussing how to run a leadership contest now that four members of the committee have resigned.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, told CBC News the party may hold fewer formal leadership events and is considering consolidating two rounds of voting into one.

The party was expected to announce the leadership finalists after the first round of voting on 14 October and then present its new leader on 19 November.

The Green Party’s federal council, the party’s governing body, has not yet made any decisions. The body is scheduled to meet next Wednesday. Interim leader Amita Kuttner told a news conference on Wednesday that the race is still on and the party will announce more details soon.

This month, Lorraine Rekmans stepped down from her role on the management committee and as chairman of the party. She cited the party’s refusal to pause the leadership race until it could investigate allegations of systemic discrimination in the party — allegations that emerged when Kuttner was misgendered at a leadership launch.

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CBC’s David Thurton talks to interim leader Amita Kuttner, outgoing party president Lorraine Rekmans and others about internal strife in the Green Party.

After Rekmans’ resignation, three other committee members — Natalie Odd, Michael MacLean and John Wilson — left their posts via email.

“I am surprised and disappointed to learn that (the leadership committee’s) recommendations to the Federal Council, on protecting LGBT+ members from potential harm during the leadership contest, were rejected,” said Wilson’s resignation email, seen by CBC News.

“We regret the unfortunate turn of events that has occurred. It is not what we envisioned,” said a joint resignation letter filed by Odd and MacLean and obtained by CBC News. “The operation of the competition is transferred to (De Grønne) employees, who will work with volunteers.”

Although Odd, MacLean and Wilson have left the committee, they retain their key roles on the federal council and with the Green Party Fund.

Sources tell the CBC that their departures undermine preparations for the leadership vote, which was to be conducted primarily online. When the leadership race was launched in August, the party promised it would be the most technologically advanced ever.

Virtual campaign events and the party’s website require a lot of technical and time-consuming work. But the Green Party of Canada is facing an economic crisis and relies on unpaid volunteers. Some of that expertise is now gone because of the recent layoffs, sources said.

MP Elizabeth May, the party’s former leader, is standing for the post of co-leader this time. She said the party must continue with the contest despite the setbacks.

“I was in the leadership race in 2006,” May said. “And we had fewer resources, fewer people, and we ran a very credible campaign and leadership contest with a debate in English in Calgary and a debate in French in Montreal. More bilingual debates in Ottawa.”

Former Green Party interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts said the party should be able to continue the race without too much trouble because most of the hard work — setting the rules, vetting the candidates — has already been done.

“The leadership organizing committee has done the heavy lifting,” Roberts said. “So I think whoever comes in has a very strong foundation.”

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