Kitchener-Waterloo

Green MP Mike Morrice 'disappointed by party infighting' but has no plans to walk

After staff sent a letter to the Green Party's federal council warning he could potentially leave over internal politics, Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice says he does not plan to sit in the House of Commons as an independent and his focus is on representing his Ontario riding.

Morrice says as Green MP he's 'best positioned to advocate for my riding's priorities'

Portrait of a man with beard who is wearing glasses, a hat and a blue button-up shirt.
Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice said in a statement on Monday that he has no plans to walk away from his party over infighting. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Green Party MP Mike Morrice says he's "disappointed" by internal bickering within his party, but he has no plans to sit in the House of Commons as an independent member.

Morrice, who represents the southern Ontario riding of Kitchener Centre and was first elected to the seat in 2021, said in a statement to CBC News on Monday that his focus is on his constituents and he plans to "continue to put them first."

"While I'm disappointed by party infighting, I still believe it's as a Green MP that I'm best positioned to advocate for my riding's priorities and I am not planning to leave the party. With the leadership race proceeding and a slate of qualified candidates, I am hopeful for the party's continued renewal," his statement said.

"The Green Party has challenges to face, including addressing systemic issues to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers, rebuilding financial stability, and earning back the trust of members," he added.

"With the existential threat of the climate crisis, I believe the party and new leader should also be focused on the issues Canadians care about most — we have no time to waste."

Party president resigns

The party has faced infighting since before the 2021 federal election. Annamie Paul stepped down as leader in the days following the election and cited internal party politics which included calls for a confidence vote and leadership review during the campaign. 

In December 2021, the party said it was looking at ways to cut costs to avoid insolvency and that included potentially closing its Ottawa headquarters.

Then earlier this month on Sept. 3, during an online event organized by the party, a presentation slide introducing interim leader Amita Kuttner misgendered the party's leader, said a group that includes current MPs, leadership candidates and Kuttner. Kuttner, 30, is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they.

The "solidarity statement" dated Sept. 6 said misgendering Kuttner was "deeply distressing" to the interim leader and party members and also that it was "no slip of the tongue."

Green Party interim leader Amita Kuttner speaks with the media in Ottawa on Dec. 1, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The misgendering of Kuttner "was but the latest in a number of similar behavioural patterns that Kuttner has faced throughout their tenure," the Sept. 6 statement said.

"When such incidents repeat themselves, they form a pattern of harassment which we, co-signatories, will not tolerate, regardless of intention," the statement said. "This cannot happen again."

The statement also said it appreciated immediate apologies made by Green Party president Lorraine Rekmans and leadership contest co-chair Natalie Odd and that they were not responsible for misgendering Kuttner.

Then over the weekend, Rekmans announced she was resigning from the party.

In the resignation letter Rekmans, the party's first Indigenous president, described her time as party president "turbulent." She said she had hoped to help the party "rise from the ashes" after the 2021 federal election and that at the outset of the leadership race, she felt challenged by leadership hopefuls and interim leader that her "governance as president has had no effect."

"I am sensitive to these criticisms that sound like accusations of failure," Rekmans said.

"We were on the verge of something great. Now I see that, for me, the dream is dead."

'A pretty serious threat'

On Sunday it was revealed a staff member in Morrice's office had sent a letter to the party's federal council.

Elizabeth May and Mike Morrice are the Green Party's two sitting MPs in the House of Commons. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In the letter, Morrice and former leader and current MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands Elizabeth May warned they were both "prepared to leave the party and sit as independents" if the party chose to suspend the leadership race or close the party's Ottawa headquarters. May and Morrice's letter said doing either would "cause irreversible damage to the party."

Rekmans confirmed several councillors received an email from Morrice's staff and called it "a pretty serious threat."

"I really think it is a serious infraction of [party] rules," Rekmans said.

All of this is taking place as the party searches for a new leader. There are six candidates, four of whom are running as dual-candidates so they would co-lead the party if they win. 

Those running for leadership are:

  • Sarah Gabrielle Baron.
  • Simon Gnocchini-Messier.
  • May with Jonathan Pedneault.
  • Anna Keenan and Chad Walcott.

In a joint statement on Monday, Keenan and Walcott said an internal investigation into what happened to Kuttner needs to happen, that "our party needs to get its own house in order," but they also want to "focus our energy on the external issues that matter to Canadians."

In an interview, Pedneault said the Green Party is "much bigger than any of the leadership contestants, than any president and then the two MPs. It is full of members who have kept this party alive through numerous crises."

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