Politics

Green Party leadership contender courts 'disgruntled' NDPers

Dimitri Lascaris — the newest entrant into the federal Green Party leadership race — has his eyes on attracting voters from the NDP to grow the Greens.

Dimitri Lascaris wants disaffected new democrats and left-wing Liberals to find a new home in the Greens

Dimitri Lascaris is running to be the next leader of the Green Party of Canada. (Submitted/ Vadim Daniel Photography )

Dimitri Lascaris — the newest entrant into the federal Green Party leadership race — has his eyes on attracting voters from the NDP to grow the Greens.

Lascaris said many discontented New Democrats are disappointed the party hasn't pursued more aggressive taxation policies on the wealthy, outright opposed B.C.'s Coastal Gas Link pipeline and condemned the use of force against Wet'suwet'en protesters and their supporters. 

Even though the NDP was one of the first to call for an independent investigation into the RCMP's handling of the Wet'suwet'en blockade, Lascaris said the party hasn't spoken out loudly enough.

"I think the NDP base is quite disgruntled," Lascaris said. "They don't feel that the NDP leadership reflects their values, and they are reluctant to come over to the Green Party because they have a perception that the Green Party is anti-labour."

Lascaris said he will be campaigning over the next six months on reforms aimed at increasing union membership, raising the minimum wage and pushing for rules that prevent the use of replacement workers during strikes through what's called anti-scab legislation.

"If we start to persuade the NDP (voter) base that we are actually pro-labour, I think we could see a huge shift from the NDP," Lascaris said.

Lascaris also said there are gains to be made from the left-wing of the Liberal party disillusioned with the party's action on climate change.

Lascaris ran unsuccessfully for the Greens in the 2015 federal election and served as a shadow cabinet minister without holding a seat in the House of Commons. After a career as a class-action lawyer, he's currently focused on activism and pro-bono work in Montreal.

Cap on wealth

Although the 56 year-old doesn't shy away from the label eco-socialist, Lascaris said he prefers to be known for his policies. In addition to his pro-labour stance, Lascaris wants to increase income tax for wealthy Canadians, place a cap on the accumulation of wealth, end homelessness by declaring housing a human right and impose "dramatic reductions" in defence spending.

Lascaris had faced controversy in the past for comments that he made in 2018 when he accused two Liberal MPs of being more devoted to Israel than the Canadian government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a number of federal political leaders condemned Lascaris's comments as "anti-SemItic." 

Lascaris, in a follow-up interview Sunday with CBC, said he stands by his 2018 comments. The leadership hopeful emphasized his criticism of the MPs had nothing to do with their race but entirely with their record of supporting human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The Green Party leadership race began in February and will end in the fall at the party's convention in Charlottetown Oct. 2 to 4. 

Here is a list of candidates, in alphabetical order, who have declared they're running:

  • Judy Green, a former candidate for the Greens in West-Nova, N.S.
  • Amita Kuttner, a former candidate for the Greens in Burnaby North- Seymour, B.C.
  • Lascaris, a former candidate for the Greens in London West, Ont.
  • David Merner, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C.
  • Annamie Paul, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Toronto Centre.
  • Julie Tremblay-Cloutier, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Mirabel, Que.
  • Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec.

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.

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