National Newswatch

OTTAWA — Missing ballots and donations, combined with last-minute rule changes, have two contenders for the federal Green party's leadership questioning the legitimacy of the race.

Leadership hopeful Glen Murray said Wednesday that the final results, to be tallied Saturday, will likely be announced before the full picture is known about how many of his campaign donations never got properly forwarded from the central party.

The Green party said Tuesday it accidentally kept thousands of dollars in donations that were supposed to go to Murray, leaving him with significantly less money to use for campaigning.

And on top of missing money, his campaign is now hearing from some people who said they signed up to vote for him but never got an email to tell them how to do so.

More than 99 per cent of the Green's 35,000 members opted to vote electronically in the race, and were to be sent an email telling them how to vote when balloting opened on Sept. 26.

Murray said his campaign has not yet confirmed "anecdotal" reports of supporters not getting ballots.  He urged patience as things get figured out but could not keep the disappointment out of his voice as he acknowledged there may be no way for the party rectify what has happened.

"I've had better weeks to be honest," he said.

He said his campaign is planning to meet Sunday to try and get a final handle on how much money got donated to him, but was accidentally kept by the party. That will however be the day after the winner is announced.

"That is a problem," he said. "The party has to have a serious conversation about the impact of all of these things."

Another leadership hopeful, Montreal immigration lawyer Meryam Haddad,  said she is also getting complaints about supporters not getting ballots. Haddad, who last week successfully appealed a party decision to expel her from the contest, is livid about everything that has happened.

"Of course it changes the results," said Haddad,  of Murray's money problem.

She is looking at whether some of her donations were also not properly forwarded by the party, but the ballot issue is a huge concern to her.

Party spokeswoman Rosie Emery acknowledged there have been some issues with ballots. 

"Where there is a genuine issue, we're reaching out to people," she said.

But she said sometimes people thought they had signed up but never got a confirmation email so their membership never went through. Other times people are finding the ballot email went to their junk folder by accident.

Haddad is equally livid that the day before voting began, the leadership committee ruled that members who had recently let their membership lapse could still vote, even if they didn't renew it before the Sept. 3 deadline to be eligible to vote.

Haddad, who is new to the Green movement, said it is unfair that former members can renew their membership at any time and still get to vote but new members had to join by Sept. 3 or they can't.

Emery said the committee affirmed the voting rules for lapsed members after some candidates asked for a clarification.

Murray said the donation problem likely stems from multiple causes, including the party's insistence that it control fundraising, meaning it collected the money and then forwarded it on to the designated candidates after taking a 25 per cent cut.

He said some paper forms may have been incorrectly filled out but that the online system for donating was confusing and easy for people to not properly designate where they wanted their donation to go.

Murray said the scale of the problem isn't fully understood. He said they found almost $10,000 in missing donations at first, and another $5,000 Wednesday.

The party hasn't yet responded to a request for an explanation about the missing money, how much it thinks is involved, or what it intends to do about it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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