A little over a week ago Annamie Paul, a 47-year old lawyer, international affairs expert, and social entrepreneur from Toronto became the first ever Black leader of a mainstream Canadian federal party in the history of the country when she won the Greens’ 2020 leadership contest with 12,090 votes, beating seven other contenders.
Armed with what some have referred to as breathtaking professional credentials for a Canadian politician, the victorious candidate holds a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University, a Law Degree from the University of Ottawa, and speaks four languages. She has extensive professional experience working in international affairs including in global conflict prevention, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Canada’s diplomatic mission to the European Union (EU). In addition, she is the founder and former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership (CCPL) and the co-founder and co-director of the Barcelona International Public Policy Hub (BIPP HUB), as well as the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards.
Paul’s leadership candidacy was endorsed by provincial Green Party leaders like BC’s Sonia Fursteneau and Nova Scotia’s Dr. Thomas Trappenberg as well as by numerous other figures in Canadian politics including various former candidates for the role. News of her victory were received with great enthusiasm on social media.
In her remarkable Saturday night victory speech, Paul described the outcome of the leadership race as “a historic moment”, emphasizing the idea that the Greens are leading the way in Canadian politics and thanking the shoulders of the people she stood upon that night, from Elizabeth May to Jean Augustine and Viola Desmond, for opening the doors to inclusion and diversity in politics and society at large.
Among other things, on her victory night she promised to be a strong voice for Canadians in politics and to work to get Greens elected because she and her party know that “people are better off in Canada when there are more Green Party members representing them”. In her speech, she also made reference to the two existential challenges of our time, the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, asking Canadians to reflect on the question of what a human life is worth and stressing the need to “do better”.
The new federal Green Party leader also took the opportunity to comment on the work of other federal parties facing these unprecedented challenges, regrettably pointing out that most parties “are simply out of ideas and are intellectually exhausted”. Unshaken and surely confident in her abilities and the future of the Green Party in Canadian politics, Annamie Paul asserted the need to match a party to the needs of this moment, and pledged the Green Party as the right party for this moment in history.
“THE GREEN PARTY REMAINS THE ONLY PARTY THAT HAS A TARGET AND A PLAN THAT CORRESPONDS WITH THE SCIENCE AND CAN GET US TO WHERE WE NEED TO BE TO SAVE THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET.”– Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada
As she sets out to make the Greens the most diverse, democratic, and daring force in Canadian politics, her green policies are based on the members of her party’s Green vision to tackle the climate emergency and build a social safety net to ensure every person in Canada has access to services that are their fundamental rights. Indeed, her green policies represent a mix between environmental and socially focused initiatives that include accelerating our transition to a green economy, land protection and nature conservation, and a national ban on fracking, as well as a guaranteed liveable income, dismantling systemic racism in policing, and reinforcing health care.
Moving forward, Paul will be running in the parliamentary constituency of Toronto Centre in the October by-election taking place later this month. She will be running for the same seat she lost in a federal election last year – where she resulted unsuccessful after coming in fourth and losing to then-Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who earlier this year stepped down from the role and is not running again this year.