Green Party leader, Annamie Paul, announced her resignation as the leader of the Green party on 28 September 2021. In the recent federal election, the Green Party lost popularity among the voters compared to the 2019 results. Paul did not defeat Liberal incumbent, Marci Ien, who was riding ahead of her for Toronto Centre MP.
It was a disappointing result for Paul who won the party’s leadership bid in October 2020 as the first Black Canadian and Jewish women to lead a federal party. She was extremely heartbroken for Green Party’s poor showing. “It has been the worst period in my life,” she said.
Born and raised in Canada, Paul’s parents immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean in the 1960s. Paul was engaged in public activities from an very young age. After graduating from University of Ottawa with a Bachelor’s degree in Laws, she went to the United States and completed a Master’s program at Princeton University majoring in Public Affairs. Paul has rich political experience both at home and abroad.
Soon after the her Green nomination for Toronto Centre in July 2019, Paul was appointed as International Affairs Critic for the Party’s Shadow Cabinet by Elizabeth May, who was then-Party leader. On 3rd October 2020, Paul was elected the leader of Green Party of Canada following May’s thirteen-year leadership.
Leadership with turmoil and controversies
However, Paul called her time as leader a “tremendous struggle” and she could not carry on because of the attacks. During the Israel- Palestine crisis in May, Paul called for non-violence and a return to dialogue — an announcement that was seen too moderate for some party members. This included Jenica Atwin, one of the three Green Party MPs in Parliament. She crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party in June because, according to her statement, she “stands with Palestine and condemns the unthinkable air strikes in Gaza.” (@JenicaAtwin on Twitter)
At the time of Atwin’s switch, one of Paul’s senior advisor, Noah Zatzman, accused unspecified Green MPs of discrimination and antisemitism. “We will work to defeat you,” Zatzman posted. The post has since been deleted. Zatzman’s reaction sparked a campaign calling to not renew Zatzman’s contract while Paul did not firmly denounce Zatzman’s expression. “There are differences of opinion that come up naturally within parties. And certainly, Israel and Palestine is one that has demonstrated the differences of opinion,” Paul said. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics)
The infighting did not stop even after the removal of Zatzman. Paul accused party members as well as the federal government for sexism and racism. She characterized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as not being a feminist for what she alleges is an undermining of her leadership. Paul asserted that the Liberal Party has failed to support its claim to support diversity in politics, according to the Tyee news.
Although Paul wanted to focus on the election campaign in Toronto, some of her candidates decided not to join the federal ridings. The Green Party would need almost 100 more candidates of a full slate for the election on September 20th. Former leader Elizabeth May worried as the party has never been unprepared for an election.
The failure is not surprised
In an interview with CTV News, Victoria Galea, Paul’s executive assistant, said that the Green Party was undermined from within. “The party absolutely undermined its campaign … both the local Toronto Centre campaign and the national campaign. It’s very hard to have a campaign when all of your staff has been laid off for weeks approaching the election. You don’t have a national campaign manager and the Party provided you with zero funding in order to have a campaign. So undermining is almost understatement.” Galea said in the video.
Associate professor at Dalhousie University Lori Trunbull points out that it was hard to be May’s successor since her long-lasting leadership among people. “It’s really difficult to try and manage a transition when you don’t have the machinery, the institutional memory, the money and all the rest of it.” She also suggests the Greens to pick a leader candidate who has parliament experience. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics)
While other federal parties thanked Paul for her perseverance and leadership on social media after Paul’s resignation, the Greens must move forward in the search of a new adequate leader for their futures.
Annamie Paul’s Twitter