Annie Paul’s tenure as leader of the Green Party of Canada was short. Paul is resigning as leader of the Green Party less than a year after he took office.
When Elizabeth May stepped down as leader in November 2019 after handling the party for 13 years, she left big shoes to fill. In the 2019 federal election, the party doubled its share of the popular vote compared to the previous election and received over one million votes for the first time. Three Green Party members were elected as MPs, that too first.
Yet beneath the surface were ideological, organizational and management divisions and conflicts. Different visions for the party appeared in the forums of those vying to be the new leader. Indeed, the 2020 Green Party leadership race exposed these deep ideological divides in how the Green Party should present itself in the future.
Many candidates ran on an eco-socialist platform, arguing that capitalism is the root of climate change and inequality, while others, including Paul, were seen as centrist “representing the liberal founding of the Green Party and the continuation of May’s capitalist environmentalism.” Used to do.”
After eight rounds of voting, Paul won the leadership in October 2020.
failed to win a seat
Paul had a bad start. She lost a by-election to the Toronto Center ride later that month, which meant she was no longer able to lead the Greens in the House of Commons. By April 2021, internal squabbles within the party had begun to leak into the media, including allegations that the party was ineffective in tackling issues involving sexism, racism and diversity.
In May and June 2021, the Green Party revisited an issue that had previously troubled them. Paul’s statement on escalation of fighting in Gaza caused the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to blow up the party, prompting MP Jenika Atwin to cross the floor for the Liberals. Paul’s response to encouragement to reduce violence and support peace in the region was seen by Atwin and others as “totally inadequate”.
Paul’s senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, also publicly criticized Green lawmakers and other Green Party members for their pro-Palestinian stances. Many members were outraged that Paul had not publicly disciplined Zatzman in any way.
In June and July 2021, concerns grew about Paul’s leadership. After Paul’s leadership was called to vote on a measure of no-confidence, a federal council (the governing body for the Green Party) called for Paul’s campaign at the Toronto Center to withdraw campaign funds and revoke Paul’s membership. had taken a step. green Party.
Paul, the first black and Jewish woman to lead a major federal party, has said efforts to oust her were motivated by racism and sexism.
At a June meeting, Paul said the allegations against him were “so racist, so sexist, that they were immediately … rejected by our lawmakers as offensive and provocative.” And she said it was not an isolated incident, alleging that hatred grew when she became the leader. He called for efforts to stop the targeted attacks.
The results on election night were quite the opposite from 2019. It became clear that Paul would either resign or endure the party’s no-confidence vote and leadership review. A week later, he stepped down.
Lessons for the Greens
While the Green Party should have learned many lessons over the past year, there are a few that stand out in particular.
While internal party turmoil occurs in all political parties, issues and problems such as loyalty to the party and its leader should be paramount rather than leaking stories to the media by disgruntled members.
Instead of presenting itself as a professional party capable of leading the country, Canadians were treated with what seemed like a reality show that seriously destroyed the trust and confidence of voters. It is no surprise that Paul described his leadership as the worst period in his life.
The Greens must also define their governance structure and cultural spirit, including the removal of systemic barriers within the party in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion related to culture, race, language, gender, physical ability and religion.
Some members, such as former leadership candidate Glenn Murray, have called on the party to find out what it really is. Anna Keenan, the Green candidate in Prince Edward Island, says the party should focus on a culture of team unity that is “struggling together for the same goal rather than fighting against each other.”
The party would also have to compromise on the role of leader in the Green Party of Canada. In response to Paul’s resignation, May said in an interview that the Greens leader is not the boss: “You are the main spokesman,” she said. “You’re not the boss.” The question is whether future Green Party leadership candidates fully understand and accept this challenge.
The role of interim leader or caretaker is still being determined. May and Jo-Ann Roberts, a former journalist who turned out to be a Green candidate, have both piloted the ship before and are being considered.
Other political parties have weathered internal storms. There are many Greens in Canada who are hoping the Green Party can do the same.