Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says she’s hopeful the massive societal impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will spur a lasting change in Canadian politics — including getting more people to vote Green.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Paul looked ahead to the coming year and her plans for a potential federal election after an unsuccessful byelection bid late last year to win a Toronto Liberal stronghold.
“This is a year, 2020, that has changed so much. It has transformed our society, it has really caused us to wake up every day saying, what is a life worth?” she said. “And I think that is changing every part of our society — including politics — and in some good ways, I hope.”
“The transformation that we just talked about, it’s certainly going to touch politics,” she continued, adding that the economic struggles of the pandemic have more Canadians than ever looking for parties to support things like basic incomes and pharmacare, in addition to strong climate policies.
“I absolutely believe that it is going to change the way that people vote.”
Paul smashed several glass ceilings at once last year when she won the Green Party leadership.
In doing so, she became the first Black Jewish woman elected to lead a federal Canadian political party.
Paul won the party leadership on Oct. 3 and just weeks later, lost the Toronto Centre byelection to replace former Liberal finance minister Bill Morneau after he quit federal politics. The seat has been held by the Liberals since 1993 and was won by former journalist Marci Ien, who ran there for the party.
However, Paul finished a close second to Ien in that race and the result marked a sharp jump in support for Paul compared to when she ran in the riding in the 2019 federal campaign, finishing fourth with just seven per cent of the vote.
Paul suggested she hasn’t yet decided whether to run in another byelection if one comes up this year to try to secure a seat in the House of Commons as soon as possible, or wait for a general election.
“I’d love to know when the next general election is going to be — it might be the spring, it might be a little bit later — and part of the answer to your question will really depend on that,” she said, adding that other party leaders without seats have managed to do effective work.
“Certainly, if we have a general election soon I will be running, and running to win. We came pretty close in Toronto Centre and next time, next time it’s going to take.”