Green Party leader Paul mulls next steps after non-confidence threat

Click to play video: 'Annamie Paul says Atwin used Israel-Gaza conflict as ‘manufactured’ reason for leaving Green Party' Annamie Paul says Atwin used Israel-Gaza conflict as ‘manufactured’ reason for leaving Green Party
Green Party leader Annamie Paul reacted on Tuesday to reports that former party member Jenica Atwin had walked back comments on the Israel-Gaza conflict, asserting that the two “never had a conversation about Israel and Palestine one-on-one, ever.” Paul also said Atwin’s stance on the conflict was a “manufactured” reason for leaving the party – Jun 15, 2021

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is considering her next steps, Global News has learned, after her party’s governing federal council threatened her Tuesday night with a non-confidence vote if she fails to repudiate a former advisor in her office who many party members — and the two remaining Green MPs — hold responsible for the defection of MP Jenica Atwin from the Greens to the Liberals.

But immediately after Tuesday’s marathon emergency meeting of the Green Party’s federal council, two members of that council who no longer support Paul resigned from council, resignations that could have implications for any future non-confidence vote that might be considered by the council.

Those resignations could strengthen Paul’s hand and lead her to repudiate the threat passed by her federal council.

In a narrow 5-4 vote, with one abstention, that came at the end of a three-hour meeting that concluded at about 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the federal council directed Paul and Nanaimo MP Paul Manly “to organize a joint statement and a press conference where Annamie Paul would repudiate Noah Zatzman’s attacks and explicitly support the GPC caucus.”

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Zatzman is the advisor in Paul’s office who, through a social media post, threatened to work to defeat Atwin in the next general election after Atwin, also on social media, sharply criticized one of Paul’s statements on the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.

Paul’s position on that conflict was similar to the position of the governing Liberals in calling out both sides for excessive violence and appealing for a ceasefire.

Atwin, in her post, said Paul’s position was “totally inadequate” and suggested that Israel was an apartheid state, a characterization that drew immediate criticism from many parliamentarians and Jewish groups. Paul, who is Jewish herself, did not respond publicly to Atwin’s criticism though, sources say Atwin privately apologized to Paul for that social media Post.

Then, after joining the Liberal caucus, Atwin issued a statement apologizing for her remarks.

Read more: Some Greens worry internal conflict will hobble new leader Annamie Paul in the next election

Nonetheless, several Green Party sources have told Global News that, regardless of the issue at hand, Paul should have publicly censured Zatzman for threatening to defeat a sitting MP, something which she has not done.

Now, if she does not do that, the federal council motion passed last night says Paul will face a non-confidence vote at a July 20 meeting of the federal council. Not only that, but the council authorized a virtual general meeting of the membership which will take place August 21. No agenda or topic for that meeting was announced.

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Paul, elected leader last summer to succeed Elizabeth May, is a member of the federal council, though she was not permitted to cast a vote Tuesday night.

Under the party’s constitution, a non-confidence vote in the leader must pass by a three-quarters majority at federal council. If such a motion clears that hurdle, it would have to be ratified by the party’s membership at a general meeting. Only then would a leader be relieved of the job.

Zatzman, for his part, will end his employment with Paul’s office at month’s end when his contract expires. The party’s federal council had on June 4, before Atwin defected, issued a written notice to Zatzman telling him to essentially “down tools” and not do any work for Paul or the party until his contract expired.

Read more: Green Party MP Jenica Atwin crossing the floor to join the Liberal Party

In the meantime, the 18-position council is itself is about to be radically re-shuffled. The party is in the midst of elections for 13 federal council positions as the terms for those council positions expire. There were three vacancies on the council before Tuesday’s meeting started but now there are five.

Lia Renaud quit her position as Nova Scotia’s representative on the council after Tuesday’s meeting and said in an e-mailed statement that the only other Atlantic Canadian representative on the Green’s federal council, Newfoundland and Labrador represenative Lucas Knill, did the same.  “We could not in good conscience continue our support [of Paul],” Renaud said. “However, I will continue to support Elizabeth May, Paul Manly, and Green champions in Atlantic Canada in the upcoming election.”
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Knill did not return phone or e-mail messages.

In the meantime, Paul’s supporters says that the process to unseat Paul is being taken now by what is essentially a lame-duck council with five of 18 seats vacant run by interim president in its final weeks before the council elections that will take place Aug. 19.  Under the current federal council configuration then, only a total of 12 members could vote on a non-confidence motion and, to reach the three-quarters majority, nine would have to vote to oust Paul.  But if the four who voted against Tuesday night’s motion stick with Paul, that would be enough to easily defeat a non-confidence vote at the July 20 vote.

Party spokesperson Rosie Emery said the party expects to release a statement about the matter sometime on Wednesday.

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