Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is firing back at what she described as a “small group of councillors” who she says were behind a push to dethrone her as the party’s leader on Tuesday night.
These councillors, Paul said, tried to “force a vote of non-confidence” on her leadership with “no substantive consultation with the members they represent.”
“They produced a list of allegations: allegations that were so racist, so sexist that they were immediately disavowed by both of our MPs as offensive and inflammatory and contrary to party ethics, and I thank our MPs for that,” Paul said.
“The plan of this small group of councillors, who are on their way out, did not succeed,” she added.
Paul was referring to the events that took place during a three-hour emergency meeting of the Green Party’s federal council — which is its governing body — on Tuesday night.
During the meeting, the federal council threatened her with a non-confidence vote if she fails to repudiate a former advisor in her office who many party members — including the two remaining Green MPs — hold responsible for the defection of MP Jenica Atwin from the Greens to the Liberals.
In a copy of the allegation of non-confidence obtained by Global News, its authors alleged Paul “has acted with an autocratic attitude of hostility, superiority and rejection.”
It also accused her of “failing to develop a collaborative working relationship, failing to engage in respectful discussions, and failing to use dialogue and compromise.”
“She has attended few council meetings, and when in attendance, has displayed anger in long, repetitive, aggressive monologues and has failed to recognize the value of any ideas except her own, acting in a manner not in compliance with the leader’s role and responsibilities,” read the letter.
Asked about the contents of this letter on Wednesday, Paul said she “was not aware that letter was in the possession of anyone outside of the room.”
Paul added that the two sitting Green MPs, Paul Manly and Elizabeth May, deemed the letter’s allegations “so offensive, and so inflammatory” that they “disavowed it.”
“And I will say that there were, thankfully, many other councillors who agreed,” she said.
In a narrow 5-4 vote at that meeting, council called on 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.”
Zatzman, an advisor to Paul, had threatened to work to defeat Atwin in the next general election after she took to Twitter to lambast Paul’s statement on the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.
The move came less than a week after Atwin crossed the floor, slamming the infighting among the Greens over the Israel-Hamas conflict as a “distraction” on her way out.
Paul won leadership in October of last year with 54 per cent of the vote on the eighth ballot. Paul’s 12,090 votes allowed her to pull ahead of runner-up Dimitri Lascaris in a race that saw 69 per cent of party members vote.
Speaking Wednesday, Paul said she feels she’s being held to a different set of rules than those her predecessor had to deal with.
“Often, when people like me are elected or appointed to positions of senior leadership, the rules of the game seem to change,” Paul said.
“Collaboration and collegiality does not mean bowing down. It doesn’t mean being brought to heel.”
The party’s infighting has been ongoing for months now.
Global News obtained a letter sent to the party’s federal council at the end of November 2020. That letter alleged a “pattern of poor governance” within the Green Party.
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Former interim party leader Jo-Ann Roberts, former national party campaign (2019) director Jonathan Dickie, a past president and a past vice-president were among those who signed that November letter. It’s unclear, however, if these individuals had a hand in the latest push to oust Paul.
“They’re having these internal conflicts and it’s really stopping a lot of their momentum,” Dickie said in an interview with Global News in February.
“I could see the downsides going into the next election where it may be more difficult for Annamie to position the party.”
Amid the internal turmoil, Paul told reporters on Wednesday that she’ll be “taking some time to reflect.”
The comment came as the answer to one of just three questions total that she took from reporters during the press conference. She also criticized one reporter, who was pushing for clarity, about the “tone” he was using.
Before leaving the room, Paul added that she supports the Green Party’s caucus — even if she doesn’t always agree with all their opinions.
“I do not agree with many of the views that have been expressed by our MPs, but they are of course welcome to express them — and everyone knows that is the Green Party ethos,” Paul said.
“I support our MPs, I support our MPs, I support our MPs.”
— With files from Global News’ David Akin