Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says questions about her leadership are in the rearview mirror — for now.
Her sentiments come after party tensions have cooled in recent days. On Sunday, party executives called off a non-confidence vote set to take place this week. Had that vote taken place, it could have kick-started the process of booting Paul from her position as the party’s leader.
A party membership review, which was launched last week and would have seen Paul’s membership suspended, has also halted.
“It’s certainly great that that has been put behind us for now,” Paul said, speaking with host Greg Brady in an interview for 640 Toronto Wednesday morning.
“What we didn’t have, and what we have now, is just more certainty or clarity for our candidates, for our volunteers … about my leadership so that they can plan.”
However, she acknowledged that party members will have a chance to consider her leadership after a federal election takes place — should they still wish to do so.
“There are other opportunities for our members to weigh in,” she said.
“There’s an automatic leadership review … after a federal election. So members always have the last say.”
In the meantime, however, Paul said she remains laser-focused on getting more Green Party candidates elected in the next federal election.
“I’m not infighting. I’m not feuding. I never have been. I’m focusing on the things that matter,” she said.
“Where I’m at, absolutely, 100 per cent, is focusing on getting more Greens elected in the next election.”
At the same time, Paul said she doesn’t believe Canadians should be heading to the polls, should an election be called, because there’s “a lot of work that still needs to be done.”
“There’s still two years in the mandate of this minority government. But if we are then having more Greens elected means that there are more voices that are out there talking about the climate, proposing policy solutions for green recovery,” Paul said.
A federal election has yet to be called. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also rejected the rumours that he’s on the cusp of dropping the writ, despite rampant speculation from politicians and pundits alike.
Should Canada be plunged into a federal election, the Green Party will be forced to reckon with whatever impact recent months of party infighting have had on their support at the polls.
Paul won the 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.
But less than two months after taking over at the party’s helm, Paul started experiencing internal bumps in the road. At the end of November 2020, the party’s federal council was sent a letter that alleged a “pattern of poor governance” within the Green Party.
The internal turmoil burst out from behind closed doors when former Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party on June 10, slamming the infighting among the Greens over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “distraction” on her way out.
Paul, however, said Atwin’s departure from the party was the result of conversations that predated this year’s flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas.
Some members of the Green Party’s governing body, the federal council, held a former advisor of Paul’s responsible for Atwin’s defection from the Greens to the Liberals. They demanded she repudiate him — and if she rejected the request, they said they’d conduct a non-confidence vote.
However, Paul has now dodged that bullet, as party members decided on the weekend to turn off the heat and allow the boiling tensions to cool off.
Elizabeth May, who is currently one of the Greens’ only two MPs, also came to Paul’s defence in a Tuesday statement.
“I stepped down as leader of the Green Party less than two years ago, despite our best ever results in electing three MPs, knowing it was time for new leadership,” she said in a statement. “That new leader is Annamie Paul.”
Still, May admitted that Atwin’s defection remains “deeply troubling.”
“That loss is painful, but the misplaced anger, blame and name-calling that have followed it are doing even more damage than the event itself,” she said.
May has avoided the spotlight since stepping down as the party’s leader after 13 years at the helm and said she has played no role in the federal council, which has been central in the movement against Paul.
She emphasized that “only members” have the authority to call Paul’s leadership into question.
“We need to pull together for what appears to be an imminent election campaign,” she said.
–With files from Global News’ Eric Stober and The Canadian Press