Green Party leader Annamie Paul says there’s “no infighting” happening within her party, despite the latest revelation that the legal system is now involved in the ongoing dispute.
“I am not feuding with anyone. I am not seeking to. There is no infighting going on,” Paul said, speaking to reporters on Thursday.
“This is really a one-sided attack.”
Paul said that recent attempts to oust her as leader have come from a small group within the Green Party‘s governing body, the federal council, and that those spearheading the conflict are on their way out the door.
“This was not an action sanctioned by our federal council. It is not an action that came before our federal council. And so I am asking people to just have patience as we transition,” Paul said.
“We are in a big transition. Most of our councillors will have their terms expiring next month. I’m very excited to work with our next group of councillors, and I am not going to be distracted any further from really the work that has to be done.”
Her comments come on the heels of the news that the party is involved in legal proceedings related to the party’s internal turmoil.
An email was sent to all Green Party members confirming the legal proceedings on Wednesday.
“We are writing to inform you that the Green Party of Canada and the Green Party of Canada Fund have filed an application in the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario. The application relates to certain internal proceedings of the Federal Council and the Executive Director related to the Leader of the Party,” read the email, which was obtained by Global News.
“We understand that the Leader is of the view that the Party is bound by certain rules of confidentiality, which we dispute. As such, we will not be providing you with further details regarding the nature of the proceedings at this time.”
While the email provided none of the specifics of the case, it gave the entirety of the party’s membership the case number — and informed them the documents relating to the case are publicly available.
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Speaking Thursday, Paul would not say whether she intends to file a response in court to the application.
“I am not seeking to litigate or to discuss anything of this nature in these forums. I don’t think that is appropriate,” she said.
“This news is very new and I will be considering it. I will be thinking about what is best.”
The notice of application, which was obtained by Global News, was filed Wednesday in the Ontario Superior Court.
In the documents, the party and the Green Party of Canada Fund — a separate entity that controls the party’s funds — claim an arbitrator exceeded his authority when he required party executives to quash the non-confidence vote that was set to take place against Paul on Tuesday. They also claimed the arbitrator overstepped by quashing the review of Paul’s party membership.
“As an unincorporated association, the party has no legal capacity to enter into a financial employment contract,” the application reads. “Only the Fund may incur expenses and therefore enter into an employment contract.”
The arbitrator “erred in law” because he had no authority to impose orders on an entity that is unconnected with Paul’s contract, the filings argue.
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 that she repudiate him — and if she rejected the request, they said they’d conduct a non-confidence vote.
However, Paul dodged that bullet when party members opted to call off the potential vote.
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.”
— with files from Global News’ Eric Stober and The Canadian Press