While it’s going to be an interesting election for the next five weeks, Canada’s Green Party faces several challenges to come out ahead. But their leader Annamie Paul says Canadians are ready to bring in change for the country.
“They underestimate the desire of people for change that this pandemic has provoked,” said Paul, while gearing up her campaign at the Wellesley Community Centre.
“We are ready to strike out in a new direction,” she said among a flurry of cheers.
But there’s one hurdle she must overcome — or the newly minted party leader’s pomp might fizzle out.
She needs a seat in parliament, a fact that puts her in a tough spot according to Tim Abray, a professor in political science at Queen’s University.
“It’s an enormous uphill battle,” he says. “I don’t envy her position. It was already going to be tough because of the riding she chose to run in.”
Abray, who is also PhD candidate studying voter behaviour, says with the ongoing fighting in her own party — convincing Canadians to vote differently isn’t going to be easy.
“The closest analogy to this is to be starting a race without a driver,” he says. “There is a lot that she really has to overcome in a short period of time.”
She needs to outpace newly-elected Liberal MP Marci Ien — formerly a CTV news anchor and well-known in the Toronto Centre riding.
Ien defeated her in the Toronto Centre byelection last year. She was also beat out in 2019 — coming in fourth.
Paul says she’s confident Canadians want change.
“We’ve heard from many outgoing MPs from this session that it is a culture that has been toxic. It is a culture that has become unwelcoming and it is a culture that concentrates on putting too much power into the hands of too few,” she says.
“We see ourselves as being part of the antidote to that.”
Over the past 10 months, the Green Party has been in turmoil.
There are ongoing legal battles challenging Paul’s leadership. Paul’s interim chief of staff Phil Spidle was laid off by party brass last week. And sources say the Green Party staff has been halved. They even lost an MP in Fredericton to the Liberals, Jenica Atwin.
However, they are all facts that Paul says are bumps on the road to victory.
“Change is not always easy. But it’s always worth it. And so we’re going through that. But we’re a party that I believe unifies at the times that matter the most.”
Paul was flanked by her candidates running alongside her in several Ontario ridings — including Adrian Currie. He’s vying for a seat in Toronto’s Davenport riding. He says although the fighting is distracting for their party, that’s all it is and Canadian’s need to see through it.
“It’s been a distraction for the simple fact that the Green Party has the best plan to tackle climate change,” says Currie. “The Liberals are worried that Annamie Paul will win Toronto Centre — and if they do, there will be a domino effect across Toronto.”
All this while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau tries to secure a majority — during a pandemic.
Political strategist with Enterprise Canada Jason Lietaer says it’s a challenging time for everyone, considering there are only 36 days until people will hit the polls.
“Day one, it is a nerve-racking day. I think you’re all a little bit scared of where it’s going to go,” he says. “I think all of them met their objectives in varying degrees. All of them have questions going forward.
As it stands, Paul will only campaign in her riding of Toronto Centre to try and solidify a seat. But with several roadblocks along the way.