Green Party Leader Annamie Paul has lost her bid in the 2021 federal election to become the next member of Parliament for the riding of Toronto Centre.
Global News has projected that incumbent Liberal Marci Ien has won the riding. With 136 of 137 polls reporting, Ien has 50.2 per cent of the votes. Paul, meanwhile, has just 8.5 per cent of the votes and finished in a very distant fourth place.
“Clearly, I am disappointed,” Paul said early Tuesday morning following her election loss. “It is hard to lose. No one likes to lose.”
Paul’s defeat is a significant blow for the Green Party, which hasn’t had its leader in the House of Commons since long-time party leader Elizabeth May stepped away from the role several months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
May, who won her seat in the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, said she’s “never seen the party so unprepared for an election,” referring to the fact that the Green Party didn’t run candidates in dozens of ridings across the country.
The Green Party has also struggled with internal turmoil and strife over the past year, with senior party executives challenging Paul’s leadership and orchestrating attempts to remove her from her position.
Paul responded to these efforts by saying the tactics and words used by some party members were “sexist” and “racist.”
Paul is the only woman currently leading a major national political party in Canada. She’s also the only Black or Jewish person to lead a federal political party. Other than May, it had been 18 years since another woman party leader participated in a televised leaders’ debate.
“I’ve had to crawl over a lot of broken glass to get here,” Paul said during the English-language leaders debate on Sept. 9.
In the final days of the election campaign, Paul said that she worked tirelessly to become the leader of the Green Party and that she has pushed forward progressive policies on climate change, gender equality, financial reform and housing.
The Green Party’s election climate platform had the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of all the major political parties, aiming to reduce emissions by 60 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. This is the level many environmentalists say Canada must reach in order to do its “fair share” of limiting global temperature gains to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The riding of Toronto Centre was first won by Ien in October 2020 during a byelection, which followed the resignation of former Liberal finance minister Bill Morneau in August 2020.
In May 2021, federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion issued a decision that said Morneau breached the Conflict of Interest Act when he failed to recuse himself from deliberations surrounding the government’s planned COVID-19 student volunteer grant program.
Dion found that Morneau violated conflict of interest provisions on three specific aspects and that those findings were linked to the fact that Morneau’s relationship with WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielberger meets the definition of a “friend” under the rules.
WE Charity received a federal contract to administer the student grant program worth approximately $900 million.