Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said today that internal challenges to her leadership should wait until after a widely anticipated fall election.
“We see that we have candidates that are ready to get going and none of us need this distraction, so I’m certainly hoping that this is the end of this,” Paul told a press conference today.
Until recently, the Green Party’s governing body was set to hold a confidence vote on Paul’s leadership and to review her membership in the party. CBC News learned over the weekend that the confidence vote has been cancelled and the review of Paul’s party membership has been abandoned.
Paul said that she will face a scheduled leadership review after the next federal election. In the meantime, she said, she needs the party’s support.
“I hope people will continue to support me. I hope I will be given the opportunity to serve and that’s really what this is about,” Paul said.
“I want to lead us into the next election. I want to offer my service to our members and to Canada and I’m hoping that those that feel otherwise will wait until a more appropriate time to make a move.”
The party issued a statement Monday that confirmed the cancellation of the vote. It said that “no further motions of non-confidence against the leader will be proposed to the current federal council or prior to the next general meeting of the Green Party.”
The current federal council will be replaced in mid-August, which means that Paul could still face a threat to her leadership before a fall election. Paul said she is hoping the party will continue to support her in the meantime so it can get back to the business of trying to get Green candidates elected.
Blaming funding constraints, the party executive has fired the staff in Paul’s office and has not released any funding to support her riding campaign. Paul said Monday that neither of those decisions has been reversed.
“It was very hard and remained very hard to be stripped of many of the tools that I need to be an effective leader,” she said.
Mideast tensions in party
The conflict between Paul and her party hit a crisis point in May when, during an escalation of violence in the Middle East, Paul issued a statement calling for a de-escalation and a return to dialogue.
Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, who left the Green Party for the Liberals in June, called the statement “totally inadequate.” Her departure left the Greens with just two MPs.
Paul’s political adviser at the time, Noah Zatzman, said in a May 14 Facebook post that he had experienced antisemitism and discrimination within the party and criticized politicians he said were displaying antisemitism, including Green MPs.
He wrote that the Greens would work to “bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!”
The party’s federal council told Paul she had to comply with its directive to publicly repudiate Zatzman’s comments to avoid a confidence vote. She has refused to do so and the party now seems to have settled into a short-term peace.
“This has been incredibly painful for me and for my family and I want to be upfront about that,” Paul told reporters today at a press conference in the riding of Toronto Centre, where she intends to run in the next election.
“It is extremely hard to have your integrity questioned when you value it so much. It’s extremely hard to have your commitment to human rights and social justice questioned.”
Paul said this conflict with her party has taken a toll on her and her family and that she considered resigning many times over recent weeks.
“The reason that I haven’t is because it should not be this difficult,” she said. “It should not be this difficult for people of good will, people with experience, to offer it in service to their country.
“There are too many good people that have found it impossible and I simply didn’t want to be one of them.”