Greens discuss revoking leader Annamie Paul’s membership

Already facing a challenge to her leadership, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul also now faces the prospect of losing her party membership.

Several sources told CBC News that the party’s federal council discussed reviewing Annamie Paul’s membership during a meeting late Tuesday night. The sources said they could not confirm whether a formal review has been initiated, as the Toronto Star first reported.

It’s not clear what revoking Paul’s membership would mean for the status of her leadership. According to the party’s rules, the leader must be a member in good standing.

Reacting to the latest news, a senior Green party source who supports Paul called the move illegitimate and undemocratic. Paul still faces a non-confidence vote on her leadership later this month.

CBC has reached out to the party and Paul herself for comment. Party spokesperson Rosie Emery would only confirm that an emergency meeting took place last night.

The ‘cease-and-desist’ letter

The party’s code of conduct states that “the executive director will automatically initiate a membership review if a member initiates legal proceedings against the Party.”

As first reported by the Journal de Montreal, Paul’s lawyer recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to a federal party council member. The letter accused a council member of defamation but no further action was taken. The nature of the alleged comments that prompted the letter are not clear.

Green Party members who undergo a membership review are allowed 30 days to prepare a defence and have the right to be heard before the party’s federal council. A simple majority of federal councillors (51 per cent) is all that’s required to remove a member, although those ejected have recourse to the party’s appeals committee.

Tuesday night’s emergency meeting immediately followed a presentation to the membership that showed the party is burning through cash and its expenses are exceeding revenues.

An end-run around the membership?

There are also questions about whether the party will fund Paul’s election campaign in the Toronto Centre riding. A motion was tabled at a federal council meeting on June 29 to hold back $250,000 previously earmarked for Paul’s own riding campaign.

A senior source in the Green party said some within the party who are unhappy with Paul’s leadership are attempting to use a back-door tactic to remove the party’s elected leader — something the source said is unconstitutional. The source said it also undermines the legitimacy of the upcoming confidence vote, which was supposed to give party members the final word on Paul’s future.

Paul wasn’t invited to attend Tuesday night’s emergency meeting, although she is a member of the federal council.

Paul is expected to face a non-confidence vote at federal council next Tuesday. The vote was triggered after Paul failed to openly condemn the actions of Noah Zatzman, Paul’s former political adviser. Zatzman called out party members online who criticized Paul’s position on the Middle East.

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin split from the federal Green Party to sit as a Liberal. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada)

In May, New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin called out her party’s stance on the Middle East conflict on Twitter, calling it “a totally inadequate statement.” Atwin then wrote: “Forced evictions must end. I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End Apartheid.”

Soon after, the leader’s then-senior adviser Zatzman took to Facebook to state the Greens “will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!” Calls soon grew for leader Annamie Paul to condemn and remove Zatzman.

In early June, Atwin announced she would be crossing the floor to join the Liberals, stating differences over the party’s stance in the Middle East “certainly played a role.”

Nearly a week later, the party’s top brass held an emergency meeting to discuss removing Paul. After the lengthy session, CBC learned Paul survived the attempt.

Instead, federal party council members opted to issue an ultimatum stating that she must publicly support her remaining Green MPs and “repudiate” Zatzman. The consequence of failing to comply would be another no-confidence vote on July 20.

Paul has yet to fully comply with the ultimatum publicly.