Green Party responsible for election debacle
Hopefully some thoughtful person will undertake an autopsy on what exactly happened with the Green Party and Annamie Paul, who announced her resignation as party leader today. When she was elected leader a year ago everybody seemed happy with the fact that they had chosen a black, Jewish woman as leader. A Princeton grad, fluently multi-lingual, she got her start in politics working as an intern for the late Hamilton MPP Dominic Agostino and working on the leadership campaign of Liberal Gerard Kennedy. She spent time in Barcelona in an NGO think tank and developed programs aimed at getting unrepresented groups into politics–all in all, an impressive resume.
Maybe the first signs of discord could be traced to her election as party leader. It took eight ballots, which indicates there were a large number of Greens who wanted somebody else as leader. What appears to have triggered, or emboldened the anti-Paul faction, were comments by her top aide, Noah Zatzman, taking sharp issue with comments by two Green MPs criticizing the eviction of Palestinians on the West Bank by Israel calling their statements “appalling” and antisemitic, and saying “we will work to defeat you.” Party members wanted Paul to denounce Zatzman. She didn’t do that but issued a statement saying she didn’t believe the MPs statements were anti-Semitic. The next thing you know the party brass were threatening a leadership review amid accusations that the party is riddled with racist. anti-gay types. The fate of Paul was sealed when the party cut off her campaign funding for both her personal election bid, and for the party as well. Strapped for funds she was forced to mainly campaign in her Toronto Centre riding.
In making her announcement today, Paul said, “I asked whether I was willing to continue to put up with the attacks I would have to put up with…I just don’t have the heart for it…It is quite clear I am not going to have the opportunity to lead,” she said “I will not spend any more time on political games.”
Whether there was any real justification for her falling-out with party brass or not, the optics of the shabby, some would say, cruel abandonment of a woman of colour has deeply hurt the party which lost half its support in the election. The race card gets overplayed in politics these days, but this looks really bad for a party that most folks, whether they supported the Greens or not, thought of them as “woke.” Let’s not forget that there was a period when there were knives out for Elizabeth May as well.
Annamie Paul is gone, and now the party brass will have to look inward to figure out a path forward. There is no doubt though, that what happened on September 20th was their fault—not Annamie Paul’s. The Green’s, in a matter of a few months, have wiped out the credibility they had slowly and steadily built over the years since its founding in 1983.