Green party takes battle with leader Annamie Paul to court
Party wants to overturn arbitration that cancelled confidence vote, membership review
The Green Party and its associated fund are taking their battle with party leader Annamie Paul to court — ending a tentative truce between Paul and party executives just as a federal election call is expected within weeks.
Court documents show that Paul took action to stop the party from holding a confidence vote on her leadership and reviewing her party membership.
The court documents say the dispute ended up in the hands of an arbitrator, who decided to quash the non-confidence vote scheduled for July 20 and call off the membership review.
In their court filing, the Green Party of Canada Fund and the Green Party of Canada are asking the Ontario Superior Court to quash the arbitration orders that set aside both the non-confidence vote and the leadership review until after the party elects a new federal council on Aug. 19. The filing is also asking for costs.
The party and the fund — which controls the party's purse strings — argue that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in setting aside the confidence vote and the leadership review because Paul's contract was with the fund, not the party's federal council.
They also argue that the arbitration process limited the "activities, decisions and communications of members" in relation to the dispute.
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: "We will work to bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!"
Party wants arbitration decisions set aside
The party's federal council told Paul she had to comply with its directive to publicly repudiate Zatzman's comments in order to avoid a confidence vote.
Despite Paul's refusal to admonish Zatzman, the party issued a statement Monday confirming the cancellation of the vote.
On Monday, Paul told reporters in Toronto that she will face a scheduled leadership review after the next federal election, but for now — with an election call expected within weeks — she needs the party's support.
"I want to lead us into the next election," Paul said. "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."
That move appears to have come sooner than Paul may have expected. The court documents argue that "it was the action of Ms. Paul" that prompted the party to review her membership.