Green Party's Annamie Paul survives emergency meeting over leadership
Party instead asks Paul to publicly repudiate a former senior adviser
The leadership of the Green Party's Annamie Paul is safe — for now — after party brass decided late Tuesday not to kick-start a process that could have ultimately ousted her as leader of the party.
The party's federal council — which is the governing body of the party — held an emergency meeting Tuesday night that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours. Officials were expected to hold a vote on whether to trigger a complex process under the party's constitution that could have declared no-confidence in Paul's leadership.
That vote did not end up taking place, multiple sources with knowledge of the meeting told CBC News.
Instead, sources say, the federal council adopted a separate motion asking Paul to publicly repudiate one of Paul's former senior advisers, Noah Zatzman, who accused many politicians — including unspecified Green MPs — of discrimination and antisemitism in a social media post last month.
The motion also calls for Paul to "explicitly support" the Green Party caucus. If not, the motion says, Paul would face a vote of non-confidence on July 20.
Tuesday night's decision follows a difficult few weeks for the party, which has been ripped apart by internal disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As violence in the region escalated, Paul issued a statement saying the "dangerous situation that is unfolding is extremely disturbing" and that the Green Party called for "an immediate de-escalation in the violence and a return to dialogue as a means to seeking a peaceful solution" — an apparent attempt to put forward a moderate position close to that of the Trudeau government.
Green MP Jenica Atwin — who has since left the Green caucus to join the Liberals — ripped into Paul's statement on Twitter. "It is a totally inadequate statement," Atwin wrote. "Forced evictions must end. I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End Apartheid."
Green MP Paul Manly also took issue with Paul's statement, saying the planned removal of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah "is ethnic cleansing."
Zatzman responded with a Facebook post stating that Greens "will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!"
Zatzman is no longer an adviser to the leader. His six-month contract, slated to expire on July 4 and obtained by The Canadian Press, stipulates that the party will pay Zatzman a fee for time worked beyond 100 hours per month.
CBC News reached out to the Green Party, Paul and Zatzman for comment after Tuesday's meeting.
Only Zatzman responded. The former staffer didn't address the events of the last 24 hours. Instead, he issued a statement Wednesday morning that applauded Atwin, who says she now regrets her initial tweet that sparked this latest crisis in the Greens.
"MP Jenica Atwin is to be commended for acknowledging that anti-Semitism has no place in Canadian society and for apologizing for her highly problematic May 11 remarks," Zatzman stated.
Too many 'distractions' in Green Party: Atwin
Separately, two party executives recently announced they would step down early. One of them was John Kidder, a vice-president on the party's governing body and husband to MP and former leader Elizabeth May.
When Atwin announced last week that she was crossing the floor to join the Liberals, she said there were too many "distractions" in the Green Party and she wanted to work in a more "supportive and collaborative" environment.
In a media statement, May and Manly said they were "heartbroken" by Atwin's decision — and that Zatzman was to blame.
"Unfortunately, the attack against Ms. Atwin by the Green Party leader's chief spokesperson on May 14th created the conditions that led to this crisis," the two said. The MPs added that, while they were frustrated, they have "no intention of leaving the Green Party of Canada."
Speaking to reporters after Atwin's announcement, Paul said she was blindsided by her departure and only learned about it from media reports.
Paul said that while the party supports cross-party co-operation and rejects excessive partisanship, she said there are "significant differences" between the Green and Liberal parties and called Atwin's floor-crossing a "disappointment."
Paul said a byelection should be called in Fredericton because voters there chose to elect a Green MP in the 2019 campaign.
She said she doesn't believe the internal squabbling over Israel was what pushed Atwin to switch sides. She said she understands Atwin was in talks with the Liberals for "numerous weeks" before the internal debate over Middle East issues flared up.
- This story has been updated from an earlier version that said incorrectly that Green Party Leader Annamie Paul's statement called for a ceasefire and condemned both Palestinian "rocket attacks" and "excessive Israeli military force." In fact, her statement said the "dangerous situation that is unfolding is extremely disturbing" and that the Green Party called for "an immediate de-escalation in the violence and a return to dialogue as a means to seeking a peaceful solution."Jul 19, 2021 3:59 PM ET