Annamie Paul faces July 20 non-confidence vote as Green Party lays off staff
Paul is under fire for her defence of former adviser
The Green Party will pursue a vote of non-confidence against its leader, Annamie Paul.
CBC News has obtained a party statement that says the party's governing body will hold a meeting on July 20 to vote on a motion of non-confidence. Interim party president Liana Canton Cusmano read the letter out today to a members' town hall meeting.
The letter says the party's council is moving to sanction Paul for "failing to openly condemn the actions of Noah Zatzman," Paul's former political adviser, who called out party members online who criticized Paul's position on the Middle East.
The move to oust Paul follows a similar attempt more than two weeks ago. On June 15, members of the federal party council instead issued an ultimatum to Paul.
The letter Cusmano read to today's meeting says Paul failed to comply with the terms of that ultimatum and must now face the consequences.
"This vote of non-confidence is important and the most consequential thing that has ever been undertaken at the Green Party of Canada," the letter states. "We do not take this matter or the decision to hold this vote lightly."
WATCH: Annamie Paul responds to a possible non-confidence vote on her leadership:
During a Wednesday evening interview on CBC's Power & Politics, Paul said the campaign to remove her as leader is being driven by a small faction within her party. She said she is "quite confident" that she maintains the support of most of the party's membership.
"This is really just a small group of councillors, including the president, who are heading out the door," Paul said, noting that the terms of several party executives are due to expire in August.
"Sometimes the most negative voices in the room are the loudest and it's easy for them to drown out the rest."
For the vote of non-confidence to succeed, 75 per cent of council members will have to vote in favour on July 20. If that happens, Green Party members have the final say at an August 21 general meeting.
Zatzman issued a statement calling today's action "further evidence of an organization whose leadership fosters a culture of systemic antisemitism and discrimination."
"Annamie was elected by a majority of party members to change this, and I have faith that she will," he said.
Layoffs at party headquarters
The Green Party of Canada also announced significant job cuts today, ahead of a widely anticipated election campaign.
According to sources not authorized to speak publicly, the party told employees today that it would be cutting staff positions. One source said up to 15 people could end up being laid off — nearly half the staff complement at party headquarters.
The source said the party's interim executive director Dana Taylor announced the job cuts during a heated and emotional meeting this morning. It's not immediately clear which positions are affected.
WATCH | Annamie Paul to face a non-confidence motion:
The source said that Paul attempted to speak out against the layoffs during the meeting, but her microphone was muted.
Another source said the party's financial situation has worsened since Paul was elected leader in October.
According to Elections Canada's latest fundraising numbers, the party brought in $677,539 under Paul during the last quarter ending in March of this year. That's up from $576,644 from the same quarter in 2020.
Paul denied the suggestion that the Greens are spiralling ahead of a possible election later this year. She said Canadians have responded positively to the party's message during the pandemic.
"The culture that we offer to politics as well, which is more collaborative and more cooperative ... is also something that we're going to need going forward," Paul said during her Power & Politics interview.
CBC reached out to other Green Party officials for comment.
Timeline of the Green Party's internal conflict
Wednesday's latest news comes after weeks of internal fighting within the Greens, which culminated in an attempt to remove Paul earlier this month. Here are the key events in the party's internal conflict so far:
- 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 Noah 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 comply fully with the ultimatum publicly.