Politics

Green Party council voting on process that could eject Annamie Paul from leadership

The Green Party federal council will vote tonight on whether to kickstart a process that could remove Annamie Paul from the party leadership.

Move follows difficult few weeks for party ripped apart by differences over Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, addresses a news conference after learning that New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin had left the party to join the Liberals. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The Green Party federal council will vote tonight on whether to kickstart a process that could remove Annamie Paul from the party leadership.

According to party members with knowledge of the issue, the party's federal council will hold a vote on whether to trigger a complex 30-day process under the party's constitution.

If the council votes tonight to launch that process, it will meet again on July 15. If 75 per cent of council members agree at that meeting to let a leadership vote go forward, party members could then vote to remove Paul from office through a motion at an annual general meeting.

One source said the Greens are overdue for such a meeting.

This move 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 calling for a ceasefire and condemning both Palestinian rocket attacks and excessive Israeli military force — 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 air strikes in Gaza. End Apartheid."

Green MP Jenica Atwin blasted her own leader's statement on Gaza as "totally inadequate". (Twitter)

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."

Paul's adviser Noah 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 also expressed solidarity with Israel in a May 14 social media post that accused many politicians — including unspecified Green MPs — of discrimination and antisemitism. That inspired a letter-writing campaign calling for his removal.

Zatzman has worked with Paul since last July and remains on board as 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.

The Green Party's executive committee has voted not to renew Zatzman's contract once it expires next month. 

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 B.C. Green MP 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 cooperation 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.

Paul 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. She refused to say if Zatzman is still a member of her team.

CBC News has reached out to Paul's office for comment.

Watch: 'We are disappointed but accept it' — Green Party leader reacts to New Brunswick MP's departure:

'We are disappointed but accept it' — Green Party leader reacts to New Brunswick MP's departure

Politics News

2 months ago
1:20
Annamie Paul reacts to news that MP Jenica Atwin has left the Green caucus to join the Liberal Party. 1:20

 

Corrections

  • This story has been updated from a previous version that incorrectly stated the Green Party’s federal council will be holding a meeting on July 15 to determine the future of Annamie Paul’s leadership of the party. In fact, a vote will be held tonight to determine whether to hold the future meeting to consider a motion of non-confidence.
    Jun 15, 2021 2:46 PM ET

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC News

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