Less than a week after the conclusion of the 2021 Federal Election, Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul announced that she will not be leading her party into the next one. At a press conference Monday morning, Paul told the country her decision, and shortly after another Green leader, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner, released a statement thanking Paul for “daring, bold and resilient leadership” as the Federal Greens now struggle again for direction.
“I want to thank Annamie Paul for her bold and daring leadership. And for her commitment to building a more green, equitable and caring Toronto, Ontario and Canada,” Schreiner said in a statement after Paul announced her resignation. “Annamie is an important voice in Canadian politics. And I was proud to campaign with her.”
During the recently completed Federal Election, and the months leading up to it, Schreiner made a number of campaign stops with Paul including one in Guelph earlier this summer, and an appearance with newly elected Green MP Mike Morrice in Kitchener Centre during the last week of the campaign. Schreiner also made numerous appearances in Paul’s Toronto Centre riding and supporting her attempt to unseat Liberal incumbent Marci Ien.
Schreiner called Paul a “trailblazer”, and said that he knows “many people will be asking some important questions today” about the ongoing role of systemic racism in politics and political parties.
“As leader of the Ontario Greens, I cannot speak for the federal party, but I do recognize that the party I lead has more work to do to combat systemic racism. I am committed to doing the hard work to build a party that is diverse, inclusive and welcoming,” Schreiner said. “We need more Green voices to push for urgent action on the climate crisis playing out before us. Having diverse Green voices is essential to success.”
Paul announced that she was stepping down as Federal Green leader this morning at a press conference in Toronto. She described her time as leader as a “tremendous struggle” and with the council overseeing the Green Party demanding an immediate leadership review, Paul said that she just couldn’t put herself, or her family, through any more tumult.
“I just don’t have the heart for it,” Paul said. “When I was elected and put in this role, I was breaking a glass ceiling. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head and leave a lot of shards of glass that I was going to have to crawl over throughout my time as a leader.”
In 2020, Paul won the Green leadership on the eighth round of voting with 50.63 per cent of the vote, beating her nearest competitor, the more left-wing Dimitri Lascaris, by over eight points.
The early promise of Paul’s leadership, demonstrated in a strong second place finish in the October 2020 by-election to replace Bill Morneau in Toronto Centre, gave way to a season of discontent in the spring of 2021 when Paul’s senior advisor Noah Zatzman called comments by two Green MPs about violence in the West Band earlier this year as “antisemitic.”
The friction caused Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin to cross the floor to the Liberals, and cause the party’s federal council to start a process that could have resulted in Paul being removed as leader. Paul called out the council’s decision for being both racist and sexist, and while the process was eventually halted, party executives blocked funding to Paul’s campaign office in July, which is widely seen as an act that sabotaged Paul’s efforts to win the seat in Toronto Centre.
Paul finished in fourth place in Toronto Centre last week with barely 4,000 votes, while Ien won again with over 23,000.
“This was not easy. It has been extremely painful. It has been the worst period in my life, in many respects,” Paul said.
There’s been no public comment from the Green Party of Canada about Paul’s resignation, and their social media pages seem to have not been updated since the day after Election Day last week.