Politics

Green leader says party turmoil ‘time-limited,’ asks members to ‘look to the future’

OTTAWA —
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says the internal disputes clouding the party are “time-limited” and is pleading with members and supporters to keep their eyes on the future.

During the official launch of her campaign office in Toronto on Thursday, Paul said the attempt to overturn an arbitrator’s decision to shut down a non-confidence vote on her leadership isn’t reflective of the sentiment of the party’s entire federal council, or governing body.

“These are the actions of a small group of outgoing councillors, this was not actually sanctioned by our federal council, it is not an action that came before our federal council and so I am asking people to just have patience,” she told reporters.

“Look to the future, this is something that is extremely time-limited and we have a very bright future beginning next month. We have a new set of councillors, every day we are approving more candidates for the next election.”

In documents submitted Wednesday to the Ontario Superior Court, the party claims that Paul submitted a Notice of Request to Arbitrate on July 7, which included “an order to quash a non-confidence vote on her leadership,” scheduled to take place on July 20.

The arbitrator, Earl Cherniak, ordered on July 15 that a non-confidence motion would not proceed before the party’s general meeting in August and that the party must post this update to its website.

The party is now arguing that while Paul’s employment agreement offers arbitration relief for disputes and controversies, that agreement is made with the Green Party of Canada Fund – the party’s legal and financial body – not the Green Party itself, so applying an arbitration order on the party is wrong.

“The arbitrator made an error in jurisdiction and therefore in law. The [order] purports to restrain the Green Party which is not a signatory to the Employment Agreement,” the documents read.

It also states that the arbitrator sought to “limit the activities, decisions and communications of members and the membership of the Green Party.”

Paul dodged questions about whether she would file a legal response in court, only reiterating that she wouldn’t discuss issues internal party matters or issues that are “not supposed to be in the public domain.”

“I’m not going to be distracted any further from the work that has to be done,” she said, adding that her main objective is to provide Green volunteers, members, and candidates with the support they need in the event of an election campaign.

“Our party is one whose voice is needed. The voice of more Green MPs is needed because when we have that, we have more people that are in Parliament that are thinking about the people who elected them, we have more people thinking about the climate,” she said.

She noted that her team is on track to run the most diverse slate of candidates in the party’s history as they look to find representation in all 338 ridings.

Should an election be called this summer or fall, as many in Ottawa predict, Paul will go head-to-head yet again with incumbent Liberal MP Marci Ien who won the Toronto Centre byelection last fall to succeed former finance minister Bill Morneau. Paul lost out to Morneau in the 2019 federal election.

There will be an automatic party leadership review after the next election.

“My job is to help us turn the page as quickly as possible so that we can get back to the issues that matter as quickly as possible,” Paul said.

Former party leader Elizabeth May addressed the internal disputes, telling media on Tuesday that the “rumours” about her involvement in party power struggles have pushed her to clarify she has no role in any of the Greens’ governing bodies.

May said she did have first-hand knowledge of Green MP Jenica Atwin’s defection to the Liberals last month, a loss of one-third of the Green caucus that May called “painful” but no cause for “misplaced anger, blame and name-calling.”

Atwin crossed the floor following “irreconcilable” differences in opinion with Paul over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

May says she fully supports the Green Party, adding simply that “our leader is Annamie Paul and only our members have authority to call that into question.”

Paul said she is not “feuding” with anyone and contrary to the popular narrative, “there is no infighting going on. This is really a one-sided attack that is focusing attention where it shouldn’t be.”

With files from The Canadian Press.


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