In shambles after Paul
By Matthew Fraser, Editor in Chief
In many ways, Paul was either the victim of or cause of immense internal cleavage; it will be up to the new leader to not only heal this broken party but also return an air of seriousness and credibility to their image.
Annamie Paul made Canadian history as the first black or Jewish leader of a national party. Her leadership marked a monumental change in the Canadian political world still reeling from the racism of the residential schools and the Indian Act. Paul in many ways seemed to point to a new path and opportunity for the Canadian people. A path where race, ethnicity and gender were not the primary determinants of who could be accepted into the political class. Yet if Paul herself is indeed telling the truth, this hopeful path forwards was a mirage, concealing the racism within her own party that would ultimately doom her political efforts.
In her September 27 speech, Paul specifically noted that the infighting was the worst time of her life and that she no longer has the heart to continue the internal political battles that hampered her short-lived leadership tenure. But this outlook was contradicted in an opinion piece published to the Toronto Star by former leader Elizabeth May. From May’s perspective, Paul’s leadership suffered from its divergence from core non-hierarchical Green Party values. Not only does May paint a picture of a fresh hierarchy with Paul at the head, but she also adds a new perspective to her own silence and the internal directives issued by Paul.
Paul also believes racism contributed to her lack of success. This is a damning charge at a time when racism and sexism are one of the main driving factors of our political world. In a sense, regardless of what is unearthed by the Green Party leadership review, or even how much information is unearthed supporting Paul’s claim, the damage of the claim has been done. How will voters have confidence in a party whose former leader claims racism forced her out? In fact, how will this charge affect future election runs for the party?
So where does this leave the Green Party? Given the mandatory leadership review and the resignation of Paul, the first step will be an interim leader. Potentially, this leader could be the 2020 runner up to Paul, Dimitri Lascaris. If Lascaris were to take over as Green Party leader the question becomes how he could move forwards and reunite the party. In many ways, Paul was either the victim of or cause of immense internal cleavage; it will be up to the new leader to not only heal this broken party but also return an air of seriousness and credibility to their image.
The Greens will need to make greater inroads in Ontario and across the eastern provinces as well. Paul’s inability to secure her own riding may have been less important than the parties’ inability to place candidates in Quebec and sections of Ontario. Though many of these ridings would have been nearly unwinnable, the inability to show up only furthers the skepticism many voters hold.
Though Annamie Paul will always hold a place as the first black or Jewish leader of a Canadian political party, she now holds the dubious title of hobbling her former party after a poor election showing.