Annamie Paul won’t commit to publicly disavowing her former adviser Noah Zatzman, a prerequisite to avoid a non-confidence vote on her leadership, saying she needs time to think it over.
The comments came during a press conference Wednesday, when the Green Party leader discussed Tuesday night’s emergency federal council meeting. It’s understood that meeting was called to set a date for a non-confidence vote, but that plan was squashed. Instead, the council adopted a resolution requiring Paul to renounce Zatzman and publicly commit to supporting the Green caucus, or face a non-confidence vote July 20.
Paul said she has seen the resolution, but hasn’t formally received it, and cited that as a reason to not take a clear stand on where she will fall on Zatzman Wednesday. Previously, Paul has noted Zatzman no longer works in her office.
“It's an important matter, I want to take it very seriously. I want to make sure that I give it the thought it deserves,” she said. “This resolution, as I understand, it was passed at 11 p.m. last night, so I will be taking some time to reflect.”
Paul did, however, “categorically reject” any suggestion she doesn’t publicly support the Green caucus.
Still, Paul conceded her tenure hasn’t been rosy. She said when she became leader, she “inherited the current set” of councillors, and that while many are committed to transforming the party to be more diverse, not everyone is.
“It is time to acknowledge that even though our members support this work, not all councillors do... They produced a list of allegations, allegations that were so racist, so sexist, that they were immediately disavowed by both of our MPs as offensive and inflammatory,” Paul said.
The flurry of accusations in the letter, obtained by the Canadian Press, was signed by six of 15 federal councillors and reveals the depth of the rift tearing the party apart.
“Since her election as leader, Annamie Paul has acted with an autocratic attitude of hostility, superiority and rejection, failing to assume her duty to be an active, contributing, respectful, attentive member of federal council, failing to develop a collaborative working relationship, failing to engage in respectful discussions, and failing to use dialogue and compromise,” the document claims.
It also says Paul has attended few council meetings and “has displayed anger in long, repetitive, aggressive monologues and has failed to recognize the value of any ideas except her own.”
"Collaboration and collegiality does not mean bowing down. It doesn't mean being brought to heel,” Green Party Leader @AnnamiePaul said Wednesday. #cdnpoli
“The plan of this small group of councillors, who are on their way out, did not succeed,” Paul said.
Councillors Lia Renaud, who represents the Nova Scotia wing, and Lucas Knell, who is the Newfoundland and Labrador representative, both resigned Tuesday night, reflecting the regional toll of the infighting. Notably, the Green Party’s federal council seats for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are vacant, calling into question the ability of the party to compete in Atlantic Canada.
Paul said as a new leader, it’s important for her to recognize when she makes mistakes, but that because of her identity, she feels there is a double standard being applied.
“Often when people like me are elected or appointed to senior leadership roles, the rules of the game seem to change,” she said. “Suddenly there is a need for more oversight, heightened accountability, swifter and more severe sanctions and a hiving off of responsibilities previously related to the roles.
“That is something that I will resist… Collaboration and collegiality does not mean bowing down. It doesn't mean being brought to heel,” she said.
Paul then put the Liberal Party of Canada in her crosshairs, casting Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin’s defection as a “craven” play for a majority in an upcoming election.
“The Liberal Party of Canada has demonstrated that it is hell-bent on winning their majority at almost any cost,” she said. “By their own admission in recent days, they have sought to sow division, and to create disarray within the Green Party of Canada for their own political advantage in key regions where Greens are surging.”
— With files from the Canadian Press
John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer