Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is back under fire after interim president Liana Cusmano confirmed to party members that the Federal Council will pursue a non-confidence vote on her leadership.

During a town hall meeting with party members Tuesday, Cusmano read a letter outlining the allegations against Paul that claim she failed in her obligations as leader, justifying the move.

“This vote of non-confidence is important and the most consequential thing that has ever been undertaken at the Green Party of Canada. We do not take this matter, or the decision to hold this vote, lightly,” Cusmano told members. “But we know this: The Green Party deserves strong, thoughtful, action-oriented leadership that aligns with the values and policies of the party.

“Moreover, we believe a leader unites instead of divides. All of this will be tested on July 20th.”

Paul pushed back hard.

“These actions by the president are unprecedented in the history of the Green Party,” she said. “I have said before that when people like me achieve positions of senior authority, all of a sudden, the rules change and the goalposts are moved.

“However, a small group of rogue councillors, whose terms will expire in August, will not deter or distract me from the mandate I was given by our members last October, or the important work that they elected me to do.”

Among the allegations Cusmano read to members are that Paul failed “to openly condemn the actions of Noah Zatzman” — her former political adviser who publicly threatened to try to defeat sitting Green MPs who spoke out against Israel bombing Gaza — failed “to collaborate with and support members of the caucus,” and failed “to respond to communications from the party’s chief agent, units of the party, and members of the party regarding Mr. Zatzman.

“It is further alleged that the failure to meet her obligations as leader has caused the defection of a member of our caucus to another party, intangible damage to the party in the form of impairment to the party's reputation, cancelled memberships, reduced donations, and withdrawals of potential candidates for the upcoming general election,” Cusmano said.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is back under fire after interim president Liana Cusmano confirmed to party members that the Federal Council will pursue a non-confidence vote. #cdnpoli

Cancelled memberships, and the lost revenue that entails, are understood to be significant contributing factors behind the decision to reportedly lay off staff ahead of an expected federal election call.

Zatzman disputed the allegations in the letter, calling on the party to walk back its remarks.

“If the party does not immediately retract this attached statement that was just read out publicly, I will begin legal action,” Zatzman wrote in an email to Cusmano and interim executive director Dana Taylor that was viewed by Canada’s National Observer, copying a host of other party emails.

“Liana, your conduct is truly appalling, your statement contains alternative facts, and you should be ashamed of yourself for these Soviet-style tactics,” he wrote. “This is Canada — a free and open democracy — your actions are autocratic, borderline Orwellian, and wrong; and have caused me great harm.”

Cusmano did not immediately return a request for comment.

One notable candidate who dropped out over the infighting is Dr. Lisa Gunderson, who announced on June 19 that she was withdrawing from the nomination contest to represent Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, citing concerns that “recent events are not consistent with Green values” at the time. On Monday, Gunderson announced a new target in her sights: A vice-president role on the party’s Federal Council.

“This is a critical moment for the Green Party of Canada and its future, and we need a Federal Council that can truly listen and work collaboratively for our party’s success,” she said in a statement.

Green Party members across the country are running for spots on the Federal Council, with voting scheduled to close July 12, and results announced on Aug. 19.

Cusmano’s town hall meeting with members comes on the heels of recent public disagreements among the party’s top brass. Paul told the Globe and Mail the Federal Council was no longer requiring her to renounce Zatzman, pushing Cusmano to tell the Canadian Press that was false.

Earlier this month following a heated press conference, where Paul accused her detractors on the Federal Council of “racist” and “sexist” remarks after trying to topple her, Paul took to social media to say that “Collaboration and collegiality doesn't require bowing down. It doesn’t mean being brought to heel or giving into ultimatums.”

If on July 20, at least 75 per cent of councillors support a non-confidence vote, then Paul’s leadership will be put to a vote at a general members meeting Aug. 21. Previously, Paul was told she could avoid a non-confidence vote by publicly renouncing Zatzman, but to date, she has not.

John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
June 30, 2021, 11:33 pm

This story has been updated to include comments from Noah Zatzman.

Keep reading

The GPC still lost a third of its representation in parliament under Paul's watch. Any leader of any party would be put to a non-confidence vote if that kind of thing happened under their watch, regardless of race, gender or religion. Does Paul deserve to lead? Possibly. Is this vote also necessary? Absolutely.

Whatta sh*t show. Hired staff threatening to defeat the party's elected members (in what alternate reality does that happen?) Elected MPs silent about the leader. A split executive council. Where have we seen some of these things before - well Jagmit Singh was elected NDP leader against the wishes of sitting party MPs and most of the party establishment. Guess we'll see what the members decide, again.

Notice the difference. The NDP establishment sucked it up and went with the democratically elected leader, even though Jagmeet stumbled a bit before he found his feet. No doubt there was a bit of grumbling and sniping behind the scenes, but they didn't turn it into a spectacle. I voted for Charlie Angus, myself--I'd never heard of Jagmeet Singh at the time, after all. Turns out he's a good man. I'm not sure he's what the NDP need in a leader, but he's way better for the NDP than turning into a bunch of treacherous backstab artists would be.

This thing with Paul makes all sides look bad. Paul doesn't impress me, but these people trying to crucify her impress me a lot less. Oh, and Zatsisname seems like a creep too. Plus the whole thing makes the "Greens are more democratic and go by the membership's policies" look like a bad joke. The leader clearly pays no attention, the Z guy utterly ignores it, but the Green council types are obviously just using it as an excuse to cancel the democratic vote for leader in what would be a classic backroom power play if it weren't being done IN PUBLIC.

The NDP might be a bunch of wimps who live in eternal fear that the media might say they're (gulp) RADICAL, but at least they're fairly nice to each other as far as I can tell.

Not every criticism is about race or gender, Annamie. There's also what you do.

So the rights of Zionists to threaten sitting MP's if they oppose indiscriminate bombings in Gaza is part of Canadian democracy? And if party officials think otherwise, the Zionist will begin legal proceedings against them?
It seems rather obvious that Paul is deflecting from that issue with her charge of sexism and racism....and the fact that she chooses to be silent on Zaatman's arrogant behavior likely suggests to many Greens that their party has been co-opted by a religious minority more interested in defending Israeli actions than fighting climate change.

When the west set up a new state in the middle east, it obviously had no idea the trouble it would cause. Welcome to military industrial global catastrophe. Just don't call that world view might sue.

We all need to do a much deeper analysis of the world view burning through the ecosphere....racism, sexism, religious bigotry, colonialism, and imperial militarism....all play their part. Right wing fundamentalisms of all religious stripes are complicit.

Residential schools are racist Anamie; your inactions are just partisan.

From an outsiders perspective, the pro-Palestinian and pro-Zionist tweets that started this storm are both extremist and by main stream values, unacceptable. It would have put any leader into a no-win situation.
On the response of the Green Party Council: Coincidentally, I've just finished reading Jan Wongs "Red China Blues". This statement almost perfectly matches the kind of party line prose used in struggle criticisms used by Maoists in the 1970's to depose rivals during internal power struggles: “failure ... to respond to communications from the party’s chief agent, units of the party, and members of the party regarding Mr. Zatzman."
This kind of doctrinaire approach to politics is not a winning strategy in Canada.

The tragic fact of Annamie Paul (whom I supported in the leadership race) is that this "unprecedented behaviour by Federal Council" is a result of her unprecedented behaviour as leader. It saddens me greatly what is happening; I wish it wasn't so. I can't for the life of me understand why Annamie Paul is willing to fall on the sword of the outrageous comments by Noah Zatzman. No political party would tolerate this. Annamie has a lot to offer the Green Party but this tragic blind spot of hers is of her own making. Once again, I wish it wasn't so.

I don't understand either, why she wouldn't have simply denounced Zatzman from the get go.

The Zionist lobby is more powerful in our country than most Canadians realize....that lobby falls in line with US foreign policy as its become an untouchable topic. In addition, its exists in a kind of silo of silence, if you'll forgive the musicality of that phrase.

We're directed to fear and loathe certain countries and give others behaving in a similar way, a pass. Iran is bad; Saudi Arabia good.....Venezuela bad, Brazil? Bolsonaro refused to buy vaccines for his people; Meduro can't buy them because of US sanctions.

In this charade of partisan finger pointing and persistent 'looking away' Israel is the good guy....Palestinian resistance the problem.

But seriously? How do you square a serious understanding of the theats posed by climate change, with either indifference or ignorance as to what is happening in the Holy Land?

I can't do it....but for Anamie it may not have been a problem. Until Zaatman, whom I suspect, she feels 'religious bound' to support.

Goodness me, what a toxic mix of religion, politics, irrationality, egos, and white supremacy has erupted in the "Green" Party. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that the Greens are touting for white supremacy - oh no! say it ain't so!

There goes my vote for the Green party federally. I think the Ontario Green leadership is still relatively focused and sane - but so far, they have not been required to opine on intractable foreign relations that, as far as I know, every European/White political party has abysmally failed to ameliorate!

I agree that the mix of religion, politics and ego was a problem, but I have to strongly disagree on the "white supremacy" aspect. Paul may have levelled such accusations against other party members, but that does not mean that it was a motivating factor in their calls for her to renounce Zatzman's statements. I'd say the fact that Zatzman publicly announced his desire and intent to have the Green party literally run against its own members based upon their stance in the Israel-Palestine conflict is far more critical. White supremacy cannot definitively be proven yet, but an incredibly toxic advisor and a highly questionable set of actions on the part of Paul are far more evident and far more credible as sources for the party to call a vote on Paul's leadership.

There is a distinction between calling for someone to renounce somebody's statements, and saying you're going to run them out of town on a rail if they don't. I find it fairly plausible that the approach would have been more temperate and less threatening if Paul had been a white. Just because Paul screwed up doesn't mean the response to it wasn't, consciously or otherwise, impacted by race. Sure, maybe the Green council types are such treacherous hardasses that that would have been their go-to if Paul had been a white woman, or a white man, but their move was unusual enough in its level of over the top that I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest the possibility race was a factor.

Actually, what I failed to say is that this internecine blood letting by Green Party apparatchiks is exposing the leadership's total loss of control and focus. Here we are in the most visible of Climate disaster effects and this so called Green Party has completely lost the plot!

What do they stand for? It does not appear to be the planet.

I agree.

Insofar as race is acceptable as a construct, then would not Israel's destruction of Palestine constitute racism and Islamophobia (since the majority of Palestinians identify as Muslims)? Bizarrely, Paul has used racism as a charge against people fighting against racism. Moreover, if the Green Party is racist, then how did she get voted party leader? The solution is simple: all prejudice against any other ethnic or religious group based solely on membership should be deplored. All racist actions should be condemned.

I don't think that stuff is all as mutually exclusive as you think. Yes, Israel's relationship to Palestine is racist and it's weird for an anti-racist to apparently support Israel (technically, we don't actually know--she has strenuously avoided saying anything at all about that actual issue). I know a Jewish guy like that; anti-racist on all other issues, pretending to himself that race cannot be an issue in Israel/Palestine.

But Paul isn't saying the people after her are racist for supporting Palestinians, she's saying they're racist for going after HER. This is far from impossible, and she knows these people while I don't. Meanwhile, she isn't accusing the Green party in general of being racist, she is accusing a small group of party apparatchiks mounting a coup against her of being racist. So again, it's not contradictory for the Green MEMBERSHIP to NOT be racist and vote for her, but for those Green backroom types to BE racist and try to oust her.

I'm not saying it's the case, I'm just saying it's not contradictory or bizarre. I don't know what's the case, but I don't think anyone involved is exactly covering themselves with glory. Including the Green MP who, while understandably cheesed about Za-whatsis' initial statement and Paul's lack of response, reacted to the Greens being too pro-Israel by crossing the floor to . . . the Liberals?! Um, yeah, sure, because the Liberals are totally down with criticism of Israel . . . not!

The only good thing about this is that there is time to get rid of Annamie Paul before the election. Her legacy will be that her leadership has damaged her party and she will leave it bleeding and in tatters. Rather than look at what she had done, she blames and distracts by saying it is about her race or sexual orientation.
It is telling that she states, "Collaboration and collegiality doesn't require bowing down. It doesn’t mean being brought to heel or giving into ultimatums". What she does not get is that leading a party is not about being a dictator. Especially the Green Party which is made up of thoughtful, intelligent members focussed on values which are aligned to my own: justice, equality, short a better world.
For Paul to say the party is sexist and racist is such a low blow. One reason she got so many votes is that the party is NOT racist or sexist. She got many votes BECAUSE of her race and orientation. The problem is her actions but she refuses to even consider that.
The Green Party of Canada is not just a leader. There are many wonderful people involved and they will rebuild from the destruction that Paul with leave behind.
Canada needs the Green Party now more than ever.