Green leader Annamie Paul says she won’t be ‘distracted’ as dispute with party brass goes to court

Green leader Annamie Paul says she won't be 'distracted' as dispute with party brass goes to court-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul opens her Toronto Centre campaign office on July 22, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says she won’t be “distracted” by her ongoing conflict with what she describes as a “small group” of highly placed people within the party.

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Yesterday, the Green Party and its associated fund announced they are taking their battle with Paul to court, ending a short-lived truce between Paul and party executives just as a federal election call is expected within weeks.

“These are the actions of a small group of outgoing councillors. This was not an action sanctioned by our federal council, it is not an action that came before our federal council,” Paul said today while opening her Toronto Centre campaign office.

“I am just asking for people to just have patience as we transition, and we are in a big transition…I am not going to be distracted any further from that work that has to be done.”

Court documents show that Paul took action to stop the party from holding a confidence vote on her leadership and reviewing her party membership.

The court documents say the dispute ended up in the hands of an arbitrator, who decided to quash the non-confidence vote scheduled for July 20 and call off the membership review.

In their court filing, the Green Party of Canada Fund and the Green Party of Canada are asking the Ontario Superior Court to pause the arbitration orders that set aside both the non-confidence vote and the leadership review until after the party elects a new federal council on Aug. 19. The filing is also asking for costs.

The Green Party is directed by its members, who elect the federal council to govern between general meetings and “to ensure that the party follows Green values and promotes Green policies,” according to the party’s website.

The party and the fund argue that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in setting aside the confidence vote and the leadership review because Paul’s contract was with the fund, not the party’s federal council.

They also argue that the arbitration process limited the “activities, decisions and communications of members” in relation to the dispute.

Paul did not say whether she would file a response in court.

The conflict between Paul and her party dates back to May, when — during an escalation of violence in the Middle East — she issued a statement calling for a de-escalation and a return to dialogue.

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, who left the Green Party for the Liberals in June, called the statement “totally inadequate.” Her departure left the Greens with just two MPs.

Paul’s political adviser at the time, Noah Zatzman, said in a May 14 Facebook post that he had experienced antisemitism and discrimination within the party and criticized politicians he said were displaying antisemitism, including Green MPs.

He wrote: “We will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!”

The party’s federal council told Paul she had to comply with its directive to publicly repudiate Zatzman’s comments in order to avoid a confidence vote.

Despite Paul’s refusal to admonish Zatzman, the party issued a statement Monday confirming the cancellation of the vote.

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