Canada’s Green Party chief stepping down after election loss

Annamie Paul, first Black woman to lead a federal party in Canada, resigns as leader after poor vote results last week.

Annamie Paul won the Green Party leadership last year, but had failed to win a seat in Parliament and was in a battle with the party's federal council [Chris Helgren/Reuters]

The head of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul, has announced that she is stepping down after failing to win a seat in last week’s federal election and leading the party to disappointing overall results.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Paul – the first Black and Jewish woman to lead a federal party in Canada’s history – said she was informed shortly after the September 20 vote that the Greens were launching a review of her leadership.

“I just asked myself whether this is something that I wanted to continue, whether I was willing to continue to put up with the attacks I knew would be coming, whether to continue to have to fight and struggle just to fulfil my democratically elected role as leader of this party,” she said.

“I just don’t have the heart for it.”

Paul became the first Black woman to lead a federal party in Canada after beating out seven other candidates on October 3 last year, succeeding Elizabeth May, who led the Greens for 13 years.

But she has for months been in a battle with the party’s federal council, which tried to remove her before the election. The party did not provide funding for Paul to hire a campaign staff or a national campaign manager.

Annamie Paul, second from left, participated in the English-language leaders’ debate on September 9 [File: Adrian Wyld/Pool via Reuters]

She also was the only federal party leader who did not hold a seat in Parliament heading into the September 20 election, in which she was trying to get elected in Canada’s smallest and most densely populated constituency, Toronto Centre.

But the 48-year-old, who failed to win a by-election in that riding in late October 2020, ultimately finished fourth with only 8.5 percent support in last week’s vote.

“When I was elected and put in this role, I was breaking a glass ceiling,” Paul said on Monday.

“What I didn’t realise at the time is that I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head and leave a lot of shards of glass that I was going to have to crawl over throughout my time as a leader.”

She also called her time as party leader “the worst period” in her life.

The Greens – who campaigned on a promise to enact tough measures to tackle the climate crisis, a top priority for Canadians – had a disappointing showing in the recent election, winning only two seats in the 338-seat House of Commons – down from three in the last vote in 2019.

The party also only won 2.3 percent of the popular vote this time – a drop of four percentage points compared with two years ago.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies