Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Federal Green party Leader Annamie Paul cuts the ribbon of her campaign office in Toronto Centre on July 22, 2021.

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Green Leader Annamie Paul sought Thursday to frame a legal challenge from her own party as the work of a “small group” of outgoing executives, as she tries to push past the turmoil still roiling the Greens in the shadow of a looming federal election.

Backed by sign-toting supporters at her campaign office ribbon cutting in downtown Toronto, Ms. Paul said the court action was not sanctioned by federal council – the Greens’ main governing body.

“This was not a decision of our council. This was a decision of a small group that did not seek the approval of council for their decision,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

The party submitted court filings Wednesday that aim to overturn arbitration orders to cancel a non-confidence vote against Ms. Paul by the council. The notice of application also seeks to resume a review of Ms. Paul’s membership in the Greens that would lead to her suspension from the party, but that the arbitrator froze.

Two senior party sources say several federal council members found out about the lawsuit only after party president Liana Canton Cusmano sent an e-mail, obtained by The Canadian Press, to party members Wednesday afternoon.

The submissions in Ontario Superior Court ended a brief ceasefire between Ms. Paul and party brass, though Ms. Paul took issue with any depiction of “infighting” and said a coterie of councillors whose terms will expire in under a month are behind the court manoeuvre.

“I am not feuding with anyone,” she told reporters outside her new office at the heart of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.

“There is no infighting going on. This is really a one-sided attack that is focusing attention where it shouldn’t be.”

Ms. Paul declined to speak further to the legal proceeding that revives the threat to her leadership, seeking to refocus attention on party priorities such as climate change, housing affordability and drug policies.

She did not directly address why she moved to stop a non-confidence vote slated for last Tuesday if only a handful of party brass opposed her.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Paul, who was elected leader in October but has no seat in the House of Commons, expressed optimism at her prospects in the Toronto Centre riding despite two losses there in the past two years and the party’s recent revocation of $250,000 in funding that had been earmarked for her campaign.

“There’s no question that having support from the central party would help,” she said, but insisted momentum is growing as she canvasses the area daily.

The Greens aim to furnish a candidate in all 338 ridings if an election is called, Ms. Paul said, adding that the nominees are far more diverse than in past elections. The party has nominated about 55 candidates so far.

In Wednesday’s legal application, the party along with the Green Party of Canada Fund say an arbitrator exceeded his authority in requiring party executives to cancel their non-confidence vote against Ms. Paul as well as a review of her party membership.

The documents state that Ms. Paul’s employment contract was with the Green fund, a separate legal entity that controls the party purse strings, rather than with the party proper or its federal council. The arbitrator “erred in law” because he had no authority to impose orders on an entity that is unconnected with Ms. Paul’s contract, the filings argue.

Despite that distinction, multiple sources say it was federal council rather than the fund that voted not to renew the contract of senior Paul adviser Noah Zatzman.

Story continues below advertisement

The decision came after Mr. Zatzman made comments on social media in response to Green MPs’ posts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stirring up controversy in May that culminated in Green MP Jenica Atwin defecting to the Liberals.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not public.

Ms. Paul mulled the possibility that the next slate of party executives could be equally recalcitrant when council turns over on Aug. 19 following elections.

“I’m not taking anything for granted at all,” she said. “I’m assuming good will, that people that are running for our council are seeking to do so in the best interest of our party.”

Ms. Paul came in second to Liberal Marci Ien in a Toronto Centre by-election last fall – they earned about 33 per cent and 42 per cent of the vote respectively – to replace former finance minister Bill Morneau in the riding.

The Liberal stronghold has been held by the party since 1993 and has been won by prominent Grits including Bill Graham and Bob Rae.

Story continues below advertisement

Toronto Centre encompasses wealthy neighbourhoods as well as some of the most disadvantaged in Canada, with a gentrified Cabbagetown butting up against shelters, payday lenders and Regent Park and St. James Town.

Ms. Paul came in fourth place when she ran there in the 2019 general election.

There are now two Green MPs in Parliament, including former leader Elizabeth May.

The party has been riven by power struggles and factionalism for months as Ms. Paul attempts to steer the Greens in a new direction.

Since October, Ms. Paul has steered the party toward more socially progressive ground that encroaches directly on NDP turf, calling for a guaranteed livable income, universal pharmacare and free postsecondary education.

She has also reiterated her call for a national housing strategy, decriminalization of drug possession coupled with safe supply programs, and ending the ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.

Story continues below advertisement

Green Leader Annamie Paul is seeking to frame a legal challenge from her own party as the work of a 'small group' of outgoing executives that amounts to a 'one-sided attack.' The Canadian Press

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies