The Green Party has handed Leader Annamie Paul an ultimatum: repudiate comments from a former staffer accusing MPs of antisemitism or face a confidence vote on her leadership.
The move leaves Ms. Paul in a precarious position, and she will respond to the demand at a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon.
The decision from the party’s federal council came late on Tuesday night after a meeting that stretched for nearly four hours. Members debated immediately triggering the complicated process to remove Ms. Paul.
Her election to the helm of the Greens in October was heralded as a historic success that made international headlines; she is the first Black woman and first Jewish woman to lead a major federal party.
The party has been in turmoil since Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin defected to the Liberals last week. The two remaining MPs blamed Ms. Paul for the floor-crossing, because of how she handled a dispute between her former senior aide Noah Zatzman and Ms. Atwin.
The federal councillors voted to give Ms. Paul two options, interim federal council president Liana Canton Cusmano said in a statement Wednesday.
In a five-to-four vote, the council passed a motion to ask Ms. Paul and B.C. MP Paul Manly to organize a joint statement and press conference, where she would repudiate Mr. Zatzman’s attacks and explicitly support the Green Party caucus. “Otherwise, a vote of non-confidence in the leader will take place on July 20, 2021,” Mx. Canton Cusmano said.
Three-quarters of the federal council would have to vote non-confidence, and then members would vote at a subsequent general meeting in order to remove Ms. Paul from her position, according to the party’s constitution.
The Green Party’s federal council also set a date for that general meeting, Mx. Canton Cusmano said. It will be held virtually on Aug. 21.
Two more members of the federal council also resigned on Tuesday night, two sources who are familiar with the party’s internal deliberations said. The party did not confirm to The Globe and Mail the exit of Nova Scotia representative Lia Renaud and Newfoundland and Labrador representative Lucas Knill, but both their names were removed from the party’s website.
The federal council’s New Brunswick and P.E.I. representatives also recently resigned, as did Ms. May’s husband John Kidder who served as a vice-president on the council until June 4.
Ms. Atwin, who has not agreed to an interview request with The Globe and Mail, told CTV she left in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stand on Israel. Ms. Atwin in May called Israel an apartheid state and suggested Ms. Paul’s position was too soft on Israel.
“There are no two sides to this conflict, only human rights abuses. #End Apartheid,” Ms. Atwin wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Zatzman, then took to Facebook to accuse unspecified Green MPs of antisemitism and pledged to defeat them. He said he would replace them with “progressive climate change champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro Indigenous sovereignty and Zionists.”
When she joined the Liberals, Ms. Atwin said she would not change her position, but she reversed course on Monday.
Ms. May said on Monday that Ms. Paul should apologize to Ms. Atwin and try to persuade her to cross back to the Greens.
Ms. Paul has continually rejected the notion that Ms. Atwin left because of the dispute. On Tuesday she reiterated that position and said Ms. Atwin was talking to the Liberals before the May argument.
In a statement provided to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Mr. Zatzman commended Ms. Atwin for changing her position.
“With antisemitic incidents on the rise, I hope all members of Parliament, without regard to political affiliation, will join Ms. Atwin in denouncing antisemitism,” Mr. Zatzman said.