Green Party Leader Annamie Paul rejected a call for her to immediately resign Tuesday, suggesting it was an undemocratic effort that ignored the will of the party’s membership.
Over the weekend, the Quebec wing of the party called for her ouster following the defection of Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin last week. Ms. Atwin was the only Green MP outside of B.C. and just one of three members of the caucus.
Ms. Paul won the leadership in October with 54 per cent of the vote on the eighth ballot; 2,009 votes separated her and runner up Dimitri Lascaris.
“I believe that I have been given a strong mandate. I believe that I have been given the instructions to work on behalf of Canadians for a green recovery,” Ms. Paul said at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“There are those that are going to continue to support others including some of the other candidates who ran and I would just encourage them again to respect the will of the members who made it very clear who they were seeking to have lead them at this point,” she said.
On Monday, former Green Party leader Elizabeth May declined to publicly state her position on Ms. Paul’s future. She and fellow B.C. Green MP Paul Manly have blamed Ms. Atwin’s exit on Ms. Paul, and Ms. May told The Globe on Monday Ms. Paul should apologize to Ms. Atwin and try and recruit her back to the Greens.
Ms. Atwin, who has not agreed to an interview request with The Globe and Mail, told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Ms. Atwin in May accused Israel of being an apartheid state and said Ms. Paul’s position on Israel was “totally inadequate.”
Ms. Paul’s senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, then took to Facebook to accuse unspecified Green MPs of discrimination and antisemitism. “We will work to defeat you,” he said.
Ms. Paul held a town hall with party members on Monday night which was not open to the public. On Tuesday she told reporters she spent an hour answering unfiltered questions from members.
“I am willing to recognize anything that I might have done to contribute to this situation,” Ms. Paul said about Ms. Atwin’s exit without specifying what she thinks her role was. But she added that the floor-crossing was a “deliberate, dastardly act” by the Liberals to “sow division between us.”
“This was intended to kneecap us,” Ms. Paul said. “They don’t mind what the cost is to my leadership and I say shame on them.”
The party’s federal council will meet on Tuesday evening. For Ms. Paul to be removed, three-quarters of the council would have to agree with it, and then members would vote at a subsequent general meeting, according to the party’s constitution.
“The members are the people that voted for me just over half a year ago and gave me a really strong mandate,” Ms. Paul said.
“It’s important for none of us to seek to circumvent the democratic process and in this case we have to make sure the members and their wishes are what we are respecting.”
Ms. Paul said the party has an automatic leadership review after every election. “The members will be able to pass judgment soon enough,” she said.