The Green Party significantly diminished leader Annamie Paul’s support team on Wednesday, temporarily laying off key staff members just weeks before she faces a possible ouster.
The move is the latest blow to the beleaguered leader, whose party executive has called a non-confidence vote on her tenure for July 20.
Two staff members in Ms. Paul’s office received layoff notices on Wednesday, three sources told The Globe and Mail. They were let go as part of a broader set of layoffs the party is carrying out despite objections from Ms. Paul, the sources said.
According to the sources, the two staff members were the only ones working directly in Ms. Paul’s office: Victoria Galea, Ms. Paul’s executive assistant, and Jessica Hamilton, her liaison in Toronto – a position critical to Ms. Paul’s bid to be elected as a member of Parliament for Toronto Centre.
The Globe is not identifying the sources because they were not authorized to discuss internal party matters.
The party’s executive director, Dana Taylor, and its spokesperson, John Chenery, did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Ms. Paul declined to comment on Wednesday.
“Further to the notice that was issued last week, this is to confirm that you have been identified as one of the individuals who will be subject to a temporary layoff,” reads a letter Mr. Taylor sent to one staff member, which was obtained by The Globe.
The letter does not say how long the dismissal is expected to last. “It is our hope that we will be able to recall you shortly,” Mr. Taylor wrote.
The party’s internal tensions boiled over in June following the defection of Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin from the Greens to the Liberals. Since then, neither of the two remaining Green Party MPs have spoken in support of Ms. Paul, and both have blamed one of the leader’s former staffers for Ms. Atwin’s floor-crossing.
Sean Yo, who worked on Ms. Paul’s leadership campaign, called the layoffs a “targeted purge.” Mr. Yo was briefly the party’s national campaign chair, but he told The Globe on Wednesday he left the role because he didn’t believe the party had given him the means to be successful. He said he still works closely with people in the party.
“To my perception, [Dana] Taylor is targeting those that he sees as enemies,” Mr. Yo said.
In a subsequently emailed statement, Mr. Yo added that almost half of the party’s staff are leaving, either because of layoffs or as a result of what he called “involuntary exits” by people looking for other jobs because of the layoff threat. Mr. Yo said Mr. Taylor has justified the layoffs by reasoning that the party needs to cut expenses.
But Mr. Yo said that rationale doesn’t square with the party’s most recent fundraising.
Elections Canada filings show the party raised $3.4-million in 2020. First-quarter financial filings, the only ones available so far for 2021, show the party raised $677,539 in the quarter, about $100,000 more than it raised during the same period last year.
In a virtual town hall last week, party president Liana Canton Cusmano told Green Party supporters that Ms. Paul failed to meet her “obligations” as leader, which caused Ms. Atwin’s defection. At the time, Ms. Paul dismissed the move against her as the work of a “rump group” of a few councilors, including the president, whose terms are expiring soon.
“This is not where I believe their focus should lie,” Ms. Paul told The Globe on June 30.
To succeed, the non-confidence vote would require 75-per-cent support from the federal council, the party’s governing body. Then there would be a final vote by party members on Aug. 21. If members were to vote against Ms. Paul, she would be removed as party leader.
The Greens are well behind other federal parties in their election planning. As of Tuesday the party had nominated 38 candidates. To run a full slate, 338 candidates are required.
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