Former Green Party leader Elizabeth May says she is not involved in the turmoil that has been a challenge for her successor, Annamie Paul.
“Rumours have prompted media to continue to ask for clarification if I am playing some role in party matters,” Ms. May said in a statement on Tuesday. “I have no role – official or unofficial – in any of the Green Party governing bodies.”
She added, “I can provide no insights into recent events.”
On Monday, a non-confidence vote and party review of Ms. Paul’s membership were called off. The party announced the cancellation of both on its website without explanation.
One notice said motions of non-confidence in Ms. Paul will not be considered in the current term of the party’s federal council. A non-confidence vote by the council had been set for Tuesday. Had three-quarters of council members voted against Ms. Paul’s leadership, the issue would have been taken up by Green Party members at a vote in August.
The Green Party has been facing challenges over internal tensions that boiled over in June after Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin defected to the Liberals.
In a recent virtual town hall, party president Liana Canton Cusmano told Green Party supporters 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 council members, including the president, whose terms expire soon.
Ms. May said in her statement that Ms. Atwin’s exit constituted the only recent party events “that remain deeply troubling and about which I did have first-hand knowledge.”
“That loss is painful, but the misplaced anger, blame and name calling that have followed it are doing even more damage than the event itself,” she wrote.
Ms. May said she recognized and “totally supported” Ms. Paul’s decisions, and communicated to her early in her leadership “that she needed to take centre stage and become known as our leader.”
To that end, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, one of two Greens in Parliament, said she gave up issuing press releases, joining Ms. Paul at news conferences or holding her own, and focused on being a parliamentarian.
“This is a change I asked for – for myself and my family. Being a Member of Parliament and applying myself full time to the interest of my constituents, working with other Green MPs has been my singular focus.”
Ms. May offered some support for Ms. Paul, and said she has no difficulty accepting her recent wish that the former leader not make any media comments on party matters.
“Our leader is Annamie Paul, and only our members have authority to call that into question. We need to pull together for what appears to be an imminent election campaign.”
Ms. Paul, who has been leader for nine months, has also acknowledged that election challenge. “Let’s focus our attention on where it needs to be: electing more Greens,” she told a news conference on Monday in the Toronto Centre riding, where she intends to make her third attempt to win the traditionally Liberal seat. “This is an incredibly important time for us to unify.”
The Green Leader has declined to explain what led to the measures against her being scrapped, saying she is unable to comment on them.
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