Legal talks are dragging out Annamie Paul’s departure from Green leadership

Legal talks are dragging out Annamie Paul’s departure from Green leadership

by Sue Jones
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Annamie Paul’s resignation as leader of the Green Party of Canada — which was expected to take effect this week — still isn’t complete because her lawyer is in negotiations with party lawyers to settle a legal conflict.

Paul Face 2 Face

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul takes part in CBC The National’s Face to Face, hosted by Rosemary Barton, on Sept. 14, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Annamie Paul’s resignation as leader of the Green Party of Canada — which was expected to take effect this week — still isn’t complete because her lawyer is negotiating with party lawyers to settle a legal conflict, sources tell CBC News.

Paul told a press conference in Toronto in late September that she was calling it quits after a poor election performance and weeks of infighting within the party over her leadership.

But more than two weeks later, Paul’s resignation still has not been finalized and she remains party leader, Green spokesperson John Chenery told CBC News.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation — who were not authorized to speak publicly — told CBC News that two factors are delaying Paul’s departure.

First, both sides are negotiating compensation for legal costs Paul incurred fighting a bid to remove her as leader before the September general election.

The second unresolved issue has to do with a pre-election legal conflict between Paul and the party. Paul took her party to arbitration in July to challenge a bid by some within the party to remove her as leader.

The arbitrator ruled in her favour. Then the lawyers for the Greens filed notice of an application for leave to appeal in the Ontario Superior Court that argued the arbitrator erred in his judgment.

Chenery declined to comment on the negotiations and Paul has not replied to CBC’s request for comment.

Green Party sources told CBC News the leave to appeal application is moot and shouldn’t delay exit negotiations. The sources said that the application will be withdrawn at some point — but not immediately, because the party is wary of incurring unnecessary legal fees.

The Green Party Fund has said the party is facing dire financial issues after monthly costs outpaced gross income by $105,000 in May and $103,000 in June. The party reported it spent about $100,000 on legal fees in July alone during arbitration proceedings.

Last week, the Ontario Green Party issued a statement rebuking its federal sibling over its rocky relationship with Paul.

“We are deeply disappointed by Annamie Paul’s painful experience as leader of the Green Party of Canada,” says the statement from the Ontario Greens.

“Annamie’s election as the first Black Jewish woman to lead a major Canadian political party was a historic milestone, with great potential to draw more under-represented Canadians into public service. Unfortunately, what happened may do the contrary.”

Leadership tainted by infighting, policy disputes

Paul, a relative moderate in Green circles, came to the leadership promising aggressive action on climate change and policies to address systemic discrimination.

But Paul was hampered by party infighting and a dispute over the party’s policy on Israeli and Palestinian issues.

During the last Middle East crisis in May, Paul called for de-escalation and a return to dialogue. That response was seen as insufficiently critical of Israel by some in the party — including one of its then MPs, Jenica Atwin, who later crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

Jenica Atwin

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, elected as a Green, crossed over to the Liberals after a conflict with leader Annamie Paul over Middle East policy. (Jon Collicott/CBC)

Sean Yo, who ran the campaign that elected Ontario’s first provincial Green MPP, Mike Schreiner, called for an end to the legal action over Paul’s leadership.

“From my perspective, this is moot,” said Yo, Paul’s former byelection campaign director. “We’d be all really better off getting on with the really important task of coming together and deciding how we are going to move forward as a party.”

Daniel Green, a former federal councillor and a vocal critic of Paul, confirms that he’s heard negotiations are underway. Green said he hopes both sides come to a resolution and added he hopes Paul receives compensation for her legal fees.

“Yes, I do believe Annamie should get some compensation of her legal fees,” he said. “The question is how much and how much can the party afford. I mean, you can’t squeeze blood from a stone.”

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