Greens leader Annamie Paul says she will not be “distracted” by her ongoing conflict with a “small group” of high-ranking people within the party.
Yesterday, the Greens and their affiliated fund announced that they would bring their fight against Paul to court, ending a short-lived truce between Paul and the party executive board, while a call for federal elections is expected within a few weeks.
“These are the actions of a small group of outgoing councilors. This was not an action approved by our Federal Council, it is not an action taken before our Federal Council,” Paul said today at the opening of her campaign office in the Toronto Center.
“I’m just asking people to just be patient with the transition, and we are in a major transition … I am not further distracted from this work that needs to be done.”
Court documents show that Paul took steps to prevent the party from holding a vote of confidence on their leadership and reviewing their party membership.
According to court documents, the dispute ended up in the hands of an arbitrator who decided to lift the no-confidence vote scheduled for July 20 and cancel the membership review.
In their lawsuit, the Green Party of Canada Fund and the Green Party of Canada are calling on the Ontario Superior Court to suspend the arbitration orders, which suspend both the no-confidence vote and review of leadership until the party elects a new federal council on August 19. The submission also requires costs.
The Greens are headed by their members, who elect the Federal Council, which governs between general assemblies and “ensures that the party follows green values and promotes green politics,” it says on the party’s website.
The party and the fund argue that the arbitrator exceeded his powers to overturn the vote of confidence and review the leadership because Paul’s contract was with the fund and not with the party’s federal council.
They also argue that the arbitration process limited the “activities, decisions and communications of members” in relation to the dispute.
Paul didn’t say if she would file a response in court.
The conflict between Paul and her party dates back to May when, amid escalating violence in the Middle East, she issued a statement calling for de-escalation and a return to dialogue.
Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, who left the Greens in June in favor of the Liberals, called the statement “totally inadequate”. Their departure left the Greens with only two MPs.
Paul’s political adviser at the time, Noah Zatzman, said in a May 14 Facebook post that he had experienced anti-Semitism and discrimination within the party and criticized politicians he believed to be anti-Semitic, including Green MPs.
He wrote: “We will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are Antifa and Pro LGBT and Pro Indigenous Sovereignty and Zionists !!!!!
The party’s Federal Council told Paul that it had to follow his instructions to publicly reject Zatzman’s statements in order to avoid a vote of confidence.
Despite Paul’s refusal to admonish Zatzman, the party issued a statement on Monday confirming the cancellation of the vote.