Elizabeth May finally breaks silence on Green leadership drama, calls for party unity – Toronto Star

Elizabeth May, left, and Annamie Paul, right, appeared together at a campaign event in Toronto on Sept. 3, 2019.

By Alex BallingallOttawa Bureau

Tue., July 20, 20212 min. read

OTTAWA — Elizabeth May is calling on the divided Green party to “pull together” ahead of the next federal election, after remaining silent amid threats to Annamie Paul’s leadership.

In her first public statement to the Star since top officials started trying to formally depose Paul last month, the former party leader said the Greens must move on from this period of bitter infighting.

But while she unequivocally expressed full support for the party, May did not provide a ringing endorsement for Paul. Instead, she pointed out that Paul remains leader and said Greens must unite ahead of the next federal election.

“To be clear, I fully support the Green Party of Canada, our values and our constitution. Our leader is Annamie Paul and only our members have authority to call that into question,” May’s statement said.

“We need to pull together for what appears to be an imminent election campaign.”

May declined an interview request from the Star for the seventh time in the past eight days on Tuesday.

In her statement, the MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands said the turmoil is causing more political harm to the party than the departure last month of Green MP Jenica Atwin to the governing Liberal party.

“That loss is painful, but the misplaced anger, blame and name-calling that have followed it are doing even more damage,” May’s statement said.

May also addressed what she called “rumours” about her role in the current party drama. Several party sources have said they believe officials opposing Paul are more loyal to the former leader — something May rejected as “ridiculous” in an April interview with the Star.

On Monday, Paul said it was “reasonable” to ask whether May was involved in what she called a “one-sided campaign” to end her leadership, but she declined to say anything more.

May said in her statement Tuesday that she does not sit on any of the internal governing bodies of the party, including the federal council, which was slated to hold a confidence vote in Paul’s leadership that was abruptly cancelled this week.

She added that Paul asked her not to make public comments and that she can “provide no insights into recent events.”

“I am well aware that if I do or say anything about internal party matters, the impact of my comments would be oversized,” May’s statement said. “I will continue to refuse any media requests about internal party matters.”

The Green party has been gripped by infighting for months, with Paul describing how a coterie of federal council members has resisted her agenda to make the party more diverse and tried to depose her.

Unnamed members of the council accused Paul in June of showing an “autocratic attitude of hostility, superiority and rejection” — allegations Paul dismissed at the time as “racist” and “sexist.”

Paul refused to say this week why the threats to her leadership were put on hold, and she appealed for support from members and officials in her own party ahead of a federal election that is widely expected soon.