Green Party execs consider pulling $250K from leader’s election campaign funding – WellandTribune.ca

Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on June 1, 2021.

By Alex BallingallOttawa Bureau

Tue., July 13, 20213 min. read

OTTAWA — The Green party’s top governing body is considering a proposal to withdraw $250,000 in funding from embattled Leader Annamie Paul’s campaign to win a seat in Toronto Centre, a Liberal stronghold where she has already lost two elections.

According to three sources with knowledge of party affairs, the motion to revoke the funding was placed on the Green party’s federal council agenda on June 29, but the governing body has not yet voted on it.

The proposal comes as Paul faces a threat to her leadership from the council, which will vote on whether to trigger the process to depose her at a special meeting on July 20. If successful, Green members will vote on whether to keep Paul as leader at their next general meeting in August.

Neither Paul nor the party’s spokespeople responded to requests for comment sent Monday about the proposal to revoke funding. Interim executive director Dana Taylor and all voting members of the federal council also did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.

The Star has not seen the exact wording of the proposal, which was first reported by the Canadian Press. But one party source said it is expected to be raised at the next regular council meeting, and that it stems from a suggestion that former Green leader Jim Harris made by email in mid-June.

In that email, which was obtained by the Star and is addressed to top ranking officials in the party, Harris argues that federal council should remove Paul as leader, alleging her failure to maintain communication with Jenica Atwin helped push the Green MP from New Brunswick to defect to the Liberals.

Harris also suggests the council should vote to rescind $250,000 funding for the party’s electoral association in Toronto Centre, which he says was already approved by the council’s executive committee.

He also argues that Paul — who as leader sits as a member of the council — “should be allowed to say what she wants to say and then be required to leave the meeting” when the debate and subsequent vote on her campaign funding takes place.

Harris declined to comment on “internal Green party issues” when the Star contacted him this week, but stressed that he is not a member of the party’s federal council himself.

“If council decides to take anything on, that’s been suggested to them, that is council’s decision to do so,” Harris said Monday. “I have no motion at federal council.”

Party operatives close to Paul have said her campaign in Toronto Centre already felt a lack of support from Green headquarters when she ran there in a federal byelection after she won the leadership last October.

Sean Yo, Paul’s campaign manager, told the Star in April that the party sent a single junior staffer to help out, and also asked the campaign to refund $50,000 in funding in the middle of the contest — a request that Yo said caused a significant distraction before it was dropped 24 hours later. This was an early example of what Yo called “significant resistance” to Paul’s decisions from top officials within the party.

Paul placed second to the Liberals’ Marci Ien in the byelection, with almost 33 per cent of the vote. She also ran there in 2019, when she placed fourth with seven per cent of the vote.

Green MP Elizabeth May, who was the party leader from 2006 to 2019, told the Star in April that the party similarly did not spend “a dime” when she first ran for a seat in London, Ont.

But one source with direct knowledge of party operations at the time said there was significant spending on May’s effort to win a seat before the 2011 election, when she finally won the Greens’ first-ever seat in the British Columbia riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands.

The source said the party made May’s election a “top priority” and spent between $20,000 and $30,000 a month for more than a year and a half before the 2011 election to ensure that she won her seat.

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Revoking funding for May’s election effort would have been “unthinkable” in the party at the time, the source added.

May was not available for an interview on Monday, her office said.