OTTAWA — Embattled Green party Leader Annamie Paul was the focus of a closed-door meeting late Tuesday night where top officials discussed the status of her party membership, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
One of the sources, who did not attend the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the party launched a review of Paul’s membership during the meeting and that the leader herself was not invited to attend. The source said interim executive director Dana Taylor initiated the review, which did not require a vote.
It is unclear how a membership review would affect the status of Paul’s leadership, but the move marks a stunning escalation of party infighting that has rocked the Greens for months.
The party’s code of conduct says individuals are suspended while their memberships are under review, and that during that time they cannot “represent the party in any capacity.”
Neither Paul, Taylor nor any of the 12 other federal council members have responded to the Star’s requests for comment, which were first sent Tuesday night.
Green party spokesperson Rosie Emery confirmed a federal council meeting took place Tuesday but declined to comment further on Wednesday.
The situation comes amid ongoing elections to replace most of the party’s sitting council members over the next month, and as the outgoing council prepares to hold a vote of non-confidence in Paul’s leadership at a session set for July 20.
The party’s constitution says that if 75 per cent of the federal council members approve a non-confidence motion, that triggers a subsequent vote to decide whether to remove the leader at a general members’ meeting.
But the code of conduct also says any Green member can be expelled from the party by a simple majority vote of the federal council after their membership is reviewed. Members are given 30 days to prepare a defence before the council decides on their membership, the code says.
The rules say members can be kicked out for breaching the Greens’ code of conduct or constitution, acting in a way that contradicts Green “principles and purpose,” or for discrediting or “intentionally” damaging the interests of the party.
For months, the Green party has been roiled by infighting that Paul has blamed on members of federal council who oppose her agenda to make the party more diverse. Others, including Paul’s former campaign manager Sean Yo, have described “significant resistance” to Paul’s leadership since she took over last October.
In June, after New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin defected from the Greens to join the governing Liberal party, the federal council moved to trigger a process of non-confidence in Paul’s leadership. In a letter obtained by the Star, interim council president Liana Canton Cusmano announced the special meeting on July 20 to hold the non-confidence vote. Cusmano accused Paul of failing to “openly condemn” statements by one of her advisers, Noah Zatzman, and “support members of the (Green) caucus” with regard to his remarks.
In May, Zatzman accused unnamed MPs of anti-Semitism and pledged to defeat them — a statement which Atwin told La Presse in June was part of the reason she left the Greens.
The council is also weighing whether to revoke $250,000 earmarked for Paul’s riding association in Toronto Centre ahead of the next federal election.
Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga