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Vote on Annamie Paul’s leadership of Green Party cancelled, sources say

An imminent threat to Annamie Paul’s leadership of the Green Party of Canada has been eliminated, after a vote of non-confidence originally scheduled for this week was cancelled, CBC News has learned.

The Green Party’s governing body, called the federal council, was set to vote on the question Tuesday. But multiple party sources told CBC News on Sunday that it will not go forward.

The sources spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The decision to forgo the leadership vote on Tuesday was made after an internal arbitration process, according to several sources.

A potential review of Paul’s membership in the Green Party, discussed by the council last week, will also not be initiated, according to the sources.

A spokesperson for the Greens said Paul would hold a news conference and make an announcement on Monday.

The vote scheduled for Tuesday was initially prompted by a call from the federal council for Paul to repudiate comments made by her former adviser that were critical of Green MPs’ stances on Israel and to show support for her MPs. The council urged Paul to comply with its directive or face a non-confidence vote.

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Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul was facing a vote of non-confidence from her party’s governing body. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As conflict in the Middle East intensified in May, Green Party MPs pushed back against a statement released by Paul that called for de-escalation and a return to dialogue.

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, who subsequently left the Green Party for the Liberals in June, called the statement “totally inadequate.” Her departure, in which she said the dispute over Israel played a role, left the Greens with just two MPs.

Paul’s political adviser at the time, Noah Zatzman, said in a May 14 Facebook post that he had experienced antisemitism and discrimination in the party and criticized politicians he said were displaying antisemitism, including Green MPs. He wrote that the Greens would work to “bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!”

Following his post, calls grew for Paul to denounce and remove Zatzman. Members of the party’s federal council initially discussed removing her but instead called on the leader to repudiate Zatzman’s statements and publicly support Green MPs.

Paul, who does not currently hold a seat in the House of Commons, has said she does not consider any Green MPs to be antisemites and voiced her support for them. She also previously said that she did not believe Atwin’s decision to cross the floor was because of disagreements over Israel, calling it “manufactured.”

Following her exit from the Greens, Atwin changed her position on Israel, apologizing for her previous comments and shifting to a stance more in line with the Liberals.

Paul has also said the push by some members of the party brass to oust her was driven by racism and sexism. In June, she wrote in a Facebook post: “Often, when people like me are elected or appointed to positions of senior leadership, the rules of the game seem to change: suddenly there needs to be more oversight, more accountability, and swifter and more severe sanctions.”

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Paul speaks to reporters about news that New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin had left the Green Party to join the Liberals, in Ottawa on June 10. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Since the issue first came to national attention, Paul and the federal council have clashed on a number of other fronts. The executives recently fired Paul’s office staff, citing financial constraints, and she was at one point muted during a call on the issue. Executives were also considering withholding $250,000 promised for the leader’s campaign in Toronto Centre.

Last week, sources told CBC News that the federal council had also discussed a review of Paul’s very membership in the Greens, which will now not go ahead.

Sources also told CBC News last week that Paul has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a federal council member. The letter accused a council member of defamation, but no further action was taken. The nature of the alleged comments that prompted the letter are not clear.

If Tuesday’s vote had gone forward, 75 per cent of the federal council’s membership would have needed to vote no-confidence for it to succeed, at which point it would have been referred to general Green members next month.

The sources told CBC News that Paul was likely to win the vote on Tuesday if it took place.

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