Offended Black woman. Power-hungry. Putting on a performance. That is how Annamie Paul’s staff say she was described by members of the Green Party.
In the times leading as much as the 2021 election campaign, Paul, the primary Black and Jewish woman to ever lead a federal party, assured Canadians heading to the polls that she was in charge of her party. But on the within, crying, stress and micro-aggressions were more the norm, say Paul’s team members.
Paul resigned on Sept. 27, just ten months into her tenure. Now, members of her staff are painting a bleak picture of what it was like for the newly minted Green leader, saying she was set as much as fail and received no support from her predecessor, Elizabeth May.
“They blatantly didn’t need to support a lady of color within the party. There’s absolutely no way around it,” said Victoria Galea, executive assistant to Paul since February of last 12 months.
Paul finished in fourth place in her Toronto Centre riding behind Liberal incumbent Marci len during this 12 months’s election, amid months of in-fighting and an internal party push to launch a non-confidence vote against her. The in-fighting was made public in June, when former Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the ground to affix the Liberal Party, citing differing views between her and other members of the party on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
During her resignation speech, Paul said she did the most effective she could with little resources and funding allocated to her and an understaffed team, but ultimately, her party was “likely not going to do well.”
“Once I was elected and put on this role, I used to be breaking a glass ceiling. What I didn’t realize on the time is that I used to be breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head and leave loads of shards of glass that I used to be going to need to crawl over throughout my time as a pacesetter,” she said.
Corey Shefman, Paul’s campaign manager in Toronto Centre, tweeted “as someone on the within, let me be clear that there isn’t a single grain of exaggeration in Annamie’s description of what she was put through by the Green Party.”
The party’s leadership — its president, members of the present federal council and its executive directors — have either refused to reply or denied all requests for comment in regards to the allegations made by Paul and her supporters. The Green Party has also declined multiple requests from Global News asking in regards to the use of Green Party funds to fight Paul, or about racism and discrimination allegations.
But an internal ombudsman report released July 18 that was leaked to the general public said racism and sexism allegations were rife inside the party, promoted by high-ranking members who contributed to a “toxic dynamic.”
“Systemic racism on the governance level of the party must be addressed, but has not been,” the report reads.
“Transphobic and racially prejudicial statements are often shared, and a culture which tolerates them is endemic inside the Party.”
The report was prepared in response to a grievance filed after the Toronto Star reported the Greens were “sabotaging the primary Black woman to guide a Canadian political party” in April. The report takes aim on the party’s internal culture, but additionally names several Greens in senior leadership positions it says perpetuated racism and discrimination from contained in the party.
The report claims the Green’s interim Executive Director, Dana Taylor, had instructed members to say that systemic racism doesn’t exist inside the party. It also found Taylor over-stepped his mandate on several occasions, muting Paul’s mic during a staff meeting and ignoring concerns raised by staff members — particularly those from “equity-seeking communities.”
The report also accused Taylor of a failure “to promptly defend staff who faced abuse from members, or to implement procedures to cope with online abuse of staff, despite repeated requests.”
Taylor didn’t reply to multiple requests for comment from Global News.
4 members of Paul’s team who spoke to Global News confirmed the allegations. Galea said the Green Party often “played on loads of ‘offended Black woman’ tropes” when referring to Paul, which she said was made evident within the non-confidence allegation against the party leader.
A duplicate of the allegation, obtained by Global News, accused her of getting an “autocratic attitude of hostility, superiority and rejection, failing to assume her duty to be an energetic, contributing, respectful, attentive member of Federal Council, failing to develop a collaborative working relationship, failing to have interaction in respectful discussions, and failing to make use of dialogue and compromise.”
“She has attended few council meetings, and when in attendance, has displayed anger in long, repetitive, aggressive monologues,” the document reads.
The non-confidence vote was suddenly called off by party executives on July 18, with no explanation given.
Elizabeth May told Global News she would support a “full and independent investigation” into the allegations raised by Paul.
“As a celebration, in fact, we’re a part of Canadian society, and it might be idealistic and unrealistic to assume that any institution in Canadian society is resistant to the systemic racism we see inside Canadian society,” she said.
Asked why it took so long for May to reply to racism and discrimination claims inside the party, May said she was given instruction from Paul’s office to not talk over with national media outlets.
“I’m doing something that I’ve been asked to not do, which is talk over with any reporters and specifically, I’d say, even when I used to be allowed to do an interview within the last 12 months, it was specifically mandated that I not discuss internal Green Party matters,” she said.
Based on May, Paul had overstepped her mandate, “obtaining much more resources, much more authority, more power than I’d even ever asked for or imagined.”
“I believe it’s her honest impression was that one way or the other she was denied things she must have had. And it surprises me to today because I actually made it clear to her and to each other leadership candidate: it’s good to know you don’t have power to be running and saying, I’m going to take the party in X direction,” May said.
“The leader essentially is the chief spokesperson and nothing else. Annamie managed to — and I hope this precedent that she set won’t be repeated — take control and power over way more. The empirical results of that was the poorest election result we’ve ever had.”
But Maia Knight, a campaign operations and strategy manager for Paul, disagreed with the notion that Paul had an excessive amount of authority.
Knight, who was also a federal election candidate in Ajax for the Greens in 2019, said Paul faced opposition at “every turn,” from the appointment of Taylor against her wishes as an alternative of choosing someone from a marginalized community, to the party’s Federal Council blocking funding to her campaign.
“Each time we felt like we were getting back on our feet, the party did something else, something recent, found a recent solution to cut her down. That might take a toll on anyone,” she said.
She said Paul was consistently asked about her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict due to her faith and saw examples of anti-Black racism that took a visual toll on Paul. Knight said working for Paul was “heartbreaking.”
“She’s never been accepted for who she is. That’s really unlucky and it’s a real loss to the party,” Knight said of Paul.
After Paul’s resignation, members of her party blamed her directly for the Green’s shoddy performance on this 12 months’s election. But Elizabeth May told Global News she isn’t blaming Paul for the Greens’ election results.
“Any individual somewhere inside the party made sure we didn’t have candidates in every riding,” May said, noting that “good candidates were denied the suitable to run” even when the writ was dropped.
“We had people wanting to run in every riding. We had individuals who were qualified, strong candidates who were denied running.”
She noted that the Greens’ structure gives the federal council the authority to decide on candidates — not the party’s leader. This 12 months, May said the party was short 86 candidates, almost a 3rd of its slate — something she said has “never” happened before.
“I don’t rule out actual sabotage, but I don’t need to sound paranoid,” she said. “You’d need to be remarkably gullible to not a minimum of entertain the thought.”
There was also something else working against the party during this 12 months’s election: its funds.
“It’s generally accepted that the funds of the party were deteriorating,” Douglas Tingey, who was president of the Green Party of Canada Fund during Paul’s tenure, told Global News.
Two months after Paul was named leader, contributions to the party soared to greater than $1.4 million, data from Elections Canada shows. But by the subsequent quarter, Elections Canada reported contributions had dipped by $757,606.98, reaching a low of $588,841.09 by March of this 12 months.
The party laid off greater than a dozen staff members over the summer in what they said were attempts to chop costs. Despite objections from Paul, all of her staff were laid off including Galea and Jessica Hamilton, Paul’s liaison in Toronto. Zahra Mitra, the party’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion director, was also dismissed.
But Tingey said the Greens’ financial woes began sooner than that.
By January of this 12 months, Tingey said the party was already losing money.
Based on the Canadian Press, spending exceeded revenues because the fund’s board of directors was elected in February, while costs outpaced gross income by $105,000 in May and $103,000 in June.
Tingey said the Greens’ financial situation was not sustainable with 70 per cent of all revenue spent on staffing, while party executives opted to withhold $250,000 in funding earmarked for Paul’s riding campaign in Toronto Centre.
Meanwhile, party executives said during a Federal Council meeting in July that the Greens spent about $100,000 on legal fees that month, with one other $100,000 earmarked for legal expenditures in August, two party sources not authorized to talk publicly on the matter told the Canadian Press.
The Green Party didn’t reply to multiple requests asking how much money was utilized in legal battles against Paul, but based on Tingey, unexpected lawsuits commenced by Paul against the party had heightened the party’s financial woes despite significant fundraising under her leadership.
Tingey told Global News that a “very detailed assessment” of who can be laid off was based on a mix of “seniority and necessity.”
“There was every expectation that everybody can be called back the moment the writ dropped or in the intervening time there was a guarantee of the election happening, because we’d then have access to election financing that may help cover the prices of staff,” he said. “To my understanding, virtually everyone that was laid off but two got here back.”
When staff returned to their positions, Galea said that morale on Paul’s team was at an all-time low, with staff reportedly crying during meetings. She also noted the party’s funds.
While Green Party leaders and top candidates from the previous election are “traditionally” provided between $20,000 and $30,000 per thirty days to assist with their campaigns, Galea said Paul received “zero” dollars. Galea also claimed Paul was given zero dollars when the write was dropped.
Galea noted that around $100,000 was typically spent on those ridings, which Paul “didn’t receive a penny of.”
“They said it was a financial issue and so they were concerned in regards to the party going bankrupt. But it surely just isn’t a fundraising issue. Madame Paul out-fundraised every quarter,” said Galea.
“There was not a money inflow issue. It was the cash mismanagement issue, which is finished by the fund and the interim executive director.”
Kayne Alleyne-Adams, who was a debate prep coordinator for Paul, added that many staff who returned after the layoffs weren’t given the tools or funding they needed to assist run Paul’s campaign.
Alleyne-Adams told Global News that he was informed shortly before the primary federal leadership debate that there was no room within the party’s budget to pay him or cover his hotel expenses.
Watching the infighting “actually made it difficult to be a member of this party,” said Alleyne-Adams.
“It made it difficult to ask people to vote Green this past election.”
Alleyne-Adams, who was also youth co-chair of the Ontario Green Party and shadow cabinet youth co-critic for the Greens, publicly resigned on Oct. 13, citing “sexual harassment, racist language and queerphobic insults” as the rationale for his departure in a series of tweets.
Global News has reached out to the Green Party for comment on Alleyne-Adams’ allegations, but didn’t immediately hear back.
The layoffs have continued post-election. Mirroring layoffs remodeled the summer, the Green Party laid off half of its staff on Oct. 19, affecting Paul’s office in addition to in those working in communications and mobilization departments.
Jessica Hamilton, who worked as a liaison for Paul’s office in Toronto Centre, said Paul’s failure among the many Greens symbolized the party’s inability to grow and improve.
“It’s not nearly Annamie, it’s about all the things that she represents,” she said.
“The entire reason that we got into all of that is to make Canada stronger and more equitable. To be faced with a lot adversity and a lot push-back from the moment you get on this team, after which to have it come to a head in an election or right before an election is just devastating, since the things that you simply’ve been working for and dealing towards are only slipping through your fingers.”
—With files from Global News’ Ahmar Khan and the Canadian Press