Annamie Paul is doubling down on Toronto Centre.
The Green party leader announced her candidacy for the nomination there Thursday ahead of a possible federal election, setting her up for a rematch within the riding she didn’t win in a byelection lower than 4 months ago.
Paul got here in second to Liberal newcomer Marci Ien in October after former finance minister Bill Morneau resigned the seat, but she garnered a healthy one-third of the votes forged.
The choice ends speculation about whether Paul would run in other Green-friendly electoral districts in Ontario akin to Guelph or Toronto_Danforth but reopens questions on the challenges she faces in one among the strongest Grit bastions within the country _ it’s been red since 1993.
“There is no such thing as a query that there could have been some safer places to run,” she said at a virtual press conference in Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood. “I’m also just a little bit nervous about it.
“There is no such thing as a protected seat for the Greens, apart from those that we currently had,” she said.
Paul, who was born within the riding, hopes to make use of Toronto as a base to shore up support for other local candidates and make the most of ready access to Canada’s media hub.
“I feel that we are able to create a beachhead in Ontario,” she said, speaking right into a laptop camera outside a community centre, her husband and two children within the background.
The announcement is the most recent move by the Greens, who’ve three MPs in Parliament, in anticipation of a possible election campaign as parties vet candidates and rev up fundraising.
Paul, who beat out seven leadership contenders in early October, is attempting to carve a middle path amongst members who are available in all shades of green, from eco-socialists to fiscally conservative climate hawks.
On the broader political spectrum, Paul has steered the party toward more socially progressive ground that encroaches directly on NDP turf, calling for a guaranteed livable income, universal pharmacare and free post-secondary education.
She has also zeroed in on the crisis in seniors’ homes, where the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate.
Toronto Centre includes neighbourhoods with many residents working precarious jobs, including essential staff who’re exposed to greater risks of COVID-19 infection.
Paul reiterated her call for a national housing strategy, decriminalization of drug possession coupled with protected supply programs, and greater recognition of foreign education credentials.
“This community needs any individual to have the opportunity to say now we have lost too a lot of our members,” she told reporters.
“The present MP is a beautiful person. I haven’t any reason to doubt that in any respect. But the actual fact is that if you end up a member of a whipped party where you’re expected to toe the party line you simply don’t have the flexibility to say the things that have to be said in a community like this.”
The Greens’ more freewheeling approach grants individual members greater leeway, but in addition risks exposing internal fissures in a fractious party and cracking the perception of a united front.
Paul framed the pandemic as a possibility to bring latest voters into the leafy fold.
“This sort of disruption is, I feel, a gap for people to reconsider their priorities to take into consideration what form of representation they wish to see for his or her communities.”
Paul also stressed the “resilience and the resourcefulness and the pride” of a neighbourhood she deemed emblematic of parts of the country which are struggling under the load of a pandemic and economic disparity.
Toronto Centre encompasses wealthy neighbourhoods in addition to among the most disadvantaged in Canada, with a gentrified Cabbagetown butting up against shelters, payday lenders and Regent Park.
The Greens proceed to face the twin challenge of a pacesetter with no seat in Parliament and a celebration without official status within the House of Commons, which translates into a scarcity of airtime, funding and committee input.
The party says it plans to field a full slate of 338 candidates within the federal election, at any time when the writ may drop.