Former Green leader Elizabeth May slammed the Latest Democrats Monday for refusing to withdraw their candidate in a coming byelection, arguing doing so would allow the primary Black woman elected to steer a federal party in Canada to win a seat.

Annamie Paul became the brand new leader of the Green party Saturday after winning on the eighth ballot.

Uniting the party and pushing Green policies on the pandemic and climate change are high on her agenda, but her first order of business is the Toronto Centre byelection scheduled for Oct. 26.

Paul was acclaimed because the Green candidate there before the leadership race ended but May says now that Paul is the leader, the opposite parties should stand down.

May had particularly harsh words for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who won a 2019 byelection within the Burnaby South riding.

May said Singh was not a “shoo-in” to win that byelection. She said the Greens were very strong there on the time but still offered to not run a candidate against him, and that Singh told her that was “a really classy” thing to do.

“I’d like Jagmeet Singh to give it some thought,” she said Monday.

“I’d like Latest Democrats to achieve out to him and say, ‘How classy is it to attempt to block the entry to the House of Commons of the primary Black woman leader of a federal political party?’ Consider what Rosemary Brown would think.”

Brown was the primary Black woman elected to a provincial legislature when she became an MLA in British Columbia in 1972. She also was the primary Black woman to run for the leadership of a federal party, ending second to Ed Broadbent within the NDP’s race in 1975.

Anne McGrath, national director of the NDP, said in an announcement that Brian Chang, who’s the party’s candidate in Toronto Centre, was chosen by members democratically and that he is not going to withdraw.

“Every Canadian deserves to vote for the party they imagine in, and with Brian Chang, they’ll count on someone who will fight for them,” she said.

The NDP also identified that in 2019, the party didn’t ask for the Greens to avoid running a candidate against Singh.

Toronto Centre is a Liberal stronghold, with that party winning the seat in every election since 1993. It’s vacant after former finance minister Bill Morneau stepped down in August.

The Liberals have nominated Marci Ien, who took a leave of absence as co-host of CTV’s talk show The Social. Liberal party spokesman Braeden Caley confirmed Ien will remain on the ballot.

“We congratulate Ms. Paul on her election as Green party leader and want her well as her party’s candidate within the riding,” Caley said in an email.

“Marci Ien’s campaign in Toronto Centre is looking forward to a positive contrast of ideas with the entire other parties.”

The Conservatives have nominated candidates in each Toronto Centre and in York Centre in northwestern Toronto, where a byelection is going on the identical day.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is running for his party in York Centre.

Green party spokeswoman Rosie Emery said the Greens have a candidate nominated for York Centre who’s awaiting official confirmation by Elections Canada.

Paul says she just isn’t surprised not one of the other parties will stand down in Toronto Centre but that she is used to overcoming obstacles.

“I’m a primary, and as a primary you’re accustomed to fighting,” she said. “You’re accustomed to having to beat each barrier to get where you’re attempting to go to. If now we have to try this yet again in Toronto Centre then we’re prepared to accomplish that.”

Paul ran and finished fourth in Toronto Centre within the 2019 general election, with seven per cent of the vote. Morneau won with 57 per cent, followed by the NDP in second with 22 per cent.

Paul did nearly triple the Greens’ vote in that election versus the one before.

Paul, 47, says there may be one obvious thing she brings to Parliament Hill because the Green leader, using her hands to mime an image frame round her face. She said diversity within the party and on Parliament Hill are critical.

She said policies that harm people of color are usually not prone to be made when Black Canadians are on the table.

“What I bring is hope, hope to all of the those that haven’t seen themselves represented in politics thus far,” she said.


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