You have to feel something for the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul. Last week’s English-language federal leaders debate was her biggest and best opportunity to introduce herself to the millions of Canadians who didn’t know her yet, and she probably performed better than the other four participants.
But that performance was buried under the mountain of criticism over the format and moderation of the debate, and only 14 percent of Canadians Really stuck to the end.
For Paul, this first impression may also have been his last chance to save his Green Party leadership. His tenure has been marked by infighting and conflict over everything from his choice to run at the Toronto Center in an October 2020 election (where he came second) to his decision to endorse an adviser who criticized their own MPs for discrimination and anti-Semitism earlier this year.
During a recent interview, Paul even He says He considered resigning multiple times after Green MP Jenica Atwin spoke to Liberals in June. “There were times when I thought about leaving office,” he told the CBCRosemary Barton.
Those internal disagreements that have defined his time as party leader have now come to light during this election campaign, and include some of the highest-profile supporters of the national Green movement. Andrew Weaver, the former BC Green Party leader, spoke early in the campaign with his enthusiastic support for the liberal climate plan, snubbing the Greens. And on the trip from West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, a group of high-profile environmentalists, including David Suzuki, formed a group called “Greens4Avi” to support NDP candidate Avi Lewis.
Paul probably didn’t help herself here with the decision to race for the third time at the Toronto Center, a longtime liberal stronghold, rather than somewhere safer. And where the party once put forward a full list of candidates and planned To do it again in 2021, it fell short by nearly 100, the lowest total it has come up with since 2000.
Now, as the Greens fight for their survival, Some of the party’s candidates don’t even want their leader to visit them. It seems increasingly likely that its first elected MP, Elizabeth May, could also be the last green MP standing, and that the three seats they won in 2019 could be the party’s highest electoral mark.
But while the Greens face a major setback in this election, the cause for which it was founded in 1983 could still emerge as the biggest winner of all. Depending on who you ask, climate change is either a defining issue or the defining the issue in this election, and the three main parties have platforms that really take it seriously. And while the Green Party has received some poor marks from economists and academics for its climate plan, the very fact that other parties are competing and defeating them in this space is a victory in itself.
So is the fact that the Liberal Party of Canada seems more determined to win this competition. Borrowing ideas and policies from progressive parties is a key part of their brand, and a big reason for their continued electoral success, and liberals have done so in everything from healthcare in the 1960s to interpersonal marriage. same-sex in the 2000s. And while you can ask the federal NDP how it feels to be outdone on an issue it spent years pushing, the reality is that environmentalism and climate change have moved from the margins to the center of the world. scenario in our politics.
Paul is almost certain to be defeated on September 20, and probably all but one of his party’s candidates will join him. But in a way, the 2021 election will be the Green Party of Canada’s biggest victory yet. As its members consider the prospect of another leadership race, you may want to wonder if Canada still needs a Green Party. After all, in many important respects, the battle for which it was created has already been won.