Green party cuts two staffers from leader Annamie Paul’s office amid layoffs


OTTAWA—The Green Party of Canada slashed two staffers from embattled leader Annamie Paul’s office as it carried out planned layoffs on Wednesday, the Star has learned.

The party’s diversity co-ordinator, Zahra Mitra, was also laid off, according to three sources with knowledge of party affairs who spoke on condition they aren’t named.

In April, Mitra condemned unnamed Green officials in an open letter, accusing party brass of causing “irreparable harm” by denying there is racism in the Green organization after the Star revealed infighting that has undermined Paul — who is Black and has accused officials of racism herself — in her first months as leader.

Mitra could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The terminations are slated to take hold Friday, according to a letter obtained by the Star that informed employees of their “temporary” layoffs.

“It is our hope that we will be able to recall you shortly,” says the letter, signed by the party’s interim executive director, Dana Taylor.

As the party cuts staff ahead of a widely expected federal election, the Star has also learned the Greens are planning not to hire a national campaign chair — a standard leadership position for any major party in a federal election.

“Regrettably, we have come to the conclusion that it is not feasible to place a person in the position of NCC at this time,” reads an email obtained by the Star, which Taylor sent to a party staffer.

In the email, Taylor says the party’s “financial circumstances” have taken “a significant turn for the worse,” and says he will instead collaborate with other managers to take on the role of chair “for the foreseeable future.”

According to data provided by Elections Canada, the party brought in just over $100,000 more in fundraising in the first quarter of 2021, when Paul was leader, than it did during the same period last year.

Taylor and party spokespeople did not respond to questions from the Star about the layoffs Wednesday, including how many employees were laid off and how they were selected. They also did not answer questions about the plan not to hire a national campaign manager.

Paul’s office said she declined to comment Wednesday.

Taylor previously signalled the layoffs were imminent in an email to staff sent last week that said 15 employees would get cut. Employees were asked if they would accept “voluntary layoffs,” and were told they could be asked back at a later date if the party’s “situation improves.”

The plan to let employees go as the prospect of an election looms prompted a testy exchange over Zoom this week, when Taylor asked his assistant to mute Paul’s microphone as she tried to ask for more details about the layoffs, the Star reported Tuesday.

Sean Yo, who managed Paul’s campaign in a federal byelection last year, criticized Taylor for slashing Mitra’s position.

“With this, we see that Taylor sees (equity, diversity and inclusion) as a luxury and not a necessity. Even more troubling is that this has every appearance of being a retaliatory action on Taylor’s part, and part of the clear and sustained pattern of his office being resistant to efforts to invest meaningfully in diversity at the Green Party,” Yo wrote in a statement to the Star.

“This appears to have little or nothing to do with the business of running the party and instead appears to be about targeting those staff members Taylor sees as enemies.”

Yo also expressed concern over Taylor’s involvement with the national campaign chair role, saying the move to forgo filling the role leaves the party “without an experienced campaign leader.”

In recent months, tensions within the party have become public, after Yo and several other party sources told the Star that Paul has consistently faced resistance from a coterie of top officials on the party’s top governing body, the federal council.

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That council is now threatening Paul’s leadership with a vote scheduled for July 20 to decide whether to trigger the process to depose her. According to a letter viewed by the Star, the interim president of the council accused Paul of failing to “collaborate with and support members of the (Green) caucus.” The letter also accused Paul of failing to condemn comments of a former top aide, Noah Zatzman.

Zatzman had accused unnamed Green MPs and other politicians of stoking anti-Semitism after a then-Green MP, Jenica Atwin, publicly criticized Paul’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by posting on Twitter: “I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End Apartheid.”

She later defected to the Liberals.

RP

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel





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