OTTAWA—Can Annamie Paul be the leader of the Green Party of Canada if she isn’t a party member?
In the wake of the revelation, first reported by the Star, that the status of Paul’s membership was discussed this week at a closed-door meeting of top Green officials, party insiders are left asking that very question.
“Honestly, I’m trying to wrap my brain around this now … It’s not clear to me,” said Carole Chan, a Green member who is running for party president in the ongoing elections to replace most members of the Green’s top governing body, the federal council.
Green spokesperson Rosie Emery declined to comment Wednesday morning on the question of Paul’s leadership status, stating she “does not have further information.”
The confusion stems from the party’s rules, and the fact that such a situation has never arisen before.
Paul has not responded to requests for comment about the situation since late Tuesday night, when the party’s outgoing federal council met to discuss the status of her membership.
One party source with knowledge of the situation told the Star the meeting was called to discuss an unspecified legal proceeding and that party interim executive director Dana Taylor said during the meeting that he would launch a review of Paul’s membership.
Taylor has not responded to requests for comment since Tuesday night.
According to the party’s code of conduct, the executive director “will automatically initiate” a membership review if a Green member starts legal proceedings against the party. The code says the member is suspended during the review and can’t “represent the party in any capacity” until the status of their membership is decided.
But one senior party source, who spoke about internal affairs on condition they aren’t named, said Paul’s team believes party rules do not allow for the Green leader to be deposed through a membership suspension.
That’s because the party constitution outlines the process for removing a Green leader: three quarters of federal council members must vote to oust the leader, and then a majority of members must agree at a general meeting.
Revoking membership, on the other hand, requires only a simple majority vote on federal council.
Prateek Awasthi, a former Green party executive director, told the Star that he believes a leader can’t be deposed through a membership review, since the constitution provides a distinct process to do so.
Others see the situation differently.
Paul Estrin, a former party president who has publicly defended Paul during the drawn-out infighting that has threatened her leadership, said his read of the constitution is that Paul can’t be leader if her membership is suspended because it is under review.
“The constitution indicates that the leader needs to be a member,” he told the Star on Thursday.
“Until the review is over, the Green party does not have a leader.”
Darcie Lanthier, a former council member who is running for the vacant Prince Edward Island seat on the council in the current party elections, was shocked to learn the leader’s membership is in question.
She said it is “anti-Green” for party executives to operate against their own leader, who was elected by Green members nine months ago.
“The things that are happening are so far outside — I don’t even know if there are rules,” Lanthier said.