Greens Choose Toronto’s Annamie Paul as New Leader

October 4, 2020 Updated: October 4, 2020

OTTAWA—Green Party of Canada members have chosen Toronto’s Annamie Paul as their new leader.

Paul won a bare majority of votes in the eighth round, defeating Dimitri Lascaris.

Paul is a non-practising lawyer who has spent much of her career in international institutions, including at the International Criminal Court and in Canada’s mission to the European Union.

Nearly 35,000 people were eligible to vote, almost 10 times the turnout in the last leadership election in 2006, and nearly 24,000 ballots were cast, according to the party.

The Greens used a ranked-ballot voting system, which quickly redistributed members’ second-choice votes if their first-choice candidate came last and was cut.

Paul took 12,090 votes on the last ballot, just more than the 11,939 needed to win.

Paul led on the first few ballots, slipped behind Lascaris for two, and then regained a lead she never gave up on the sixth.

Yellowknife doctor Courtney Howard came a distant third and former Ontario cabinet minister Glen Murray finished fourth.

The race suffered several hiccups, including the disqualification of one candidate, the disqualification and then reinstatement of a second, and a bookkeeping error that the party says kept thousands of dollars in donations out Murray’s coffers.

Paul succeeds Elizabeth May, who stepped down last fall after leading the party for 13 years.

May’s electoral success has masked divisions in the party, whose members’ environmentalism ranges from business-minded support for market mechanisms to cut pollution to ecosocialism that rejects capitalism as inherently destructive to the environment.

May will remain a force in the party, as she is still one of its three MPs and as of now, intends to remain as parliamentary leader in the House of Commons.

Before the race concluded, she emphasized that given the latitude the Greens afford their MPs, the new leader wouldn’t be her boss.

May gave something of a farewell speech as leader before the results were announced, though she officially turned over the top job to interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts after the last election.

Roberts thanked May for all she’s done. The two gave each other socially distanced hugs, their arms encircling air as they stood well apart.

The losing candidates for the federal leadership have all expressed interest in seeking House of Commons seats all the same.

Paul is the first to do that, after being acclaimed the Green candidate for the Toronto Centre byelection being held Oct. 26.