First Black Canadian woman to lead national party faces tough by-election fight

Published On October 14, 2020 | By Beatriz Baleeiro | News, Politics
Recently-elected Federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is the first Black woman to lead a national political party in Canada. (Annamie Paul/Facebook)
Beatriz Baleeiro

Annamie Paul, born in Canada to Caribbean immigrant parents, was elected as the newest leader of the Green Party after eight rounds of voting.

She replaces Elizabeth May, who led the party for 14 years.

But she face a tough fight is for a seat. She is running for what could be the Green Party’s fourth federal seat in the Liberal stronghold of Toronto Centre against Marci Ien, a former CTV personality, who is running for the Grits, in a Oct. 26 by-election.

The seat was left vacant by former finance minister Bill Morneau who left to work at the OECD.

“We as Greens, once again, are leading the way. We have done something that has never been done before in Canadian politics, and I congratulate us,” said Paul at an Ottawa art gallery after her Oct. 3 win.

Paul, the Toronto-based lawyer, said she was astonished by how long it took for a Black-Jewish woman to lead a major party.

Velma Morgan, chair and spokesperson for the organization Operation Black Voters of Canada (OBVC), one of the organizations Paul has volunteered with in the past, said Paul’s win represents the excellence that is in the Black community.

“[Paul] is a determined Black woman that is ready to shake up the political establishment and fight for all Canadians,” Morgan said. “She is an effective communicator, bilingual, genuine and with all the systemic racism that we have seen in Canada and the U.S. over this year, she is the light in what has been a very dark year.”

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Ontario Green Party, told Humber News he’s proud to welcome a voice that brings representativity and diversity into Canadian politics.

“I think it’s important to have diverse voices, and particularly a black woman’s voice and perspective,” he said. “I think this will be important not only in terms of what’s being debated in the House of Commons but also, what’s debated in the next federal leaders’ debate.”

Morgan said Black Canadians need representation at all three levels of government at every decision-making table, including elected officials, political staffers bureaucrats, and public appointments.

“Having diverse voices and lived experiences involved in decision making and policy creation makes for better public policy and outcomes for all,” she said.

Paul said politicians are intellectually exhausted and are out of ideas.

“We’re seeing the price of recklessness in floods, wildfires, and the boom-and-bust cycles in resource-extraction industries and current politicians don’t know what to do,” Paul said in her speech.

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