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Annamie Paul
Photo: Green Party of Canada.

Paul becomes first Black Canadian and Jewish woman to lead major federal party

University of Ottawa law alumna Annamie Paul won the Green Party leadership race tonight in the eighth round of voting. Paul is the first Black Canadian and Jewish woman to be elected as the permanent leader of one of the five major federal political parties. 

“I think sometimes the leader is chosen by the moment, more than the other way around,” said Paul to the Fulcrum. “I think a lot of the things we care about and were thinking about these days whether its the climate emergency, creating a more just society and systematic racism in Canada are experiences that I’ve lived, but also things I’ve spent a lot of time studying researching, advocating about and I feel like this a moment where my skills can be of a lot of use.”

Fulcrum editor-in-chief Charley Dutil interviewing new Green leader Annamie Paul on Zoom this summer. Photo: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

The new leader of the party ran her leadership campaign on promises to fight for free post-secondary education, the forgiveness of federal student loan debts, free dental care as well as universal income and pharmacare. 

When asked on how she planned to pay for these services if the Green’s were to form government, Paul said the Green Party has a “fully costed platform which got a passing grade by the U of O’s institute run by the former parliamentary budget officer.”

Paul explained that she wouldn’t increase taxes on lower and middle-income Canadians but would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, create a tax on big tech companies, and slightly raise our corporate tax rate that she says is one of the lowest in the developed world. 

Paul also aims to “diversify” the Green Party. The party had the lease diverse slate of candidates in the 2019 federal election. She says that by electing her “the party sends a very strong signal that the Green Party is aware of the work it needs to do and that it is committed to it selecting a leader who has a real track record of changing the dynamics in our country in relation to that.”  

“I think what people want to see now is action replacing all of the words and so electing someone like me is real action and the party is putting in place someone who can take real action.”

Although elected as the leader of the Green’s, Paul isn’t done campaigning for 2020. She is running in the Toronto Centre by-election which will take place on Oct.26, this represents her first real challenge as leader of the Green Party. 

Winning the seat left empty by former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau would give her the chance to enter the House of Commons before the next general election. This would give her the opportunity to lead the three sitting Green Members in Parliament. 

In 2019, Paul finished fourth in the ridding receiving a little over seven per cent of the votes. Here’s what she said she learned in her first time running to be the MP of Toronto Centre  

“I really learned how important it is to be in the community when you’re running, you really learn the most by having those conversations with people on their day-to-day experiences.”

“It’s very easy for members of parliament to forget that their first responsibility is to their constituents and our party structure is set up in a way where it’s not always easy to maintain that connection.”

“I learned how important it is to keep that connection alive and to really respect and listen to the people that elected you in the first place. Should I be one day so lucky to get elected it is important to keep that connection.”