Green Party policies would have made ‘all the difference’ in pandemic, new leader says

The Green Party has only three seats in the House of Commons, but newly elected Leader Annamie Paul says she wants to connect with voters to build on that support.

“We have been heading in the right direction for a very long time and it’s just time to make that link with people in Canada in terms of who they’re choosing to vote for,” she said in an interview with Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson on The West Block.

“We are the party that has been talking about the policies that had they been in place when the pandemic hit, would have made all the difference in the world,” she said, referencing universal pharmacare, long-term care reform and a guaranteed livable income.

Click to play video 'New Green Party leader Annamie Paul details her two main priorities' New Green Party leader Annamie Paul details her two main priorities

New Green Party leader Annamie Paul details her two main priorities

Paul, an activist and lawyer who once served as an adviser to the International Criminal Court, won the party’s leadership vote on Saturday in the eighth round of voting.

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Her next challenge will be to win a seat in the House of Commons. Paul said she was “running to win” in Toronto Centre — former finance minister Bill Morneau’s riding, which has been a Liberal district since 1993.

“We’re not where we were before. We’re not where we were six months ago. We’re in the midst of a pandemic that has hit Toronto Centre particularly hard. And people there, I believe, will be looking for the representation that is actually going to bring the urgent help that they need,” she said.

Read more: On eve of leadership choice, Canada’s Greens confront anti-Semitism in their ranks

Paul ran in Toronto Centre in 2019, picking up 3,726 votes. Morneau won the riding with 30,580 votes.

In the past, she said Liberals would bring in their “star candidate” to the riding to attract voters. Paul said she hoped her elevated status as Green Party leader would serve as an advantage during the byelection on Oct. 26.

Paul is the first Black and Jewish woman to lead a major federal party in Canada, succeeding former leader Elizabeth May. During the weeks leading up to the Oct. 3 leadership vote, Paul said she was subject to relentless attacks and anti-Semitic and anti-Black hate online, made worse by added vitriol from members of her own party.

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Click to play video 'Green Party elects Annamie Paul as leader' Green Party elects Annamie Paul as leader

Green Party elects Annamie Paul as leader

“There’s still definitely some work to do. There’s no question that the race was an eye-opener. I can’t attribute all of the comments at all to our membership,” she said when asked about whether she was concerned about anti-Semitism within the party.

The new Green Party leader said every political party has work to do to ensure its members are inclusive and adhere to their values.

Read more: Green Party frontrunner Annamie Paul wins leadership on 8th ballot

“There is no place in the Green Party of Canada for anti-Semitism and there never will be. And I would say that I hope that all of the political parties feel that way,” said Paul.

“I will also encourage every single person in Canada, whether there is anti-Semitism or anti-Black racism or anti-Indigenous racism — when they see it, speak out, because silence emboldens the hate and that’s what we need to make sure we stamp out.”

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Paul urged Canadians to support candidates with diverse backgrounds and encouraged people from underrepresented groups to consider a life in politics.

Click to play video 'Federal Green Party elects new leader to replace Elizabeth May' Federal Green Party elects new leader to replace Elizabeth May

Federal Green Party elects new leader to replace Elizabeth May

“There’s no question that electing someone like me, the Greens choosing someone like me, already that’s a very powerful symbol for people who have not seen themselves reflected. And I’m very proud of that,” she said.

“We know that the best ideas can come from everywhere and anywhere. If we’re cutting ourselves off from that diversity, then we’re just losing out in terms of the kind of policy that we’re developing.”

Paul will be running against Liberal candidate Marci Ien, co-host of CTV’s The Social, who is currently on leave during the campaign, the NDP’s Brian Chang, and Conservative Ryan Lester.

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