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Green members in P.E.I. mull May’s successor

Green leader Elizabeth May speaks in Charlottetown during a Green party rally on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. May said her party was the only one committed to limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, the limit set by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. Stu Neatby/THE GUARDIAN
Green leader Elizabeth May speaks in Charlottetown during a Green party rally in September 2019. May announced her resignation as leader last November. The federal party has been in the midst of a leadership race since February.

Voting began on Saturday to select Elizabeth May's successor as the leader of the federal Green party. 

But in P.E.I., where the Greens have arguably seen their greatest electoral successes, many members are still mulling over who will be their preferred choice for the party’s next flag-bearer. 

The federal party has been in the midst of a leadership race since February. The party’s national leadership convention was originally planned for Charlottetown this fall but was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. Much like the recent federal Conservative leadership race, the contest has been conducted almost entirely online. 

Party members will choose from eight candidates – Annamie Paul, David Merner, Glen Murray, Amita Kuttner, Dimitri Lascaris, Meryam Haddad, Andrew West and Courtney Howard. The vote will be a ranked preferential vote, much like the Conservative race.

On Saturday, a small group of members gathered at an outdoor corn boil in Emerald to swap notes and chat about the contenders. 

Martin Ruben, a former president of the Green Party of P.E.I., said he plans to support Annamie Paul, a Toronto-based lawyer with a background working with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

Green party member Martin Ruben says he plans to vote for Annamie Paul in the federal Green leadership race. - Stu Neatby
Green party member Martin Ruben says he plans to vote for Annamie Paul in the federal Green leadership race. - Stu Neatby

 

"She is one smart lady who has a wide breadth of understanding of issues internationally, nationally, locally," Ruben said.

Ruben added he also believes Paul is an effective communicator, able to explain complex social issues in personal terms. 

Anna Keenan ran as the Green candidate in Malpeque during the 2019 federal election and has conducted video interviews with all eight candidates.  

She is also planning on placing Paul at the top of her ballot, but had considered Merner, a member of the B.C. Greens, as well.

“I think we really need to bring the federal Green party leadership out of British Columbia," Keenan said.

"We can win seats here. We won in Fredericton, we can win here in Malpeque, we can win in Charlottetown."

Anna Keenan attended Saturday's corn boil in Emerald with her partner, Robert Hamon, and son, Oscar Keenan-Hamon. Keenan, who ran as the Green candidate in Malpeque in 2019, plans to pick Annamie Paul as her top choice for federal leader. - Stu Neatby
Anna Keenan attended Saturday's corn boil in Emerald with her partner, Robert Hamon, and son, Oscar Keenan-Hamon. Keenan, who ran as the Green candidate in Malpeque in 2019, plans to pick Annamie Paul as her top choice for federal leader. - Stu Neatby

 

The federal Greens invested heavily in several ridings in Vancouver Island during the 2019 campaign but elected only two candidates in that region – May and Paul Manly. Fredericton’s Jenica Atwin was the only candidate elected in Atlantic Canada.

There has been no polling of Green party members to determine a front-runner in the leadership contest. However, there are some indications Paul is ahead.

She leads other candidates in fundraising, having accumulated $186,328 as of Aug. 31, according to Elections Canada data. Lascaris, a Montreal-based lawyer and journalist who is campaigning on an eco-socialist platform, has raised the second highest amount at $112,089. Howard, a Northwest Territories-based physician, is third with $78,739.

Paul also leads nationally in terms of the number of total donors, at 1,622 to Lascaris’ 958. The fundraising totals from P.E.I., New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show a similar trend. Judy Green, a leadership contender based in Nova Scotia who dropped out of the race, out-fundraised all other candidates in that province prior to September.

If Paul succeeds, she would become the first Black woman to serve as a permanent leader of a national political party in Canada.


Leadership candidates for the Green Party of Canada:

  • Annamie Paul
  • David Merner
  • Amita Kuttner
  • Glen Murray
  • Dimitri Lascaris
  • Meryam Haddad
  • Andrew West
  • Courtney Howard

Darcie Lanthier, who ran for the Greens in Charlottetown in 2019, said she plans to place Howard at the top of her ballot. Alex Clark, who represented the party in Egmont in 2019, said he was unsure who would be at the top, but was considering Paul, Merner and Murray. 

Clark echoed Keenan’s comments about the party’s viability in Atlantic Canada.

"I think the prospects of winning … (are) greater in Atlantic Canada than anywhere else," he said.

P.E.I. Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker declined to say who he would be supporting in the race. But like others at the corn boil, he said the challenge facing the next leader will be convincing voters the Greens are more than just a single-issue party.

"I think whoever leads the Green party has to demonstrate that the Green Party is a mature party that is capable of gathering a wide swath of voters," he said.

Online voting continues this week. The new leader will be announced Saturday.

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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