Federal Greens choose Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul as new leader

Paul declared herself a descendant of slaves,

Annamie Paul won a slim majority of votes in the eighth round to slip past Dimitri Lascaris to win the Green Party of Canada leadership race.

After her win was announced at an Ottawa art gallery, the Toronto lawyer took the microphone and declared herself the descendant of slaves and an ally of those, such as Indigenous people, who are fighting for justice.

Paul noted she stands on the shoulders of female leaders like the NDP’s Audrey McLauglin and the Conservatives’ Kim Campbell, and Black female leaders like the Liberals’ Jean Augustine.

“Tonight, we have to recognize that this is an historic moment,” Paul said.

“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.”

Paul, who is Black and Jewish, 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.

She said she’s driven in politics partly by her father’s death of an avoidable infection in May, especially as we face a crisis in the earth’s climate and a planet ravaged by COVID-19.

“We must constantly ask ourselves, what is a life worth?” she said.

We’re seeing the price of recklessness in floods, wild fires, and the boom-and-bust cycles in resource-extraction industries, she said, and current politicians don’t know what to do.

“They are intellectually exhausted and they are out of ideas,” she said.

The moment calls for boldness and audacity, she said.

Nearly 24,00 ballots were cast, according to the party, and nearly 35,000 people were eligible to vote, almost 10 times the turnout in the last leadership election in 2006.

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

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

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

May was the Greens’ first elected MP in 2011 and since then the party caucus has grown to three. Greens are the Opposition in Prince Edward Island, held the balance of power in British Columbia and elected an MPP in Ontario.

Paul has been acclaimed the Green candidate for the Toronto Centre byelection being held Oct. 26.