Green Party brass move to block funding for leader Annamie Paul's riding campaign

·4 min read
The Green Party's federal council is considering holding back $250,000 previously earmarked for leader Annamie Paul's campaign in Toronto Centre. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Green Party's federal council is considering holding back $250,000 previously earmarked for leader Annamie Paul's campaign in Toronto Centre. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Green Party executives say the organization's dire financial situation means it may not be able to fully fund and support both the riding campaign of leader Annamie Paul and those of other candidates in an election expected later this year.

A motion was tabled at a federal council meeting on June 29 to hold back $250,000 previously earmarked for Paul's campaign in Toronto Centre.

The planned transfer of funds should be rescinded "until the federal council is advised of the Green Party of Canada's financial situation," says the text of the motion, as reported by The Canadian Press. It is set to come to a vote at a meeting of the federal council on July 27.

The proposal to hold funding for Paul's election campaign represents another blow to Paul's status as party leader.

Green executives recently laid off Paul's entire office staff. She is also facing a possible non-confidence vote later this month.

An internal memo, obtained by CBC News, spells out the party's worsening financial situation, warning that it "will have a very significant impact on our ability to provide support to candidates and Electoral District Associations."

The memo, which was sent last week, says party staff who were laid off recently due to the organization's financial plight likely won't be rehired until there is a "major reduction in expenses and increase in revenues."

The Liberal government is widely expected to call an election sometime in the late summer or early fall.

The Green party's spending exceeded its revenues by $105,000 in May and $130,000 in June, according to the memo.

Douglas Tingey, president of the Green Party of Canada Fund — which controls the party's financial operations — would not comment on the specific details, saying they are confidential.

"To the best of my understanding, the party remains committed to support TC (Toronto Centre) in the upcoming election," he wrote in an email late Monday.

Paul, who does not have a seat in the House of Commons, came in second to Liberal Marci Ien in a byelection last fall to replace former finance minister Bill Morneau in the riding, a Liberal stronghold. Paul came in fourth place when she ran there in the 2019 general election.

The move to halt cash flow follows layoffs last week of about half of the Greens' employees, including all of Paul's office staff. It also comes amid internal party feuds — including a dispute over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that emerged into public view when New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin defected to the Liberals last month. There are now two Green MPs in the House of Commons, including former leader Elizabeth May.

Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada
Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada

The party, its president and interim executive director have not responded to requests for comment sent Monday.

Paul, who has led the Greens for nine months, faces a non-confidence vote by federal council on July 20. That vote requires three-quarters' support in order to proceed to a party-wide vote the following month at a general meeting, where the grassroots could render judgment on Paul's leadership.

Cash imbalances are also plaguing the party, according to a report released by the fund president last week.

"Our current financial situation is not sustainable," Tingey wrote.

Spending has exceeded revenues since the fund's board of directors was elected in February, the report states. Costs outpaced gross income by $105,000 in May and by $103,000 in June, for example.

"This is due to financial decisions taken in 2019 and 2020, particularly the decision to retain staffing levels after the 2019 election," he wrote. May stepped down as party leader in November 2019 and named Jo-Ann Roberts as her interim successor. Paul won the leadership in October 2020.

The crunch comes despite a boost in fundraising under Paul's watch. The party pulled in about $677,500 from nearly 8,300 donors in the first quarter of 2021, compared with roughly $577,600 from some 8,200 donors a year earlier, according to Elections Canada figures.

The temporary layoffs last week mark an attempt to reduce staffing costs, which make up 70 per cent of the Greens' budget, the report says.

"The staff layoff decision will have a very significant impact on our ability to provide support to candidates and electoral district associations," it states.

The 906-word report also acknowledges that the cuts will "have an impact on staff diversity, equity and inclusion." The fund's board of directors has been consulting with the union on how to avoid a disproportionate impact on "members of equity-seeking groups," it says.

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