Incoming Green MP Mike Morrice respects Annamie Paul's decision to resign as party leader

·3 min read
Kitchener Centre incoming MP Mike Morrice posed with Green leader Annamie Paul in downtown Kitchener on Sept. 21 during the federal election campaign. Morrice says he respects Paul's decision to resign as the party's leader. ( Josette Lafleur/CBC - image credit)
Kitchener Centre incoming MP Mike Morrice posed with Green leader Annamie Paul in downtown Kitchener on Sept. 21 during the federal election campaign. Morrice says he respects Paul's decision to resign as the party's leader. ( Josette Lafleur/CBC - image credit)

Incoming Green MP Mike Morrice says he respects the decision by Annamie Paul to resign as party leader, making her announcement Monday morning.

Morrice is one of two Green MPs elected in last week's federal election. The other is former Green leader Elizabeth May in Saanich–Gulf Islands in B.C.

Morrice, who will represent the Ontario riding of Kitchener Centre, was attending orientation sessions for new MPs in Ottawa when he heard of Paul's announcement.

"I respect her decision," he said in an interview Monday afternoon. "There was a leadership review process that the party has in their constitution and I respect that Annamie has chosen to resign in advance of that."

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner released a statement saying Paul "is an important voice in Canadian politics."

"I was proud to campaign with her," he added.

In June, Paul accused a "small group" within the Green's governing body of trying to push her out.

Paul said the allegations made against her during a meeting that month "were so racist, so sexist, that they were immediately disavowed by both our MPs as offensive and inflammatory."

WATCH | Annamie Paul talk to CBC The National about allegations of racism, sexism in politics:

Schreiner said she had a strong performance in the leaders' debate during the election campaign, and her unique challenges as leader means "many people will be asking some important questions today."

"I'm sad that systemic barriers exist in all parts of our society, including political parties," he added.

"As leader of the Ontario Greens, I cannot speak for the federal party, but I do recognize that the party I lead has more work to do to combat systemic racism. I am committed to doing the hard work to build a party that is diverse, inclusive and welcoming."

Paul faced leadership review

Paul said on Monday that on election day, the only email she received from party officials was one calling an emergency meeting to launch a leadership review.

On Saturday night, there was an announcement sent to all members of the party saying a leadership review had been launched, she said.

"I just asked myself if this is something that I wanted to continue, whether I was willing to continue to put up with the attacks I knew would be coming, whether to continue to have to fight and struggle just to fulfil my democratically elected role as leader of this party, and I just don't have the heart for it," she said.

Paul said she broke a glass ceiling by becoming leader of the Green Party of Canada, but "what I didn't realize at the time was that I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head, and leave a lot of shards of glass that I was going to have to crawl over throughout my time as a leader."

Morrice 'open minded' about future

Morrice said he disagreed with calls earlier this year for Paul to step down or be removed as leader, and agreed with Schreiner that she faced barriers and systemic racism where others do not.

Looking ahead, Morrice said, new people joined the party's federal council in August, and he's optimistic there will be a chance for them to speak up and unify the party. He said he'd like to see the council focus on priorities like the climate crisis, addressing the lack of affordable housing and providing mental health services to people.

"They need to ensure that the newer voices on the council do more to support whoever it might be that steps into that role," he said.

When asked if he might consider running for the Green leadership, Morrice said he's "open minded," but his focus is on his new role as a member of Parliament.

"My focus needs to stay there, on our community, on the priorities from right across Kitchener Centre," he said. "That work is just beginning and that really is my focus."

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