Green Party leadership candidates launch their campaigns

·3 min read
Six candidates are approved to run in the 2022 Green Party leadership race. They are (top row, left to right): Sarah Gabrielle Baron, Simon Gnocchini-Messier and Chad Walcott, and (bottom row, left to right) Anna Keenan, Jonathan Pedneault and Elizabeth May. (Submitted - image credit)
Six candidates are approved to run in the 2022 Green Party leadership race. They are (top row, left to right): Sarah Gabrielle Baron, Simon Gnocchini-Messier and Chad Walcott, and (bottom row, left to right) Anna Keenan, Jonathan Pedneault and Elizabeth May. (Submitted - image credit)

After weeks of rumour and speculation, the Green Party has announced the names of six candidates approved to run in its leadership campaign.

Two will run as independents, while the remaining four are expected to run in two-candidate slates under a proposed co-leadership model.

The party has approved both Sarah Gabrielle Baron and Simon Gnocchini-Messier to run for the leadership.

And two dual-candidate slates — one comprised of former Green leader Elizabeth May and Jonathan Pedneault, the other made up of Anna Keenan and Chad Walcott — have been cleared to run for co-leadership.

The Green Party's contest committee released the complete list of approved candidates Wednesday morning.

WATCH | Green Party hopes leadership contest will help it rebuild:

May and Pedneault are holding their launch events on Vancouver Island, while the other candidates are holding theirs in Ottawa or issuing statements.

The field of six candidates will be whittled down through two rounds of voting. The party will announce which candidates made it through the first round on Oct. 14.

The final round of voting begins immediately after and the party is expected to announce a new leader on Nov. 19.

Sam Nar/CBC
Sam Nar/CBC

A staffer who worked for former leader Annamie Paul is not in the race. Najib Jutt's application was rejected after he refused to undergo the party's English and French language testing. Jutt's appeal of that decision was also rejected on Wednesday.

This year's leadership race was triggered by Paul's resignation in November. The former leader's exit was marked by allegations that Paul — the first Black and Jewish woman elected to lead a federal party — endured misogyny, racism and antisemitism in the job.

Green Party leadership hopefuls

Candidates push back against May's candidacy

As candidates launched their campaign, May's return to the political centre stage consumed much of the media attention on the first day.

Several candidates were asked to evaluate May's candidacy. When May exited the party's top job following the 2019 election — after the Greens failed to meet electoral expectations — many analysts argued she had taken the party as far as she could.

Her opponents in the race said it's time for new blood.

"What we're hearing from members across the party is that they want a new style of leadership and new generation of leadership and a new image for the Green Party, and that's what we're going to deliver," Keenan said from Ottawa.

"Neither Anna and I are afraid of a challenge," added Keenan's running mate Walcott.

CBC and supplied
CBC and supplied

In a tongue-in-cheek statement, Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, congratulated May on her "re-election as leader."

Tyrrell was preparing a leadership campaign of his own when the federal party expelled him in July. The federal Greens said they ejected him because he violated the party's code of conduct with his controversial statements about the war in Ukraine.

Tyrrell called the current leadership contest "rigged" and "engineer(ed)" to pave the way for May to return as leader. While he provided no evidence to support his claim, he said May's participation is bad for the party.

"The return of Elizabeth May will not be positive for the party," he said. "It will take us backwards."