OTTAWA — Green party leadership hopeful Annamie Paul has solidified herself as the frontrunner to win the party’s vote in October, opening up a wide fundraising gulf between herself and her nearest opponent.
The 47-year-old Torontonian has been ahead in fundraising in both the first- and second-quarter results. This week, party data show as of the end of July, Paul’s fundraising haul was almost $121,000, more than a third of the money raised by all nine candidates in the race.
Ontario lawyer Dimitri Lascaris is a distant second, with $52,610. He eclipsed British Columbia lawyer David Merner, who had been in second at the end of June, but fell to third at the end of July, having raised a total of $46,718. Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Glen Murray and B.C. astrophysicist Amita Kuttner round out the top five.
Paul, 47, acknowledges that her being a Black woman running at a time when race relations are top of mind is shaping part of the contest.
“There is no doubt that there are some people who are excited about the idea of electing a woman of colour, that’s never been done before, or a Black person, that’s never been done before, or a Jewish woman, that’s also never been done before,” said Paul. “So there’s a lot of firsts.”
The last time a Black woman ran for a federal party leadership in Canada was in 1975. Now Paul and Leslyn Lewis, who is running for the Conservative leadership, are each trying to become the first to win one.
Both were targeted recently with hateful messages during virtual debates, events the RCMP are investigating. Paul said she doesn’t know if the two incidents are related but knows the messages directed her way during a July 21 town hall were not spontaneous.
But Paul is also hoping that people see her campaign for more than that, and expressed frustration that the Green campaign is only seeming to get much attention when racism rears up.
Paul’s campaign themes are diversity, daring and democracy, and she is proud about the efforts in her campaign to bring more diversity into the Green party. But she said diversity and inclusion have to go far beyond just seeing women of colour on the ballot.
“It can’t simply be photos of us celebrating Carnival and photos of us in handcuffs,” said Paul. “When there are people in our communities running to lead national parties the best thing the media can do is to pay attention. Based on all the metrics used to gauge the Conservative race, I am leading this race and there still is no interest. But you know if someone calls me the N-word tomorrow I’m sure I’ll get a call.”
Paul’s platform includes policies to properly document excessive police use of force, implement a national guaranteed basic income and make all post-secondary schools tuition-free.
She said her anger roiled up in the last few weeks, during the WE Charity controversy, as the political theatre among politicians mostly ignored the plight of young people who can’t get jobs this summer and probably won’t be able to return to school in the fall as a result.
“These are life-and-death matters for people,” she said.
The Greens officially decided July 26 to make their October convention a virtual one, with COVID-19 making an in-person event impractical. The vote was already to take place online or through mail-in ballots, so the change mostly means switching to a virtual announcement of the winner.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press