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Monday, September 27, 2021

QP interview: Green Leader Annamie Paul on internal party struggles, first campaign, and platform release date

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TORONTO — In his second of a series of interviews with Canada’s major federal party leaders, Question Period Host Evan Solomon talks to Green Leader Annamie Paul.

Below is a full transcript:

Question Period Host Evan Solomon: Joining me now is the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul. Ms. Paul, always a pleasure to have you on the program. Let’s get the obvious question out of the way, you and I have spoken about it and you’ve answered it before, you are running mainly in the Toronto Centre riding. You failed to win that riding twice, you’re trying to win it a third time, I understand that, but you’re not campaigning with other ridings, essentially barely leaving your own riding. How do you call yourself a national party leader if you’re only working to get yourself elected?

Green Leader Annamie Paul: Evan, there are so many premises and assumptions in what you just said, I don’t even know where to begin. First, as I said, we’re going to be spending the bulk here but I didn’t rule out travelling to other ridings to support our candidates. I’ve also said many times that we’ve learned a lot about how you can support candidates and connect with voters across the country, using modern techniques. We’ve seen the Conservatives do that for instance. It’s successful and I think more authentic. And I don’t know how to put this up so that so that it sinks in, but in my case, I was elected during the second wave of the pandemic, we’ve had two waves since then. I’m in a totally unprecedented situation. All the other leaders who are running are incumbents in their riding. I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to expect that I can run a campaign in the same way that they do when I’m running under a certain set of unprecedented circumstances.

Solomon: Yeah, let’s acknowledge division in your party has made a lot of headlines. There’s been obviously the defecting MP. Now there’s a Green Party candidate in [Beauport–Limoilou, Que.] who’s attacked you on a Facebook post in the past week for not helping other candidates, I’m not even going to repeat what she called you because it’s pretty harsh. How do you tell Canadians your party’s unified enough to deserve their vote, when they are seeing that your party does not look unified at all?

Paul: Oh, we have hundreds of, again, I’m going to push back on, on the, the entirety of the question. There are several parts to it. We have hundreds of candidates running. I’m certainly disappointed to know that we have a candidate in Quebec that feels that way, but I think we can both agree, Evan, that every single one of the parties has had hiccups with, with candidates. That happens in every election, so there’s really nothing new or specific to our party there with that. And what I see, certainly in my case and in the cases of our strong candidates that are running, is that their focus is where it should be, which is on trying to win their seats, trying to connect with voters, trying to share our vision for this next phase in Canada’s, in Canada’s future. That’s all that I’m doing, you know, that’s all that I’m doing, that’s all that I see our candidates doing, and so I hope that people will take a look at the candidates running in their riding and I think that they’re going to see a person that they’d like to support.

Solomon: One way for people to understand what you stand for is to release a detailed platform, for example, on climate. I know you have said you have the most ambitious climate target compared to the other parties, cutting emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. But there is no detailed plan to tell Canadians exactly how you do that, how you recover from the pandemic. So again, what do you tell Canadians who, a couple weeks left in the campaign and we haven’t even seen your plan?

Paul: Well, even when I was running for the leadership, then even without all of the tools that the larger parties have, I was talking about those things. And during the entire session of Parliament, I mean, Greens were not waiting and I was not waiting until an election to talk about how we could protect people during the pandemic, and how we could protect them afterward, how we could address the climate emergency and launch of green recovery, and how we could do that, and how we can, you know, how we could do that during that session of Parliament and how we could do it now. So, we’ve never waited for an election to share our plans. That being said, of course we’re going to be releasing a full platform, it will be available in the next few days, but we have been talking about all of those things, Evan, for I mean, I’ve been on your show talking about those things.

Solomon: You’re just saying, just to be clear, that the platform will be released before the leaders’ debates?

Paul: That’s right.

Solomon: The country will see you in the two leaders’ debate debates later this week, what will be your key message to Canadians who haven’t met you, you’re the newest leader, but have maybe read a lot about the internal struggles, OK, we’ve spoken about it. What will be your key message in these debates?

Paul: When you watch the debate, please take a look to see if the plans that are being offered on the climate or on social policies are really going to give us the change that we need or if we’re going to just see more of the same. And ask yourselves, we elect the same people and send them back to Ottawa, can we expect anything different? Especially when we recognize we need a profound change in the culture of politics, and so I hope they will come to the debate with an open mind. I hope that we will have a chance to share our ideas with them and I hope that at the end of it, they will vote for a group of people who are ready to get to work on their behalf. I do believe that will include Green MPs.

Solomon: Alright, well we will see what happens at the big debate, and obviously for you, the first time on the national stage and in the debate. Annamie Paul, Green party leader, pleasure to have you on the program. As always, thank you.

Paul: Thank you so much, Evan.

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