New Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul’s priorities include a guaranteed livable income, improvements to long-term care facilities and addressing the climate emergency.
With Canada’s North warming at twice the global rate, she said that the territories are “right at the centre” of the party’s plans.
“One of the things that I, and the Green Party, are very unhappy with, are the disparities between different communities in Canada,” she said. “On the climate side, the North is being impacted the worst and most quickly by our changing climate.
“Inequality breeds fragility in democracy, and so all of the things that should make life more livable, more secure – whether it’s food security, whether it’s access to broadband, whether it’s economic diversification – all of these things I have in mind when thinking about the North.”
In terms of specific policies Northerners might expect, Paul said she ran to be “the chief representative and chief spokesperson for the policies of our members.” Setting policy priorities for the next election, she said, “is a collective process.”
Paul replaced longtime Green Party leader Elizabeth May on Oct. 3. She ran against eight other candidates, including Yellowknife doctor Courtney Howard.
Paul holds a bachelor of law from the University of Ottawa and a masters in public affairs from Princeton University. She has worked internationally and domestically in non-governmental organizations, as a policy officer in the European Union and she founded her own charity to train women and under-represented minorities to run for elected office.
Paul, the first Black Jewish woman to lead a political party, is the daughter of immigrants who arrived in Canada from the Caribbean in the 1960s.
When asked how her professional and personal background inform her political decisions, Paul said diversity produces the best public policy.
“Every time we’re talking about how to create childcare, I can talk about that from the perspective of someone who has had to use it. When we talk about how they dismantle systemic racism, I can talk about that from the perspective of someone who’s experienced it, and so on,” she said.
“All of my lived experience, not just being a Black woman, or a Jewish person, but also coming from an urban environment, being the daughter of immigrants, having lived and worked abroad, being a mother, all of the things that I am, those are all things that helped me to have the unique perspective that I bring to the political process.”
Paul will compete in the Oct. 26 byelection in Toronto Centre to fill former finance minister Bill Morneau’s seat in the House of Commons. She has been outspoken that the election should be postponed until after the second wave of Covid has passed.
Paul told NNSL Media that the government’s insistence on going ahead with the election despite it being “very unsafe,” speaks to the riding’s need for “real representation” to address the issues.
To those concerned that Northern issues are distant from decision making tables in Ottawa, Paul encourages them to vote Green.
“We have been talking about and championing issues that really matter to people in the North,” she said. “The more of us there are that are elected, the more likely it is for those issues to get on the table and to have people strongly representing them.”
She joked that Yellowknifers should help start a “whisper campaign” encouraging Courtney Howard to run for the Green Party in the next election.
“That is someone that, I think everyone can agree, would be an extraordinary and very passionate and committed representative of the issues of her community,” she said.