June 17, 2021

-Global News

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is firing back at Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, stating she is “not a token” after being accused of serving as a “female shield” to the prime minister.

“I am not a token, nor would I ever accuse another woman politician of being some man’s token – that is not how a feminist treats another woman,” Freeland wrote in a statement sent to Global News.

“I’m a proud feminist who serves in a feminist government with a feminist Prime Minister.”

Freeland, Paul had claimed, had a hand in former Green MP Jenica Atwin crossing the floor to the Liberals — something she said was part of a pattern from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “undermining strong women, capable women at the height of their careers,” and of “pushing, strong, competent, capable women out of politics.”

Trudeau, Paul alleged, does this to women “with impunity.”

“I’m also going to say shame on Chrystia Freeland for her complicity in this, for being his female shield against all of that,” Paul said, speaking with host Greg Brady in an interview for 640 Toronto Thursday morning.

“She also has a role to play. She also was in these conversations with Jenica Atwin.”

In her statement, Freeland said she had no remorse about any conversations she may have had with Atwin.

“I make no apologies for having conversations with other women, with other mothers, who work in elected politics, including Ms Atwin. Supporting one another is important and certainly not shameful,” Freeland said.

“I am a Liberal, and, of course, I will always be glad to encourage leaders who work hard to serve their communities to join our team.”

Atwin left the Green Party and joined the Liberal Party one week ago, slamming the infighting among the Greens over the Israel-Hamas conflict as a “distraction” on her way out. Paul, however, said Atwin’s departure from the party was the result of conversations that pre-dated the flare-up of violence in Israel and Gaza.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he had been having conversations with Atwin for “weeks” prior to the announcement, and that the prime minister himself also spoke with her just shy of a week before last Thursday’s announcement.

However, Paul claims this timeline speaks to a plan from Trudeau to intentionally shake her as the leader of the Green Party.

“The prime minister would have known that absolutely this was going to destabilize my leadership,” Paul said.

“If you’re (saying) that you’re an ally to the Black community, and I’m the first Black person to receive this role, meet me on the battlefield of ideas, meet me there instead of in the shady backroom with these kinds of backroom deals that are going to undermine my leadership just before an election.”

Paul has repeatedly slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the last 24 hours, calling him “no ally” and “no feminist.”

“A real ally and feminist doesn’t end their commitment to those principles whenever they come up against their personal ambition,” she said.

Global News reached out to the prime minister’s office for a response to Paul’s allegations. They said they had “no comment.”

The Green Party leader has been under fire from some party members in recent months. That infighting culminated in an attempt from some members of the Green Party’s governing body, the federal council, to kick start a process to remove her as leader Tuesday night.

During the meeting, the federal council threatened her with a non-confidence vote if she fails to repudiate a former advisor in her office who many party members — including the two remaining Green MPs — hold responsible for the defection of MP Jenica Atwin from the Greens to the Liberals.

In a copy of the allegation of non-confidence obtained by Global News, its authors alleged Paul “has acted with an autocratic attitude of hostility, superiority and rejection.”

It also accused her of “failing to develop a collaborative working relationship, failing to engage in respectful discussions, and failing to use dialogue and compromise.”

“She has attended few council meetings, and when in attendance, has displayed anger in long, repetitive, aggressive monologues and has failed to recognize the value of any ideas except her own, acting in a manner not in compliance with the leader’s role and responsibilities,” read the letter.

Paul has slammed the letter as both racist and sexist.

“There are all the usual tropes … just clearly painting a picture of me as an angry Black woman, as someone who doesn’t know their place,” Paul said.

Paul added that the two sitting Green MPs, Paul Manly and Elizabeth May, deemed the letter’s allegations “so offensive, and so inflammatory” that they “disavowed it.”

Paul won the leadership in October of last year with 54 per cent of the vote on the eighth ballot. Paul’s 12,090 votes allowed her to pull ahead of runner-up Dimitri Lascaris in a race that saw 69 per cent of party members vote.

Speaking Wednesday, Paul said she feels she’s being held to a different set of rules than those her predecessor had to deal with.

“Often, when people like me are elected or appointed to positions of senior leadership, the rules of the game seem to change,” Paul said.

“Collaboration and collegiality does not mean bowing down. It doesn’t mean being brought to heel.”