Green Party leader Annamie Paul debate Canada leaders

Did Green Party leader Annamie Paul win last night’s debate?

“This is kind of like the Super Bowl. If I put in a good performance on behalf of the candidates behind me, then I’m really happy for that.”

Annamie Paul has not had an easy run as the leader of the Green Party of Canada. Since being chosen to lead the Greens in October of 2020, she lost the chance at a seat in Parliament in a Toronto-centre by-election, became embroiled in controversy in June and July due to the defection of Jenica Atwin to the Liberals — Atwin was one of only two sitting Green Party MPs, and much party in-fighting (and a non-confidence process) followed in the aftermath.

At the moment, however, Annamie Paul appears to be a political survivor. Though she faces hurdles as the first Black and Jewish party leader in Canada’s history, she retained her positive as leader of the Green Party and impressed many viewers and pundits during the leaders debates over the past eight days, particularly in last night’s English-language debate. (As she is bilingual, it wasn’t just a case of increased ease with the language.)

From defending the relevance of the Green Party in Canada to opining on foreign policy, reconciliation, sexual misconduct in the military, health crises, systemic racism, Guaranteed Basic Income and, of course, the climate crisis, Paul was clear, concise and on point with her political adversaries.

Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul on Guaranteed Basic (Livable) Income during last night’s leaders debate

Though Liberal leader Justin Trudeau scored a point by criticizing her caucus management, Paul deftly undercut his stance as a feminist leader.

“I do not believe that Mr. Trudeau is a real feminist. A feminist doesn’t continue to push strong women out of his party when they are just seeking to serve… the Liberal Party has never had a woman leading,” Paul said.

Annamie Paul vs. Justin Trudeau during the leaders debate

Paul also had a notable exchange with Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet about systemic racism after he claimed that the acknowledgement of the problem in Quebec became toxic. “It became this white society against this other white society,” he said. “I’m absolutely open to the idea of discussing (systemic racism) on the quiet stage.”

Paul responded by inviting Blanchet to “get educated about systemic discrimination.”

Annamie Paul vs. Yves-François Blanchet during the leaders debate

When asked about the in-fighting within her party, Paul said, “It has been a very difficult period. And do I wish that our party had been further ahead, particularly at this moment? Absolutely. Do I believe that we have wonderful candidates running all over the country that you should consider voting for? Absolutely. Being who I am and in this position has been incredibly hard. Being here tonight was not an obvious thing. I’ve had to crawl over a lot of broken glass to get here. I’m proud to be here. I’m proud to be the first of my kind and because I am the first of my kind, I know that I won’t be the last.”

Commenting on her debate performance today, Paul said, “I haven’t read the reviews but I’m just gonna give myself a little (clasps hands over each shoulder in victory gesture, laughs) for last night, because this is kind of like the Super Bowl. If I put in a good performance on behalf of the candidates behind me — who really are what this is all about — then I’m really happy for that.”

The third and final leaders debate can be viewed in its entirety here.

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