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Green leadership race hits home stretch, winner to be announced in Ottawa Oct. 3

OTTAWA — One month before the Green Party of Canada picks its next leader, Toronto international-affairs expert Annamie Paul has widened her fundraising lead over her nearest competitor.

The contest is in the final stretch, with plans to announce the winner Oct. 3 at an event in Ottawa.

The party cancelled plans for an in-person leadership convention in Prince Edward Island that weekend because of COVID-19.

Eight people made the final ballot this week, meeting a Tuesday deadline to submit the final entrance fees and 150 additional signatures from party members.

As of Aug. 31, Paul, who previously worked as an adviser at the International Criminal Court and founded two social non-profit companies, had raised $186,326.

Montreal-based class0action lawyer Dimitri Lascaris is in second-place in the money game, at $112,069.

Almost all candidates showed some fundraising momentum in August, raising more than they had in July but Paul, Lascaris, and Yellowknife emergency physician Courtney Howard appeared to be pulling away from the pack.

Montreal-based lawyer Meryam Haddad’s campaign made a last-minute push in the final three days of August to get on the ballot. In total, candidates needed $30,000 as a non-refundable deposit to get on the ballot, with $10,000 in an initial payment in the spring and the final $20,000 due on Sept. 1.

Haddad’s campaign made pitches on Twitter in the hours before the Monday deadline, and party data show her campaign came up with almost one-third of her fundraising total of $34,000 in the last four days of August.

In a somewhat unusual show of co-operation in politics, several other candidates tweeted the pitches to help get Haddad on the ballot too, including Lascaris and former Ontario Liberal environment minister Glen Murray.

“She is a remarkable, principled advocate for social justice and transformational change,” Murray wrote. “She is close to making it to the next stage of the campaign. Let’s support her to stay in the leadership contest.”

There are some variations in platform among the eight candidates but all have embraced the idea of a guaranteed national basic personal income, and, true to their party’s raison d’etre, are calling for strong action against climate change.

Paul is also advocating for reallocating some funding and responsibilities from police services to community services such as mental health, requiring better databases to document police use of force, and making post-secondary tuition free.

Lascaris says under his leadership the Green Party would make a noticeable shift to the left on the political spectrum, arguing its efforts to be closer to the centre do not inspire people. He has also proposed instituting a 100 per cent tax on net wealth over $500 million to, as he says, create “a society with no billionaires.”

Howard, who is an expert on the health effects of climate change, wants more scientists and medical experts involved in government policies to fight climate change.

Lawyer David Merner, astrophysicist Amita Kuttner and Ottawa lawyer Andrew West are also on the ballot.

The winner will be the first new Green leader since 2006, succeeding Elizabeth May. She became the party’s first elected MP in 2011 and last fall led it to its best electoral finish with three MPs. May is still the parliamentary leader, and is expected to remain as such after the leadership vote because none of the eight candidates on the ballot is among the party’s three MPs in Parliament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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