Annamie Paul’s refusal to answer a question about Israel at the election debate was a reminder of her staunch anti-Palestinianism. But an omission in the Green Party platform is an equally loud comment on her international ideology.
During the recent French language election debate Paul was asked about Green Party members challenging Israeli colonization. The leader objected to the premise of the question and when pressed claimed the Greens did not have a position on Palestinian rights, which is untrue. The Green’s official position is actually pretty good on Palestinian rights and includes a call for “consumer boycotts, institutional divestment [and] economic sanctions” as a way to pressure Israel to uphold international law.
The testy exchange at the debate confirmed Paul’s Palestine pathology. Her previous refusal to repudiate her senior adviser Noah Zatzman who claimed that Green MPs standing up for Palestinian rights engaged in “appalling anti-Semitism” is what threw the Greens into crisis. As I wrote before Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the aisle to the Liberals, “If Paul doesn’t remove Noah Zatzman and shift gears regarding Palestine it may spell the end of any chance she has for success as party leader.” Events certainly seem to have proved that thesis.
Recently the Greens released their election platform. Its “International Affairs and Defence” section contains some appealing, if largely vague, language. The highlights are a call to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, convert military industries “into peaceful and restorative industries” and “assess Canada’s membership in military alliances including NATO and NORAD to ensure they are meeting Canada’s priorities of diplomacy, development, and defence.”
But an omission says more than the vague, politically neutered language. The platform ignores the Trudeau government’s planned purchase of 88 new fighter jets. This can’t be by accident as there is a growing grass roots campaign contesting the purchase and in July both Green MPs Paul Manly and Elizabeth May signed a statementcalling on the government to “halt their planned purchase of unnecessary, dangerous, climate destroying fighter jets.” The “No new fighter jets for Canada” letter was also endorsed by prominent environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein as well as musicians Neil Young, Roger Waters, Sarah Harmer and Tegan and Sara. Many other prominent individuals signed a statement questioning “the procurement of cutting-edge fighter jets … designed to enhance the Royal Canadian Air Force’s ability to join U.S. and NATO operations.”
Recently, Green Party candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country Mike Simpson raised the fighter jet issue to distinguish himself from his opponents. He told Whistler’s Pique Newsmagazine “Why is it that all three parties right now are all keen to buy $77 billion worth of fighter jets and we are struggling to get affordable housing programs off the ground that are a fraction of that?” The NDP platform explicitly endorses purchasing the fighter jets.
With all the major parties represented in the House of Commons endorsing the fighter jet purchase, the Greens should have raised this as a “wedge” issue. They could even have framed their opposition as motivated by climate concerns and the need to use our resources to transition from fossil fuels.
But Paul is a former Global Affairs Canada diplomat and her husband runs a liberal imperialist NGO. Her resumé demonstrates rock solid support for the foreign policy status quo.
Perhaps Paul has been personally well served by her pro-imperialist, anti-Palestinian ideology. It certainly seems more important to her than policy voted on by the entire party membership. But this election campaign has proved that what is good for Paul is not necessarily what is good for the Green Party.