OTTAWA—The federal Green party plans to subject its next leader to a “continual” performance review crafted and conducted by the same governing body that warred with Annamie Paul during last year’s round of infighting.
The provision is contained in a new “job description” for the Green party’s next leader that has prompted concerns from at least two potential leadership candidates and a former interim leader.
Jo-Ann Roberts, who was interim leader for almost a year before Paul was elected to the position in October 2020, said the new job description — including the internal performance review provision, which the party says is meant to foster better communication between the leader and federal council — seems to limit the next leader’s authority in the Green party.
“I think this is a reaction to what they believed caused the difficulties with Annamie,” Roberts told the Star.
“They are complicating the role of leader, rather than simplifying it.”
Najib Jutt, a political strategist in Alberta who worked with Paul during the 2021 federal campaign, intends to apply as a leadership candidate in the race this year. Like Roberts, he voiced concerns about the vagueness of the performance review provision in the leader’s job description. He predicted that it will create conflict between the party’s governing body — called the federal council — and the next leader, whoever that is.
The provision spells out how the next leader must “participate in a continual collaborative leader performance review process designed and undertaken by federal council.”
“You can already see how this can be a place of future tension,” said Jutt. “This makes it feel like you’re going to be under the microscope all the time. No one can work in that environment.”
Broadly blasting the party organization, Alex Tyrrell, the Quebec Green leader who is contemplating a federal run this year, said the job description suggests officials are already gearing up for conflict with the next leader.
“These never-ending and sometimes toxic internal power struggles are bad for the party,” he told the Star. “It seems that regardless of who the members choose, there will be a continuous power struggle with the party establishment and federal council following their election. It’s almost sabotage to set the party up for continuous power struggles this way.”
The party itself, meanwhile, says the provision is less about outlining “a strict set of procedures” and more about ensuring everyone is “on the same page in terms of policy and direction.”
The wording is intended to “encourage as meaningful a conversation as possible between (the leader) and the council,” party spokesperson George Orr told the Star in an email.
“Putting this in the job description is designed to see this communication as necessary and helpful as we move ahead,” he added.
Critics of Paul’s leadership during the party turmoil last year frequently alleged she had failed to communicate with officials inside the Green organization. At the same time, Paul — who is Black and Jewish — accused unnamed federal council members of sexism and racism, and launched an arbitration process under her employment contract with the party that prevented the council from staging a confidence review in her leadership and placing her Green membership under review.
The Green party’s move to put its governing body in charge of a leaders’ job performance review is at odds with Canada’s other major political parties.
The Liberal Party of Canada only conducts “reviews” of its leader during any national conventions held after a general election in which the leader is not elected or re-elected as prime minister.
The Tories, meanwhile, require their leader to “report to, and carry out an accountability session with, delegates at every convention,” said former Conservative communications director Cory Hann in a statement to the Star. The leader must also provide a report to the party’s national council every quarter.
But there’s no formal requirement of a performance review, Hann said. “A Conservative party leader’s performance review is their election results. Good election results? No review required. Bad election results? Party members vote whether you continue in the role or not.”
The NDP’s national director Anne McGrath acknowledged that leaders are “constantly being evaluated and reviewed” when they take on the role.
Like the Liberals, NDP leaders are typically only reviewed during leadership votes at the party’s convention, though they do report to every federal council meeting.
“It seems more like a way a company would approach things,” McGrath said of the Greens’ provision. “It wouldn’t be the way I would approach it.”
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