Annamie Paul downplays attempts to undermine her Green party leadership

OTTAWA—Green Leader Annamie Paul says she is confident she can do her job as a Black and Jewish woman, and that she will “root out” any discrimination that might turn up in her party. The comments come after revelations in the Star that the federal Green party is dealing with internal divisions, with 10 party sources so far describing how Paul is facing obstacles from within the organization. One member of Paul’s circle, former campaign manager Sean Yo, said the situation is “very hard” to understand without looking through the “lens of race, gender and religion.”Speaking Friday to the Star’s editorial board, Paul downplayed the impact of internal party strife and said she wouldn’t discuss the specifics of the situation publicly, even if she thought it was in her “personal interest” to do so. She said every political party has divisions and members that don’t support the current leader, but that she was elected with a “broad mandate” and believes the Greens have the internal discipline to succeed in the next federal election.“I would never remain in a position like this if I felt that I wasn’t able to do the job as the person that I am, which is a Black Jewish woman,” Paul said.Paul also said she won the Green leadership six months ago while promising to make the party the “most diverse” in Canadian politics. “Our party, as with any other party, has an active responsibility to root out hate, to root out racism, to root out any kind of supremacist ideologies,” she said. “If and when I identify that within the party, you can rest assured that it will have no place, that it is not welcome, and that those members will need to find somewhere else to go.”Yo and nine other sources with knowledge of party affairs have described a dynamic in the Green party in which Paul has been at odds primarily with a group of high-ranking officials on the party’s most powerful governing body, the federal council.Party insiders have named three council members as the source of what Yo called “significant resistance” to Paul: council vice-president John Kidder (who is former leader Elizabeth May’s husband), Green Party Fund representative Kate Storey and Manitoba representative Beverley Eert. “There has been an immense power struggle between kind of the old guard of the party and the new, sort of younger influx of new members and participants,” said one source, who described the situation in an interview Friday. That source and several others have tied these officials to May, fuelling the belief that they are more loyal to the former leader than to Paul. May has flatly described that as a “ridiculous notion.” Examples of the oppositional dynamic include the party asking Paul’s byelection campaign in Toronto Centre last year to refund $50,000 to Green headquarters during the race, and making Paul work without an employment contract for her first three months as leader, Yo said. Other sources have pointed to how Paul’s top choice for national field director in the next general election, Green organizer Matthew Piggott, was fired on March 1, and that Paul opposed the federal council decision to appoint Dana Taylor as the party’s executive director. Neither Taylor nor any of the council members named by sources agreed to numerous interview requests from the Star this week, although Eert and Storey responded by email to deny that Paul is facing resistance from inside the party. Storey wrote that “board due diligence is being falsely interpreted as resistance,” and Eert attributed the situation to a “small group” of “discontented” insiders. The revelations of divisions have angered some party members. Stephanie Coburn has been the New Brunswick representative on federal council since 2015. In an interview Friday, Coburn expressed frustration that the Star was exposing the situation instead of focusing on more positive stories about the party. She declined to discuss the dynamic inside the party in detail, but attributed the situation to “lots of ego” and a negative personal dynamic exacerbated by months of interacting remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We haven’t been able to meet together in person in a year and a half, and so I think relationships have deteriorated because of that,” Coburn said. “When you get people who are not communicating properly, you get friction and bad feelings.”Paul told the Star on Friday that the internal situation is the “least important” Green party issue she could talk about, and that the party’s goal is to win more seats and have a “larger voice in our Parliament” after the next election. “There is a lot of politics that I do not enjoy at all,” she said, pointing to a “loss of privacy,” time away from family, and stress and “toxicity” in the political arena. “I absolutely would not be dedicating years of my life to this if I didn’t believe that we have the potential for a breakthrough,” she said.Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter

Annamie Paul downplays attempts to undermine her Green party leadership

OTTAWA—Green Leader Annamie Paul says she is confident she can do her job as a Black and Jewish woman, and that she will “root out” any discrimination that might turn up in her party.

The comments come after revelations in the Star that the federal Green party is dealing with internal divisions, with 10 party sources so far describing how Paul is facing obstacles from within the organization. One member of Paul’s circle, former campaign manager Sean Yo, said the situation is “very hard” to understand without looking through the “lens of race, gender and religion.”

Speaking Friday to the Star’s editorial board, Paul downplayed the impact of internal party strife and said she wouldn’t discuss the specifics of the situation publicly, even if she thought it was in her “personal interest” to do so.

She said every political party has divisions and members that don’t support the current leader, but that she was elected with a “broad mandate” and believes the Greens have the internal discipline to succeed in the next federal election.

“I would never remain in a position like this if I felt that I wasn’t able to do the job as the person that I am, which is a Black Jewish woman,” Paul said.

Paul also said she won the Green leadership six months ago while promising to make the party the “most diverse” in Canadian politics.

“Our party, as with any other party, has an active responsibility to root out hate, to root out racism, to root out any kind of supremacist ideologies,” she said.

“If and when I identify that within the party, you can rest assured that it will have no place, that it is not welcome, and that those members will need to find somewhere else to go.”

Yo and nine other sources with knowledge of party affairs have described a dynamic in the Green party in which Paul has been at odds primarily with a group of high-ranking officials on the party’s most powerful governing body, the federal council.

Party insiders have named three council members as the source of what Yo called “significant resistance” to Paul: council vice-president John Kidder (who is former leader Elizabeth May’s husband), Green Party Fund representative Kate Storey and Manitoba representative Beverley Eert.

“There has been an immense power struggle between kind of the old guard of the party and the new, sort of younger influx of new members and participants,” said one source, who described the situation in an interview Friday.

That source and several others have tied these officials to May, fuelling the belief that they are more loyal to the former leader than to Paul. May has flatly described that as a “ridiculous notion.”

Examples of the oppositional dynamic include the party asking Paul’s byelection campaign in Toronto Centre last year to refund $50,000 to Green headquarters during the race, and making Paul work without an employment contract for her first three months as leader, Yo said.

Other sources have pointed to how Paul’s top choice for national field director in the next general election, Green organizer Matthew Piggott, was fired on March 1, and that Paul opposed the federal council decision to appoint Dana Taylor as the party’s executive director.

Neither Taylor nor any of the council members named by sources agreed to numerous interview requests from the Star this week, although Eert and Storey responded by email to deny that Paul is facing resistance from inside the party. Storey wrote that “board due diligence is being falsely interpreted as resistance,” and Eert attributed the situation to a “small group” of “discontented” insiders.

The revelations of divisions have angered some party members. Stephanie Coburn has been the New Brunswick representative on federal council since 2015. In an interview Friday, Coburn expressed frustration that the Star was exposing the situation instead of focusing on more positive stories about the party. She declined to discuss the dynamic inside the party in detail, but attributed the situation to “lots of ego” and a negative personal dynamic exacerbated by months of interacting remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We haven’t been able to meet together in person in a year and a half, and so I think relationships have deteriorated because of that,” Coburn said. “When you get people who are not communicating properly, you get friction and bad feelings.”

Paul told the Star on Friday that the internal situation is the “least important” Green party issue she could talk about, and that the party’s goal is to win more seats and have a “larger voice in our Parliament” after the next election.

“There is a lot of politics that I do not enjoy at all,” she said, pointing to a “loss of privacy,” time away from family, and stress and “toxicity” in the political arena.

“I absolutely would not be dedicating years of my life to this if I didn’t believe that we have the potential for a breakthrough,” she said.

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Confused about who can get the vaccine when? Well, it’s no wonder, given the complexity of the roll-out and sudden changes to it ….

If you are feeling like a mouse navigating a maze that changes shape almost by the hour — the parameters shifted this week for who can get a vaccine, when, where and which one — your confusion is justified.The average person should probably just sit tight for now. For Noah Fisk, 31, who has asthma and lives in a “hot spot” area of Toronto with a roommate who also has an underlying health condition, this week’s confusion began Wednesday with provincial announcements and spilled into Thursday.“What remains frustrating for me and one of my roommates — we’re both immunocompromised — we’re trying to figure out the vaccine roll-out,” said Fisk, “and it’s like game show tactics.”Premier Doug Ford, said Fisk, “gives you a little bit and we’ll give you the rest later. Like, tune in next episode. It’s unfortunate, because people like myself who are disabled and relying on the system are feeling really left behind. And we felt left behind this entire pandemic and there hasn’t been much assistance for us to begin with.“And now with the vaccine roll-out, I just feel like it’s very, very messy and disorganized. And now they’re saying, well, they’re going to do ages 18 and up, only in hot spots, and they’re going to have pop-up clinics.”For clarity on that, Fisk turned to Faisal Hassan, his NDP MPP for York South-Weston, and expects to learn more next week and, he hopes, get his first shot.Ray Lai, a software consultant in Markham who has teamed up with a group of volunteers to book vaccines for seniors, went very unexpectedly viral on Twitter in a thread of tweets in which he vented his frustration over what he calls the Ford government’s “policy by press conference” with “absolutely NO tangible information for anyone to look up online. “This leads people to jump to conclusions and get really excited at the prospect that they are next up in line. The truth is, @fordnation sends out a list of postal codes, but no actual plan to vaccinate them. Everyone sees this list, and thinks that they can start booking,” read Lai’s tweets.What happens then?Lai’s phone starts ringing with calls for help, and he finds himself having to explain “this confusing mess of a vaccination strategy.”“It’s certainly been an interesting couple of days,” Lai said when the Star reached him by phone Friday afternoon. “I didn’t realize that was going (to go viral). I like to yell into the void because no one really cares and apparently that kind of backfired on me, so, here we are.“There’s just massive confusion in every community, and Markham is just a small microcosm” of the larger problem, which, said Lai, are “action-related” announcements by the province with little or no details. Despite all the confusion, know that the sought after piece of “cheese” — in this case, a first jab of Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca — is becoming within reach for more, including younger people, depending where you live.In Toronto, people aged 50 and up and living within 53 postal code areas identified by the province as priority areas can register for a shot through the city or a provincial vaccination information line (1-888-999-6488) as of 8 a.m. Friday. Residents outside Toronto should consult their own public health units and other postal codes identified by the province as priorities. The Star also has set up an interactive graphic, where you can search by your postal code.But with priority postal codes also comes imperfection and moral quandaries. The postal code boundaries being used — geographical areas defined by the first three digits of the postal code — capture many areas with a combination of low, middle and upper income households.If you’re 50, own a detached home in an area such as Parkdale and have a job where you can work from home, you qualify under well-meaning measures now being taken in an effort to get to the most vulnerable in that neighbourbhood. Conversely, if you are in the same boat and live in an overall better off neighbourhood such as Leslieville’s M4M forward sortation area (or FSA), you do not qualify under the latest plan, and neither do those aged 50-plus with lower-incomes in that area.The new measures suddenly introduced taken together with the planned phased roll-out of the vaccine are, indeed, confusing. But Kerry Bowman, professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, lauded the moves as an atempt to react to the latest evidence.“There is a lot of confusion, and I’ve been hearing it all day long,” said Bowman.“But I think it’s great that there is enough flex in the system that they could change direction so quickly.“And the reason they did it is emerging evidence, the variants are upon us, and epidemiological evidence is rising, there’s younger people, it’s highly infectious and we have to really focus on the people that are really moving around in society the most.”On the downside of this, “it really contributes to the absolute chaos of the whole roll-out,” said Bowman, who emerged from a cocoon after

Confused about who can get the vaccine when? Well, it’s no wonder, given the complexity of the roll-out and sudden changes to it ….

If you are feeling like a mouse navigating a maze that changes shape almost by the hour — the parameters shifted this week for who can get a vaccine, when, where and which one — your confusion is justified.

The average person should probably just sit tight for now.

For Noah Fisk, 31, who has asthma and lives in a “hot spot” area of Toronto with a roommate who also has an underlying health condition, this week’s confusion began Wednesday with provincial announcements and spilled into Thursday.

“What remains frustrating for me and one of my roommates — we’re both immunocompromised — we’re trying to figure out the vaccine roll-out,” said Fisk, “and it’s like game show tactics.”

Premier Doug Ford, said Fisk, “gives you a little bit and we’ll give you the rest later. Like, tune in next episode. It’s unfortunate, because people like myself who are disabled and relying on the system are feeling really left behind. And we felt left behind this entire pandemic and there hasn’t been much assistance for us to begin with.

“And now with the vaccine roll-out, I just feel like it’s very, very messy and disorganized. And now they’re saying, well, they’re going to do ages 18 and up, only in hot spots, and they’re going to have pop-up clinics.”

For clarity on that, Fisk turned to Faisal Hassan, his NDP MPP for York South-Weston, and expects to learn more next week and, he hopes, get his first shot.

Ray Lai, a software consultant in Markham who has teamed up with a group of volunteers to book vaccines for seniors, went very unexpectedly viral on Twitter in a thread of tweets in which he vented his frustration over what he calls the Ford government’s “policy by press conference” with “absolutely NO tangible information for anyone to look up online.

“This leads people to jump to conclusions and get really excited at the prospect that they are next up in line. The truth is, @fordnation sends out a list of postal codes, but no actual plan to vaccinate them. Everyone sees this list, and thinks that they can start booking,” read Lai’s tweets.

What happens then?

Lai’s phone starts ringing with calls for help, and he finds himself having to explain “this confusing mess of a vaccination strategy.”

“It’s certainly been an interesting couple of days,” Lai said when the Star reached him by phone Friday afternoon. “I didn’t realize that was going (to go viral). I like to yell into the void because no one really cares and apparently that kind of backfired on me, so, here we are.

“There’s just massive confusion in every community, and Markham is just a small microcosm” of the larger problem, which, said Lai, are “action-related” announcements by the province with little or no details.

Despite all the confusion, know that the sought after piece of “cheese” — in this case, a first jab of Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca — is becoming within reach for more, including younger people, depending where you live.

In Toronto, people aged 50 and up and living within 53 postal code areas identified by the province as priority areas can register for a shot through the city or a provincial vaccination information line (1-888-999-6488) as of 8 a.m. Friday. Residents outside Toronto should consult their own public health units and other postal codes identified by the province as priorities.

The Star also has set up an interactive graphic, where you can search by your postal code.

But with priority postal codes also comes imperfection and moral quandaries. The postal code boundaries being used — geographical areas defined by the first three digits of the postal code — capture many areas with a combination of low, middle and upper income households.

If you’re 50, own a detached home in an area such as Parkdale and have a job where you can work from home, you qualify under well-meaning measures now being taken in an effort to get to the most vulnerable in that neighbourbhood. Conversely, if you are in the same boat and live in an overall better off neighbourhood such as Leslieville’s M4M forward sortation area (or FSA), you do not qualify under the latest plan, and neither do those aged 50-plus with lower-incomes in that area.

The new measures suddenly introduced taken together with the planned phased roll-out of the vaccine are, indeed, confusing. But Kerry Bowman, professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, lauded the moves as an atempt to react to the latest evidence.

“There is a lot of confusion, and I’ve been hearing it all day long,” said Bowman.

“But I think it’s great that there is enough flex in the system that they could change direction so quickly.

“And the reason they did it is emerging evidence, the variants are upon us, and epidemiological evidence is rising, there’s younger people, it’s highly infectious and we have to really focus on the people that are really moving around in society the most.”

On the downside of this, “it really contributes to the absolute chaos of the whole roll-out,” said Bowman, who emerged from a cocoon after teaching classes Thursday afternoon to a dose of that day’s announcements.

“So much has shifted so very, very quickly that one problem is that people don’t really know exactly where they stand right now,” said Bowman, who specializes in vaccine equity and inclusivity. “And the second problem is that I think it erodes confidence. It might create the impression for people that they are kind of winging it and not sure what to do.”

Bowman hopes the province sticks with the “spirit” of its phased roll-out of the vaccines and gets into the higher risk neighbourhoods with enough supply “to pull this off.”

Barry Pakes, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said there remains “some lack of clarity on how health units are meant to approach these hot spot areas with insufficient vaccine to actually cover them.”

That said, the strategy to “target risk areas is certainly sound, but there are millions of people in those priority FSAs in Toronto, Peel and York alone,” Pakes said in an email.

“Most health units are going to be refining their approach in those areas, restricting to age 50-plus or 45-plus in those areas to start, not 18-plus.”

Pakes’ advice: “The average person should just sit tight for the next few days. The limitation remains vaccine supply, but there are millions of doses coming before the end of April, so it’s coming.”

Even Toronto Mayor John Tory made note of the vaccine confusion and likely feels your frustration — and may also share your current length of hair. Tory, 66, has been eligible for a while and has “been on all kinds of waiting lists,” he said on CBC’s Metro Morning Friday.

Later asked by the Star if the inability of Toronto’s mayor to get a vaccine appointment is an indictment of the sign-up system, Tory said he didn’t think so.

Tory said he has been “very, very conscious” to not jump the queue. He noted that his age means he’s now eligible to get an appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at a city-run clinic, but he has chosen to get the AstraZeneca jab to show people he’s convinced it’s safe.

“When I signed up to go on these waiting lists, I did it myself on my own phone. I sat on the waiting list for some period of time and then ran into somebody who told me that, because of cancelled appointments, they end up having walk-in doses every day if you show up at the right time …,” Tory said.

“Eventually I got some time and got an appointment — you just phone and phone and phone and you eventually find (an appointment) that’s been cancelled or that somebody else had. I’ve now found an appointment and I’m going to go and have it done. That’s just the way the system works.”

Noah Fisk expects people in his “busy, busy” neighbourhood will be “scrambling and wanting to get this vaccine” now, and “I don’t blame anybody. But I’m mostly concerned about the disabled and the low-income community, where there’s limited access to all of this, and I feel like none of that is being addressed.”

Jim Rankin is a Star reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @Jleerankin

Source : Toronto Star More   

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