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Politics

Courtney Howard won’t run again as Annamie Paul steps down


Yellowknife doctor Courtney Howard, who placed third in the Green Party’s federal leadership contest last year, will not run again after leader Annamie Paul stepped down on Monday.

Paul’s year-long tenure, which ended in the party’s national vote share dropping from 6.6 percent to 2.3 percent in this month’s federal election, was marked by internal division and staff layoffs. Paul placed fourth in her Toronto Centre riding.

“When I was elected into this role, I broke a glass ceiling,” a tweet by Paul read. “I didn’t realize that when I did, the shards would fall on my head, leaving a trail of broken glass that I would have to crawl over.

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“We need to view the quest towards equity and justice as a relay and not a sprint. I took the baton as far as I could – all the way to the debate stage. I’m counting on the next person to take it from where I am handing it off, and to bring us closer to the finish line.”

That next person won’t be Dr Howard.

Howard thanked Paul for her service in a tweet on Monday, adding it “meant a lot to my daughters and I to have a strong, intelligent, and articulate woman on the stage.”

“Many have asked about my plans at this juncture,” Howard wrote.

“The NWT is currently being rocked by Covid-19. For the moment, my focus is on my work in the emergency department and on helping local, national, and international health communities respond to the converging health crises of Covid-19 and climate change in a manner that recognizes that on an interconnected planet, for any to thrive, all must have the opportunity to be well.”

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Cabin Radio requested to speak with Howard. A representative declined on her behalf.

Howard was third of eight contenders in last October’s leadership election, eliminated in a penultimate round of voting before Paul defeated second-placed Dimitri Lascaris.

Paul, a lawyer from Toronto, was the first Black permanent leader of a Canadian federal party and only the fifth woman – and first Jewish woman – to hold such a position.

“Considering how many firsts I represent,” Paul told Cabin Radio at the time, “considering how few women there have been, I’m hoping that I am helping to permanently turn the tide so that we’re going to see a lot more women not only running but winning, [and] a lot more people of colour running and winning.”

Paul told reporters in Toronto on Monday that a formal leadership review, which would potentially see her replaced, had been launched over the weekend.

“I just asked myself whether this is something that I wanted to continue,” Paul said, “whether I was willing to continue to put up with the attacks I knew would be coming, whether to continue to have to fight and struggle just to fulfil my democratically elected role as leader of this party. And I just don’t have the heart for it.”

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