On Saturday, Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul GS ’01 was elected head of the Green Party of Canada. Through this election, Paul, a graduate of the University’s Master of Public Affairs program, became the first Black leader and first female Jewish leader of a national party in Canada.
“It is highly symbolic and highly important that I sit here today,” Paul said during her acceptance speech in Ottawa. The daughter of immigrants who moved from the Caribbean in the 1960s, she noted that she wished to bring hope to “people who have not seen themselves represented in politics.”
Before pursuing elected office, Paul worked in the international criminal court at The Hague and co-founded a public policy hub in Barcelona.
In her speech, Paul recognized several key persons in her career, including her mother, a teacher; her grandmother, a nurse; and Elizabeth May, a pioneering environmentalist who led the Green Party for the last thirteen years.
Paul counted May as one of the many who “opened the door so that [she] could walk through it.”
In the 2019 federal election, May led the Green party to an increase from one to three seats in Parliament’s House of Commons, which has a total of 338 members.
Paul spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, tweeting “that the government must do better to secure the support of the Canadians Greens.”
Under her leadership, Paul said that the party will prioritize bringing social security to all Canadians amid Covid-19 and continuing to tackle “the existential crisis of our time, which is the climate emergency.”
“The climate emergency must cross party lines,” Paul told The Daily Princetonian on Tuesday.
In the past, a major point of contention between the Greens and Trudeau’s Liberals has been oil pipelines, with May previously being arrested at an anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia.
Paul’s appointment to the Green Party leadership arrives at a moment when the University is grappling with its own relationship to oil-related investments. Divest Princeton, a movement of students and alumni is “calling on Princeton to divest its endowment from fossil fuels and reinvest responsibly.” The Resources Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) is considering Divest Princeton’s proposal for divestment. The Committee is expected to give an update at the next CPUC meeting on Nov. 9.
Paul supports majors firms divesting, including the University.
“Divesting from fossil fuels is an inevitable trend,” Paul said. “Financially, clean energy has far more growth potential than fossil fuels,” and parallel to the endowment’s purpose, “it is an investment in the future of students and the planet.”
Paul also said she encourages young people to become active in environmental politics.
“You should absolutely do it. You are absolutely needed. We need the brightest minds working on this existential challenge. Many of them will come from Princeton,” she said. “There is no greater service to other people than working for the environment.”