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First Black woman to lead a political party in Canada resigns

By AFP
27 September 2021   |   8:17 pm
The first Black woman to lead a national party in Canada said the glass ceiling she shattered then "fell on my head" as she announced her resignation from the Green Party and retirement from politics Monday.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 09, 2021 Green Party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during the federal election English-language Leaders debate in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. – The first Black woman to lead a national party in Canada said the glass ceiling she shattered then “fell on my head” as she announced her resignation from the Green Party and retirement from politics September 27, 2021. (Photo by Justin Tang / POOL / AFP)

The first Black woman to lead a national party in Canada said the glass ceiling she shattered then “fell on my head” as she announced her resignation from the Green Party and retirement from politics Monday.

“When I was elected and put in this role I was breaking a glass ceiling. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head,” Annamie Paul, a lawyer specializing in international issues, said.

That left “a lot of shards of glass that I was going to have to crawl over … throughout my time as a leader,” she said.

“It has been extremely painful. It has been the worst period in my life,” Paul admitted after her party was routed in national elections last week.

Paul became the first Black woman to lead a federal party in Canada on October 3, 2020, succeeding Elizabeth May, who led the Greens for 13 years.

Paul has led the party for the past year and tried to get elected in Canada’s smallest and most densely populated constituency, Toronto Centre.

But the 48-year-old politician finished fourth with only 8.5 percent of the vote.

The Greens faced difficulty even before the beginning of the electoral campaign, weakened by problems of image, unity and finance.

They also suffered a crushing defeat in the September 20 general election, electing only two out of 338 members to the House of Commons.

The party, which has been relatively marginal in its 38-year history, came in sixth in the popular vote with only 2.3 percent of the vote, behind the right-wing People’s Party.

Despite the “tremendous struggle,” Paul said she did not have any regrets.

“I knew that we were likely not going to do well,” she said.