We Must Challenge Misogynoir in Canadian Politics

Sep 28, 2021

We are saddened to hear the news of Annamie Paul’s resignation as leader of the Green Party of Canada (GPC), but evenmoreso angry at the continual discrimination, rascim, classism, sexism and misogynoir that she faced during her term as leader and led to her resignation. Those same systems will continue to harm and villainize Black leaders if we do not call them out, demand better, and provide support for Black women and gender-diverse people who take on leadership roles within our civic institutions. Annamie’s testimony of breaking a glass ceiling and feeling the shards cut her is one experienced by many Black leaders, particularly Black women, across sectors today.

From sexist and racist public narratives that painted her as a difficult Black woman, to the expectation that she would face the double-standards applied to her with perseverance and resolution, misogynoir was evident throughout Annamie’s term as leader of the GPC. The internal attacks and external coverage of Annamie’s leadership continuously undermined her character and leadership style instead of respecting her enough as a leader and a politician to celebrate or criticize her for her policy decisions and vision for Canada.

Civic spaces are not cured of systemic racism and sexism when Black, Indigenous, or racialized people take on leadership roles. Even though Annamie’s historic election as the first Black and Jewish woman leader of a political party was a symbol of inclusion for many, the truth of the matter is that we have a long way to go before our institutions can meaningfully engage and support Black women on their leadership journeys.

Civic institutions such as political parties and the Parliament of Canada must actively improve their culture, policies, and visions for a safe(r) and inclusive civic landscape to not only elect more Black women and gender-diverse people, but to provide them with the resources and support they need to thrive as well. The onus should not be on Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, particularly women and gender-diverse folks to mitigate the harm caused by the oppressive nature of our civic environments, or to challenge and change systems that were designed to eradicate and oppress our communities.

To Annamie Paul and all the other Black women who are the first and only’s, thank you. Thank you for opening doors for the next generation of leaders, speaking your truth, and showing us the importance of self respect and mental health.

Actors within our civic landscape, including but not limited to media outlets, civic leaders, elected officials, staffers and volunteers must reflect on Annamie’s time as leader of the GPC, and recognize the tokenization and misogynoir that plague’s Black women’s careers at multiple levels of our civic institutions and across party lines.

We call on decision-makers, media outlets, and our community to actively work to dismantle misogynoir and the intersecting systems of oppression to strengthen Black women and gender-diverse peoples’ ability to sustainability and continuously engage with and lead in civic spaces.