Jonathan Pedneault resigns from Green Party, leaving Elizabeth May as sole leader

Jonathan Pedneault resigns from Green Party, leaving Elizabeth May as sole leader
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Pedneault gets a hug from co-leader Elizabeth May after announcing his resignation during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

The man who ran alongside Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the hopes of one day becoming the party’s co-leader announced on Tuesday he is stepping away from his current role as her deputy.

Jonathan Pedneault appeared alongside an emotional May to deliver the news on Parliament Hill, saying only that he was stepping away for personal reasons.

May said the decision left her broken-hearted.

“I would be much, much happier doing this with Jonathan because that was our plan all along,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t have ran for leadership if we hadn’t met.”

Pedneault’s decision comes as party members have yet to approve a change to their constitution to allow for a model of co-leadership. The two ran with that intention during the party’s November 2022 leadership vote.

May suggested that the party has been slower to make the change than she would’ve liked. “My own timeline would have been more aggressive from the moment when the leadership race ended,” she said.

Party members have discussed the matter in engagement sessions, she said, and have had the chance to put questions to international Green leaders who have worked with co-leadership models.

But while she lamented the fact that the membership is still conducting business via Zoom instead of at in-person conventions, May ultimately defended it as a grassroots process.

“It’s a party where the members are really in charge.”

Pedneault said his decision to resign from his role has been in the works for weeks, but declined to detail any specifics outside of stating it was for personal reasons.

Asked directly whether the delay in changing the leadership model factored in, he said the slow pace is a result of members having important discussions about the future.

“This is a member-led party. It’s normal that it takes time. It is not related to my departing today.”

Pedneault spent 14 years working in crisis situations before deciding to run alongside May during the party’s last leadership race.

His departure spells more uncertainty for the party, which is trying to rehabilitate its image after spending the run-up to the 2021 federal election plagued by internal fights over the leadership of former leader Annamie Paul.

The first Black woman to lead a federal party, Paul said complaints about her tenure were “racist” and “sexist.”

She resigned within months of the 2021 contest, when the Greens saw a drop in support to just 2.3 per cent of the popular vote.

May and Pedneault ran to replace Paul in an effort to rebuild trust in the party. May, a long-time MP, previously led the Greens from 2006 until 2019.

Pedneault does not hold a seat in the House of Commons, where Ontario’s Mike Morrice is the only Green MP other than May.

May confirmed Tuesday that a second deputy leader for the Greens, Angela Davidson, who is also known as Rainbow Eyes, is fighting a conviction stemming from protest activities in British Columbia.

The now-sole leader of the Greens also asserted Tuesday that she plans to run for re-election in her Vancouver Island riding when Canadians next go to the polls, which must happen no later than October 2025.

She said she’s up for the challenge.

Last year, the 70-year-old suffered a stroke, which she said her husband called “a stroke of luck,” because he had been without a family doctor for the past eight years and now finally has one after the ordeal.

May said she considers herself in good health and doesn’t try to push it, though she is planning to travel the country this fall to help Green candidates who are campaigning in provincial elections.

Her voice breaking with emotion, May underscored her commitment to pushing an agenda that prioritizes the fight against climate change.

“Everybody my age should. Baby boomers have f—ked this planet and we can’t walk away and leave it for our kids to fix it,” May said.

“I’m sorry I just used the F word out loud, but I think kids understand what I’m saying. I’m a 70-year-old, angry, cranky version of Greta Thunberg and am I ready? You bet.”

By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2024.

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