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Citing personal reasons, Green Party deputy leader steps down

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Green Party Deputy Leader Jonathan Pedneault announced Tuesday he's stepping down, citing "personal reasons."

Pedneault said it had been "the honour of a lifetime" to serve Canada as part of a party he thinks exemplifies "what politics should be about."

"Collaboration, hard work, and most importantly, a commitment to this country and its citizens," he said.

He said it's something other parties could learn from, accusing the Liberals of making grandiose but empty promises about solving the climate emergency and the Conservatives of "dismantling the fabric of this country."

"Meanwhile, there is this tiny party that for 40 years has been fighting the good fight," he said. 

Pedneault – a human rights investigator, activist, and documentary maker who spent 14 years working in conflict areas he now says he expects to return to – broke the news alongside a "heartbroken" Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Ottawa.

"I'm not going to pretend I'm not unhappy," May told reporters, "but I respect him."

"I couldn't have asked for a better partner, a better sounding board, a better voice for so many core issues that face Canadian society," she said, noting a second deputy leader Angela Davidson also known as "Rainbow Eyes," will keep that title. 

Declining to offering any specifics about the nature of the personal reasons behind his resignation, Pedneault said only that it was a decision that he came to over the last few weeks, and was not because of any other job offer.

Questions linger over co-leadership model 

May and Pedneault clinched the 2022 leadership campaign on the sixth ballot as one of the double-billed co-leadership tickets in the race, but had since been operating as leader and deputy leader respectively.

That's because making a co-leader model official requires members to approve a change to the party's constitution. That modification has yet to be made, amid internal debates and delays.

May said Tuesday she remains committed to pursuing the ability for the party to have a co-leadership model going forward, but for now would continue her work as the leader until members reach a consensus.

However, the waters remain murky on that front. No date has been set for the requisite special general meeting and May was noncommittal Tuesday about which of the various co-leadership models on the table that she'd be willing to work under.

"I'll be seeing whether there's somebody logical that I can bring in as a deputy, where we could begin to demonstrate potentially that we could work towards co-leadership," she said, while expressing some impatience about the time it's taking to have this matter sorted.

"I really want us to have a face-to-face convention soon," she said, while noting it is not her prerogative to make that call.

Pedneault told reporters that the delays in sorting out the co-leadership process did not play a role in his departure.

May says baby boomers 'f*cked' the planet

After stepping down after 13 years as leader in November 2019 citing a desire for more time with her loved ones, May returned to the helm promising to re-unite the party and double-down on pushing for climate action.

Now, she says she's feeling "lucky to be alive," after a hemorrhagic stoke in 2023, describing herself as a "70-year-old angry, cranky version of Greta Thunberg," who is ready to fight for future generations. 

"The stakes are really big here. I've got another grandbaby coming at the end of October, and I feel very, very committed, as I think everybody my age should," May said. "Baby boomers have f*cked this planet, and we can't walk away and leave it for our kids to fix it."  

Her resumption of the role followed Annamie Paul's brief but tumultuous tenure at the top of the party, as well as interim periods under the leadership of Jo-Ann Roberts and Amita Kuttner.

Running again, May wants 343 candidates 

May is one of two Green MPs in the House of Commons. She represents Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C., a riding she's held since 2011 when she became the party's first elected Member of Parliament. Her seat-mate Mike Morrice represents Kitchener Centre, Ont.

Pedneault did run in the 2023 Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount, Que. byelection in hopes of securing a third seat in the House for his party, but placed fourth.

May told reporters Tuesday the party has specifically asked her not to leave before the next election. She said she is committed to running again, alongside a full slate of Green candidates, in all 343 federal ridings. 

Earlier this year, May spoke optimistically about the party's prospects for 2024 and beyond. She predicted that come the next election her party would "surprise people with electing a lot more MPs than we've had in the past, citing witnessing a high degree of "disillusionment" with the Liberals and NDP, as well as "a lot of concern" about a Conservative government.

In last month's Toronto-St.Paul's byelection that delivered a stunning upset to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party, the Green candidate Christian Cullis placed fourth.

May said Tuesday that as leadership questions plague the Liberal Party of Canada, she remains confident that the Green Party of Canada will attract more voters by offering "an authentic voice with real integrity on the national stage."

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