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In a press conference this morning, the new leader of the Green Party of Canada, Toronto-born lawyer and activist Annamie Paul, was asked by a CP reporter what differences she would bring to Parliament, to which she initially replied by air signalling a box around her face.

Paul is the first Black (and Jewish) leader of a federal party in Canada. As she highlighted during the press conference, when asked about how she hopes to attract voters in Quebec (where the party has no seats), she is also fluent in French, and aims to make the Green Party more bilingual. She followed her headshot joke with a statement about diversity:

“All joking aside, diverse representation matters. The first thing I did after my graduate studies is come back to Canada with a fellowship to create an institute focused on the issue of political underrepresentation. Because we have done an extraordinary job, we have been world leaders in attracting the very best talent from around the world. I am a first-generation Canadian, I was born here — so we have our homegrown diverse talent, as well. And we are just wasting it. That’s not just an equity issue, it is a waste of intellectual capital. And no one can afford that given the major urgent crisis that we’re facing.

“You’re going to create better public policy when people like me, and more diversity, is in the room,” Paul continued. “You’re far less likely to create a policing policy that targets, for instance, Black Canadians, if you have Black Canadians that are at the table designing that policy. So what I bring is hope. Hope to all the people that have not seen themselves represented in politics to this point. Hope that it’s possible to have a more inclusive style of politics, and I’m really excited about that.”

Paul does not currently hold a seat in Parliament but will run for the Toronto Centre seat, which has been vacant since the resignation of ex-finance minister Bill Morneau. The by-election will be held on Oct. 26.

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For more about the Green Party of Canada, please visit their website.

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