Response to Evan Solomon’s hit job on ‘white man’ Jim Harris

Yves Engler
Jim Harris, Annamie Paul

Oct. 9, 2021

It was quite the performance. Evan Solomon’s response to former Green party leader Jim Harris demonstrates just how enamored the media is with Annamie Paul’s pro-imperialist and capitalist identarian politics.

While I have ideological differences with Harris, he is correct that Paul’s refusal to repudiate her senior adviser’s threats to defeat sitting Green MPs (over Palestine tweets) is the root of the recent conflict within the party. As a result, the Green vote plummeted from 1.2 million in the 2019 election to 400,000 and Paul received only 8.6% of the vote in her multiracial Toronto riding. Harris also correctly pointed out that Paul employed a slew of legal tricks to get her way and employed surrogates to cry discrimination through the media to pressure the executive council.

Solomon repeatedly cut Harris off and twice told him that as “a white man” he couldn’t say these things. The quintessential establishment journalist then said that Harris’ comments were why more women of colour don’t enter politics.

The interview with Harris was done on Friday but wasn’t aired until Tuesday. Presumably, CTV wanted to follow it with a condemnatory panel that included a Black woman, Black man and Jewish woman. Solomon’s initial question to Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson was “what do you make of Jim Harris essentially saying Annamie Paul was using racism to cover for her own failures as a leader”? While Harris never said this, Hudson gave Solomon exactly what he was seeking. She began by noting, “what a disgusting thing to say. What a terrible thing to say … if there was anything else [than racism] that could be contributing to this [Paul’s discord with most Greens] I’m sure she would want to name that”. Hudson has clearly not been following Paul’s actions over the past 16 months. While less forceful, the two other panelists didn’t disagree with Hudson’s assessment.

The most thoughtful response to Solomon’s hit job on Harris came from a signatory to the “Open Letter to Media from Jewish and Racialized Members of Green Party of Canada”, Black Green activist Matthew Sloly, who was complaining about the whiteness of the party years before Paul joined. (Please excuse the lengthy quote but this excellent analysis deserves to be widely read.) Sloly wrote:

“I think Jim Harris was treated very unfairly by Evan Solomon. Jim may be an old white dude but nothing he said in his brief interview was racist, especially in light of the well documented facts.

“Solomon attempted to entrap him and then take his words out of context, to suggest there was no legitimacy to attempts to remove Annamie Paul, then had a panel come on to attack him without reference to any of the completely uncontroversial facts of Annamie Paul’s mis-leadership Jim presented and no opportunity for him to give a rebuttal.

“The notion that one should accept Annamie Paul’s narrative that opposition to her leadership was entirely from white people and motivated entirely or primarily by racism is racist in its very formulation: It firstly ignores and/or denies the very existence of other racialized stakeholders within the Green Party of Canada and otherwise who’s oppression Paul colluded in when she acted as an apologist for the anti-indigenous coup in Bolivia, the racist violence of Israel’s settler-colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and Canada’s collusion in US imperialism in Afghanistan, as well as her use of antidemocratic means to commandeer the organs of communication of the GPC, violated the democratic rights of the members, their approved policies and the values enshrined in our constitution as our Basis of Unity, chief among these being Participatory Democracy.

“Are we to understand from the panel of pundits that there is no legitimacy to Greens, including BIPOC, Palestinian and Jewish members, opposing a leader who wishes to capture and pervert the party’s democratic institutions against our interests in service of a Western Imperialist and ultimately white supremacist agenda?

“I’m disgusted with how anti-racism has been appropriated and weaponized by Annamie Paul and her bourgeois libercon and identarian pseudo-left accomplices to take short-sighted partisan pot-shots at Greens. Wittingly or unwittingly, they do so at the cost of the interest of racialized and colonized people and the eco-socialist left wing of the party.

“I have a lot of respect for Sandy Hudson, but this was not her finest hour, neither as a representative of Black Lives Matter, as a socialist nor a journalist. By her reasoning, it would seem that the only ‘Black lives’ that ‘matter’ are the bourgeois ambitions of servants of Western capitalist imperialism, not the enumerable working class and BIPOC victims of its systemic racism and violence.

“Hudson fails to comprehend that, as happened in the UK Labour Party and almost happened in the GPC, the latest technique of the forces of bourgeois reaction is to commandeer identity politics to undermine genuine internationalist working class solidarity, purge the left and undermine their democracy via executive coup. This is precisely how they will come after the NDP’s left wing if they get half as close to the leadership of that party.”

Sloly’s forceful and important words should be considered carefully by progressives defending and echoing Paul.