Let Annamie Paul do her job

Let Annamie Paul do her job
Posted on July 16, 2021 | James Mihaychuk | Written on July 16, 2021
Letter type:


Ottawa Citizen

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

We need to end the gaslighting and railroading of Black women in Canadian politics. Let Annamie Paul do her job and succeed (or not) on truly equal terms.

When a most excellently well-qualified & exemplary Black woman like Annamie Paul is being targeted, we must call it out.

Difficult situations arise in all workplaces, including/especially political parties. Yet reasonable people know that there is never only one way to respond. Very few board members, whether for-profit or non-profit, would make a sudden & bizarre leap to try to remove a leader over remarks made by a former staff member on a private social media account, not even if that person was a close associate. Certainly, the people taking that drastic step should not be representatives on a board meant to provide routine stewardship within a Carver model policy governance mandate.

Apparently real-world expectations remain different if the leader in question happens to be a Black Jewish woman, Annamie Paul. Then, it is open season on the leader. A railroading agenda can get rolled up into a big fat metaphorical snowball of vague accusations in an attempt to rationalize impeachment. Yet when we drag that snowball out into the sunlight, it melts and vapourizes, leaving behind only a little dust.

It is not heard much anymore, but there used to be a thing in Canada called a "Canadian Dainty" accent. At its best, it was the accent of distinguished people like Governor General Vincent Massey or might be heard on stage at the Stratford Festival, a sort of a mid-west version of a refined British or mid-Atlantic accent. At its worst, the same accent, manners, and mannerisms would provide the veneer of refinement and respect needed to veil virulent racism.

That "Canadian Dainty" pretense around gaslighting and betrayal is the aspect of public life that we need to end. Canada continues to be held back by white privilege, white fragility, and the dubious presumption by too many of us that performative Canadian-ness and politesse will inoculate us against accusations of either overt or systemic racism. 

There can be nothing less Canadian than insincerity, bigotry, and conspiracy. Those things were never dainty.

In 2021 certain Canadians are still trying to pillory Black women in public life. Sadly, Annamie Paul's case is not the exception. Our national media provide easy access to the stories of Jody Wilson-Reybould, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, and others.

When we exclude women of colour or simply fail to recognize and celebrate their talents and achievements, the whole of society suffers. We deprive everyone of their talents and insights. We all lose in the chill that falls on us all. 

Canadians need to end the double standards, gaslighting, and railroading of highly competent professional women of colour, including in public life. We need to let Annamie Paul do her job.


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About The Author

mihaychuk's picture

I am interested in sustainability, civic engagement and democratic renewal. You might find me walking or biking on local trails.
I'm a high-tech veteran and have lived in Ottawa since 2000. Before my work in... More