Green Party MP Jenica Atwin is crossing the floor to join the Liberal Party, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc confirmed on Thursday.
She was elected to represent Fredericton, NB in the 2019 federal election, defeating the Liberal incumbent MP Matt DeCourcey.
“This for us, for Liberal colleagues, for my colleagues in the House of Commons, for the prime minister, is a very, very happy moment,” said LeBlanc in a press conference.
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LeBlanc said Atwin is an “absolutely outstanding woman” and added that she is going to run under a Liberal banner in the next federal election.
The news, which was first reported by the Toronto Star, comes amid months of infighting within the Green Party, much of which focused on its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Atwin has not yet provided a reason for her decision to leave the party.
The rookie MP was the first Green Party MP to ever be elected in the east coast, a victory that had many eyeing her as a potential leadership candidate when Elizabeth May stepped down as leader. Atwin quickly ruled out the possibility, calling instead for the party to focus their energy on “bringing in new voices.”
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In late April, the Green Party had acclaimed Atwin as its candidate in Fredericton for the next federal election — meaning they had expected she would be running for them once again come election time.
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“We’re thrilled that Jenica is running for re-election in Fredericton,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul in a statement issued at the time.
“At this critical juncture in our history, the Green Party and Canada will benefit enormously from her continued presence in the House of Commons.”
The party’s infighting has been ongoing for months now. Global News obtained a letter sent to the party’s governing body, its federal council, at the end of November, which alleged a “pattern of poor governance” within the Green Party.
Former interim party leader Jo-Ann Roberts, 2019 national party campaign director Jonathan Dickie, a past president and a past vice-president were among those who signed that November letter.
“They’re having these internal conflicts and it’s really stopping a lot of their momentum,” said Dickie in an interview with Global News in February.
“I could see the downsides going into the next election where it may be more difficult for Annamie to position the party.”
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Tensions over different views among party members on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also spilled over into the public sphere on Tuesday, with some members claiming Paul’s senior advisor Noah Zatzman had been fired “due to his anti-Palestinian statements.”
“Party leader Annamie Paul should make it clear that Noah Zatzman’s reprehensible views don’t reflect her outlook on Palestinian rights by publicly expressing her support for the Green party’s official policy, which repeatedly calls for pressuring Israel to comply with international law”, said Green Party of Canada member Yves Engler in the press release.
However, when contacted by Global News, Zatzman denied that he had been fired.
More to come…
— With files from The Canadian Press
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