Citing distractions, Green New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin hands on to Liberals – –

Citing distractions, Green New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin hands on to Liberals – –

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin announced Thursday that she had quit the Green Party to join the Liberal caucus, mainly due to continuing internal disagreements between the Greens over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It has been really difficult to focus on the work that needs to be done on behalf of my constituents,” she said at a press conference in her constituency of Fredericton. “It certainly played a role. “

The defection leaves the Green Party with just two lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Atwin made history in the October 2019 general election when she became the first Green MP to be elected east of British Columbia. But last month she openly challenged Green Leader Annamie Paul’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On May 11, Atwin posted a message on Twitter saying that a statement by Paul calling for a de-escalation of the conflict was “wholly inadequate.”

“I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End of apartheid! Atwin wrote.

Three days later, Paul’s senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, expressed his solidarity with “Zionists” in a Facebook post accusing some anonymous Green MPs of anti-Semitism and discrimination. Paul had tried to stay above the fray, saying the debate between the parties was healthy.

On Thursday, Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, also a New Brunswick MP, introduced Atwin as the newest member of the Liberal caucus. In her opening statement, Atwin said she had been “at a crossroads” for a month.

“It was, in a nutshell, entertaining,” she said. “So I go where I can do my best. “

The new Liberal said she was not promised any special role with the Liberals in return for her stint. “We haven’t discussed anything like it,” said Atwin, a mother of two and a teacher who helped run an Indigenous education center before entering politics.

The Greens’ stance on environmental and social policy often aligns more with those of the NDP, but the electoral outlook for the NDP in the riding of Atwin, Fredericton, looks bleak. The party won less than 6% of the vote in 2019.

Crossing Atwin’s Alley is a small victory for a liberal party that seeks to tout its environmental credentials and bolster the ranks of its minority government. But the change is a much bigger blow to a Green Caucus that is already struggling to stay afloat.

David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Greens, said he knew Atwin felt abandoned by Paul. “I am deeply disappointed that she decided her only option was to cross the floor, after voters in Fredericton and Oromocto voted her green, to be the kind of strong and independent voice in Ottawa that the Party green encourages, ”he said. said in a statement. “She will discover that her principles will find no place with the Liberals. “

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a brief statement Thursday highlighting Atwin’s “tireless and effective advocacy on priorities such as climate action, mental health, reconciliation and making life more affordable for families.”

Asked about her previous criticisms of the Liberals on electoral reform and climate change, Atwin said: “If you look at my voting record, my comments in the House of Commons, everything I have said and done still stands…. To voters, I would say, “I am still me. “

LeBlanc said the Liberal Party welcomes dissenting views, even when it comes to Israel. “In the Liberal caucus, there is a lot of room (…) for differences of opinion,” he said. “Our caucus discussions will be all the richer. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 10, 2021.

– With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax


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