Federal Green leader Annamie Paul has confirmed that she will not campaign in Fredericton, one of only three ridings in the country that her party was able to win in the last federal election.
Paul said in Charlottetown on Monday that she was worried her handling of the defection of Jenica Atwin, the Green-MP-turned-Liberal, would be a distraction for current candidate Nicole O'Byrne.
"I want to make sure that wherever I go, it is to help and not to distract," Paul said Monday. "I certainly understand that there are candidates who might feel it's a distraction for me to be there."
Paul said she had been "very transparent in acknowledging" that Atwin's departure from the Greens had created such a distraction in Fredericton.
She said the constituency is still a winnable seat for the Greens and O'Byrne, but "both she and I recognize that that is a particular race, and emotions are still running high, and it's a sensitive issue."
Atwin won a close three-way race in Fredericton in 2019 with 32.8 per cent of the popular vote, building on the provincial success of New Brunswick Green leader David Coon.
But in June she announced she was quitting the party and joining the Liberals in the wake of an internal party dispute over the Green stance on Israel and Palestine and how Paul's staff treated her.
When the election was called in August, O'Byrne said it was "unlikely" Paul would campaign with her in Fredericton because she was devoting all her time during "a very, very short campaign window" to winning the Toronto Centre riding where she is running.
Later however, there were indications from Paul's campaign that she might come after all.
Paul repeated the explanation Monday that she was focusing on Toronto Centre even as she kicked off the start of a two-day Prince Edward Island visit.
The provincial Greens are the official opposition in the island legislature and came second in two of the island's four federal constituencies in 2019.
Paul said that because she became leader during the COVID-19 pandemic and had not been able to travel much, the four federal candidates on the island with her were "the most Greens" she'd been with in one place since taking over.