Provincial Green leader 'profoundly disappointed' in Jenica Atwin joining federal Liberals

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Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin announced on Thursday that she is leaving the federal Green Party to sit as a Liberal. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin announced on Thursday that she is leaving the federal Green Party to sit as a Liberal. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)

New Brunswick's Green Party leader has expressed disappointment with Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin's decision to switch to the Liberals.

"I know Jenica felt abandoned by her leader in Ottawa, and this was a source of unbearable stress for her," David Coon said in a statement Thursday, referring to federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.

"I am profoundly disappointed that she decided her only option was to cross the floor, after the voters of Fredericton and Oromocto had elected her as a Green, to be the kind of strong and independent voice in Ottawa that the Green Party encourages."

Coon said he doubts Atwin will find a home with the Liberal party, making a link to former Liberal MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who quit the party to sit as independents.

Atlantic breakthrough

Atwin's win had been a breakthrough for the federal party in Atlantic Canada, securing a seat held by incumbent Liberal Matt DeCourcey for four years. It followed earlier breakthroughs by the provincial party. Coon secured his party's first seat in the Fredericton region in 2014, growing the party's seat count to three in 2018.

Atwin celebrated with Coon at the provincial party's election night headquarters in Fredericton in the 2020 New Brunswick election.

Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC
Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC

DeCourcey told CBC News on Thursday he had been considering another run for the Liberals.

"You know, things didn't happen the way that I had expected," DeCourcey said when asked about Atwin moving to the Liberals.

"But I think it's a good thing for this community to have a member of parliament sitting in the Liberal caucus. And, as I said a few times already, this community is better off today than it was yesterday."

Atwin announced her decision at a news conference Thursday afternoon alongside Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

WATCH: MP Jenica Atwin leaves Greens to join Liberals

She said recent party infighting over issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict were a distraction from issues that matter most to her constituents.

Erin Crandall, an associate professor of political science at Acadia University, said Atwin's announcement was a surprise, though it was clear there were internal issues with the party.

She said the party has been one either on the cusp of breakthrough or collapse.

She said after long-time party leader Elizabeth May stepped aside as leader, people were waiting to see where the party would go.

"This would indicate that that transition and leadership is struggling right now," Crandall said.

"This doesn't mean that in the next election, the Green Party won't be able to perform well. But it does suggest at this moment that there is a lot of internal strife that could make the Green Party's progress moving forward more difficult."

The federal party expressed disappointment in a news release, saying that Fredericton constituents had chosen a Green Party MP and deserve to be able to make a choice again soon on who represents them.

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