Green MP Jenica Atwin crosses the floor to join the Liberals
Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin is set to leave the Green Party caucus today and cross the floor to join the Liberals in power, CBC News has learned.
Atwin is expected to make the announcement at a press conference in Fredericton later today, with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc by his side.
A leading liberal source said Atwin initiated the crossing of the floor several weeks ago when she contacted the ruling party.
The source said Atwin said he was satisfied with the Liberals’ approach to fundamental issues such as the environment and reconciliation. Atwin’s husband, Chris Atwin, is a councilor for the Oromocto First Nation.
Atwin made a historic breakthrough for the Greens in the last election – winning their first-ever seat in Atlantic Canada when she defeated incumbent Liberal MP Matt DeCourcey in Fredericton. Atwin, along with Paul Manly and former Leader Elizabeth May, gave the Greens three MPs and their largest caucus in history.
A divide in the Middle East
Atwin’s departure comes after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exposed loopholes in the ranks of the Green Party.
Atwin directly challenged Party leader Annamie Paul’s position on the conflict, saying Paul’s call for de-escalation and a return to dialogue between the two was “wholly inadequate.”
“I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End of apartheid! Atwin tweeted on May 11.
The day before, Manly tweeted that the withdrawal of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem “is ethnic cleansing.”
More recently, The Canadian Press reported that the Greens’ executive committee voted not to renew the contract of one of Paul’s senior advisers.
The adviser, Noah Zatzman, had expressed his solidarity with Israel in a May 14 post on social media that accused many politicians, including unspecified Green MPs, of discrimination and anti-Semitism, sparking an editorial campaign by letters calling for his dismissal.
Separately, two party leaders recently announced that they would step down sooner. One of them was John Kidder, vice-chairman of the party’s governing body and husband of MP and former leader Elizabeth May.
During the 2019 campaign, Atwin said left-wing voters felt “betrayed” when Trudeau broke his promise to reform the electoral system and said they now see the Greens as a more genuinely progressive choice.
“We think we are that option,” she said. “We believe that we are the only ones looking for voters looking for change and looking for better results than what we have seen in the past four years.”
She also accused Trudeau of “spreading fear” when he warned voters that a split in the Liberal-Green votes would help elect a federal Conservative government.
But she hailed her promise during this campaign to pressure the New Brunswick provincial government of Premier Blaine Higgs to fund abortions at the 554 clinic in Fredericton.
“It’s interesting that he’s never talked about it before, but support is support,” she said at the time. “I want Clinic 554 to stay open… so I appreciate it coming forward now. It would have been nice to see him during the Gallant government as well.”