New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin says she is leaving the Green party to join the Liberal caucus mainly because of ongoing internal rifts among the Greens concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“It’s been really difficult to focus on the work that needs to be done on behalf of my constituents,” she told a news conference in her Fredericton riding Thursday. “It certainly has played a role.”
The defection leaves the Green party with just two lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Last month, Atwin openly challenged Green Leader Annamie Paul’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On May 11, Atwin posted a message on Twitter saying a statement from Paul calling for de-escalation of the conflict was “totally inadequate.” Atwin went on to say she stands with Palestine in demanding an end to “apartheid.”
Three days later, Paul’s senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, expressed solidarity with “Zionists” in a Facebook post that accused some unnamed Green MPs of antisemitism and discrimination.
After Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, a New Brunswick MP, introduced her as the newest member of the Liberal caucus, Atwin said she has “been at a crossroads” for the past month.
“It’s been, in a word, distracting,” she said. “So I’m going where I can do my best work.”
The Greens’ stance on environmental and social policy often aligns more closely with New Democrat positions, but NDP prospects in Atwin’s riding of Fredericton appear vanishingly small after that party won less than six per cent of the vote in 2019.
Atwin’s aisle crossing marks a small win for a Liberal party looking to tout its environmental credentials and shore up the ranks of its minority government. But the change marks a much bigger blow for a Green caucus already struggling to stay afloat.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.
The Canadian Press