Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)

B.C.’s Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jennica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

Canada’s two remaining Green Party MPs say they have no intention of leaving the Green Party of Canada despite the “heartbreaking” defection of MP Jenica Atwin.

The Green Party of Canada Caucus, which now consists of Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly and former party leader, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May released a very brief statement in reaction to the news Atwin has left the Green party to join the Liberal caucus mainly because of ongoing internal rifts among the Greens over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

RELATED: New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin set to cross floor from Greens to Liberals

“Unfortunately, the attack against Ms. Atwin by the Green Party leader’s chief spokesperson on May 14th created the conditions that led to this crisis,” the statement said. “We (Paul Manly MP, Elizabeth May MP) have no intention of leaving the Green Party of Canada.”

Neither was immediately available for comment.

Atwin announced her decision Thursday.

“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. “It certainly has played a role.”

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 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.”

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

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. Paul had attempted to remain above the fray, saying party debate is 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 the past month.

“It’s been, in a word, distracting,” she said. “So I’m going where I can do my best work.”

The new Liberal said she had not been promised any particular role with the Liberals in exchange for crossing the floor. “We haven’t discussed anything like that,” said Atwin, a mother of two and a teacher who helped run an Indigenous education centre before entering politics.

The Greens’ stance on environmental and social policy often aligns more closely with New Democrat positions, but the NDP electoral prospects in Atwin’s riding of Fredericton appear bleak. The party won less than six per cent of the vote there in 2019.

Atwin’s aisle-crossing is 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 deals a much bigger blow to a Green caucus already struggling to stay afloat.

David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Greens, said he knew Atwin felt abandoned by 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,” he said in a statement. “She will discover that her principles will not find a home with the Liberals.”

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

When asked about her previous criticism of the Liberals over electoral reform and climate change, Atwin said: “If you looked at my voting record, my comments in the House of Commons, everything that I’ve said and done still stands …. To the voters, I would say, ‘I’m still me.’ “

LeBlanc said the Liberal party welcomes divergent opinions, even when it comes to Israel. “In the Liberal caucus, there is enormous room … for differences of opinion,” he said. “Our caucus discussions will be that much richer.”

— with a file from Cole Schisler

Just Posted

The Red Chris open pit mine approximately 80 km south of Dease Lake. The province and Tahltan will start negotiations on the first consent-based decision-making agreement ever to be negotiated under DRIPA with regards to two mining projects in northern B.C. (Newcrest Mining photo)
B.C. to begin DRIPA-based negotiations with Tahltan First Nation on two northwest mining projects

Negotiations on Red Chris and Eskay Creek mines to commence soon in accordance with Section 7 of DRIPA

President of the Tahltan Central Government, Chad Norman Day, surveys Tahltan territory by helicopter in this July 2019 handout photo. The Tahltan Nation and the British Columbia government have struck what officials say is a historic agreement for shared decision-making for the nation’s territory in northwestern B.C., a hot spot for mineral exploration. Day says the deal shows they are “getting closer and closer to a true nation-to-nation relationship.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Tahltan Central Government
Tahltan Nation, B.C. government sign agreement for shared decision-making

Deal commits the province and the northwest B.C. nation to developing a land-use plan

Tahltan First Nation wildlife guardian, Jarett Quock, above and below right, was awarded the Outstanding Individual Leadership Award by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative on June 3. (Photos courtesy Adam Amir)
Tahltan wildlife guardian receives outstanding leadership award

Jarett Quock’s contributions were recognised by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative

Taylor Bachrach, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley addresses Parliament on June 7, in call for the federal government to stop fighting Indigenous children in court and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action. (Image: supplied from Facebook)
NDP motion calling for immediate reconciliation action passes

Skeena-Bulkley MP Taylor Bachrach addresses federal Parliament

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read