OTTAWA—Fourteen former NDP candidates and a federal party executive in New Brunswick staged a mass defection to the Green party on Tuesday, just days before the federal election campaign is expected to kick off.
The group of candidates who ran in the last New Brunswick provincial election submitted their Green party membership applications at a press conference in Moncton, where departing NDP executive Jonathan Richardson explained he feels the NDP is no longer the right vehicle for progressive change at the federal or provincial levels.
In an interview with the Star, Richardson pointed to how the Greens have three seats in the provincial legislature, while the NDP have none. He said the federal party has also overlooked the province due to limited resources and a perceived low chance of winning seats there.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has not visited New Brunswick since he took over as leader in 2017, and the party has not nominated a single candidate in the province, less than two weeks away from the start of the campaign.
“My values haven’t changed. It’s just that I need to get things done, and you can’t get things done if you don’t have even have a candidate in the province,” said Richardson, who also sat on the NDP’s election planning committee.
“If you’re going to make a decision to not put any eggs in the Atlantic basket, then at the end of the day you’re going to have to live with those consequences,” he said. “People aren’t going to wave a flag that’s not given to them.”
The NDP said Tuesday that it has scheduled six of 10 nomination meetings in the province by the end of next week. Singh will also attempt to visit the province for the first time as leader during the coming election campaign.
“We are excited to nominate a full slate of candidates in New Brunswick,” party spokesperson Mélanie Richer said in an emailed statement that accused the Greens of lagging on their commitment to a prescription medicine program and for refusing to rule out working with the Conservatives in the next parliament.
“If these people are not interested in helping people make ends meet by bringing in a national pharmacare program right away and instead not until 2030, that’s up to them to explain,” Richer said.
The group renunciation of the NDP comes just weeks after Pierre Nantel, a two-term NDP MP from outside Montreal, was dropped as a New Democrat candidate for secretly meeting with federal Green Leader Elizabeth May. Two days later, Nantel announced he will run for the Greens in his riding of Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
The NDP has seen its finances erode in recent months as its fundraising returns tanked and public opinion polls suggested support for the party has stalled under Singh’s leadership. Less than two weeks away from the start of the election campaign, the party has nominated candidates in just over half of the country’s 338 ridings: 181 as of Tuesday.
By the end of last week, Conservatives had nominated candidates in 333, the Greens in 278 and the Liberals in 273.
Deputy Green Leader Jo-Ann Roberts, who is running in Halifax said the movement to her party from the NDP is likely in response to the low visibility of New Democrats in the Atlantic. In contrast to Singh’s absence from New Brunswick, she said May has visited the province several times in recent months.
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“If you’re a New Brunswick NDPer and you’re looking at this election, that’s got to be a concern,” she said.
“They’re seeing the path forward through the Green party.”