Like sharks catching a whiff of blood in the water, on Tuesday media pounced on the announcement that 14 provincial New Democrats had allegedly defected to Elizabeth May’s Greens’ federal and New Brunswick provincial wings.
Adding to the feeding frenzy is the New Democrats’ current challenge in finding enough candidates to field a full slate of 338 for the upcoming federal election. To date, the party has nominated just 159 people, barely six weeks before the October 21 federal election.
Seemingly missed in all of the excitement is the fact that only eight of the 14 are actually following through on the defection, plus Jonathan Richardson, the NDP’s executive member for Atlantic Canada.
Those provincial Dippers that are fleeing to the Greens also include Jessica Caissie, Lina Chiasson, Cecile Richard-Hebert, Justin Young, Albert Rousselle, Lise Potvin, Anne Richardson and Joyce Richardson, who is Jonathan’s mother.
Those whose names appeared on Richardson’s now-debunked list of 14 who maintain they never left the NDP – some claiming they were added without their knowledge or consent – are; Hailey Duffy, Betty Weir, Madison Duffy, Jean Maurice Landry, Will Robichaud, and Francis Duguay.
And adding a noxious odour to the shark bait was Richardson, who suggested his former party’s leader Jagmeet Singh’s turban could turn off voters.
“I knew this was going to be a major issue and I did bring that to the election planning committee,” said Richardson in an interview with CTV News on Tuesday. “That, you know, there is going to have to be some discussion about race.”
Prominent New Democrats like Charlie Angus seized on Richardson’s statements that racism was part of the breakaway group’s motivation, particularly concern that New Brunswick voters would not support the NDP given its choice of frontman.
While an NDP statement issued on Wednesday stated that Tuesday’s reporting was inaccurate, today the party declined to answer queries from The Post Millennial, or to confirm the half-dozen (noted above) who for whatever reason, made Richardson’s list in error.
Marco Morency, executive director of the New Brunswick Green Party did confirm that these six did not in fact jump ship to the Greens, and added that Jonathan had joined the remaining eight. Morency also downplayed Richardson’s comments regarding Singh.
“(Richardson’s) comments are blown out of proportion, it’s not a newsflash that racism exists in Canada,” Morency told TPM. “We all have to work together to stamp them out…obviously the Green Party is against racism. (The comments) have been taken out of context and blown out of proportion.”
However, much like the cone of silence has dropped over New Democrat comms regarding the defection, the federal Green Party is not saying if any of the NDP transplants are actually going to run in the federal election.
Green Party press secretary Rosie Emery declined to comment on the matter and promised a statement on Thursday afternoon; none has been forthcoming.
And now, what would appear a nothing burger desertion with little impact on federal candidates for either party in New Brunswick, has descended into a political bunfight over who did what and to whom.
Morency told TPM that the NDP pressured the defectors which caused the six to recant, describing it as “vicious politics”. As of publication the federal New Democrats did not respond to TPM queries about Morency’s claim.
Meanwhile, there is the allegation by Jennifer McKenzie, former NB NDP leader who claimed that Jonathan Richardson orchestrated the entire Green defection after his mother failed the NDP vetting process.
To date the federal Greens have fielded six candidates for New Brunswick’s 10 federal seats while the NDP has yet to declare any candidates in the province.