We’re full on into silly season in the House of Commons, which is normal for every year this time of year. But when you add COVID and a pending Fall election, things have been sillier (or more painful) than usual. Just today, the Conservatives started to do their best to stop the Liberal government from moving their agenda through multiple delay tactics. They’re doing this just as the Liberals say that the House is getting dysfunctional and likely could use an election. With these moves today, they’re basically making the governments point for them. It’s all short-sighted and doomed to fail.
But while that piece of unproductive goofiness is happening inside the House chamber, a big piece of news is breaking outside of it that affects most parties in the House. It’s a big shoe to drop that will not only have an effect on the current house, but on the next election whenever it does come:
Well, that’s something that caught a lot of people off-guard. That might be mostly because with everything that’s happened in this Parliament, we haven’t seen a normal number of floor crossings. But this is a big one on a few levels that will have the potential shake up the next election. This seems to be the natural consequence of the infighting and troubles that have been plaguing the Green Party for the past months. It felt like something was going to break here, and in this case, it’s the brightest new star in the Green Caucus.
Jenica Atwin’s victory in Fredericton back in 2019 was a huge moment for the Greens nationally. It was only their 3rd seat that they had ever won, and was their only one off of Vancouver Island. It was a big breakthrough on the Federal side to go with their provincial breakthroughs in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. This defection undoes a lot of that, making another win in Fredericton for the Greens highly unlikely and makes them look bad across the board. For a party trying to get a breakthrough elsewhere, this is devastating.
Add to this the fact that Atwin herself is a very impressive MP and someone who has a very bright future in front of her. She is exactly the kind of MP any party would want in their caucus, and the Greens were quite fortunate to have her there. So to see her bolt hurts that much more, turning someone who was a great asset to their caucus and turned her into a motivate opponent. For the Green team, it’s the worst-case scenario in this case, at maybe the worst possible time.
For the Liberals though, this is a coup of the highest order. They didn’t just gain some anonymous backbencher of no importance or skill. They gained someone with the abilities and stature of Atwin. Winning her over to your side is not only an affirmation of your government’s direction, it’s also a “seal of approval” of their approach to the environment. For a Green MP to go to this government automatically does that, and expect Atwin to feature prominently in that way.
Some will say for the New Democrats this is bad news because she didn’t cross to them, but I wouldn’t agree. The NDP has been clear on it’s policy about floor crossers needing to run in a by-election before joining their caucus, so that wasn’t going to happen at this time. I’d hope thought that situations like this will spark a debate in the NDP caucus about undoing that policy because it simply doesn’t make sense anymore.
But for the Greens, this is devastating, period. They already are struggling to get any traction nationally, they have had bitter infighting now for months and now this. It’s all bad news and there is no good in this for the Green Team. How exactly they will recover from this, I really don’t know. They were the party with the least margin for any error of any kind, and this loss is a very big one. I’ll be curious to see how they spin this and how they respond, because that will give us any clue to if they truly have a chance to turn this around. In the meantime, I feel that I can safely say that Jenica Atwin will have a longer career in the House of Commons than the Green Party will at this point. If that isn’t going to be the case, the Greens have a lot of work to do to make that happen. But if they were really in a position to do that, I doubt that Atwin would have left for the exits. Stay tuned folks, silly season is staying true to its name.