New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin crosses floor from Greens to Liberals

New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin announced Thursday she is joining the Liberal caucus, two years after her historic win as the first Green party MP in Atlantic Canada.

Atwin made the announcement at a press conference in Fredericton, alongside federal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Atwin says the decision comes a few months after she found herself at a "crossroads" with the Green party.

There were internal rifts in the party after Atwin openly challenged Leader Annamie Paul's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last month.

On Thursday she confirmed the rift was a "distraction" and "definitely played a role in her decision."

"The colour of my team does not compromise who I am or what I will continue to do for this riding," said Atwin.

New cracks appeared in May when Atwin called Paul's more traditional stance on the latest round of violence in Israeli-occupied Palestine "totally inadequate" in a Twitter post.

LeBlanc, the minister of intergovernmental affairs who represents the riding of Beauséjour, N.B., said the Liberal party is impressed by Atwin's advocacy and commitment to issues, such as climate change.

"We're convinced she will make an enormous contribution to our government and the people of Canada," LeBlanc said.

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 marks a much bigger blow for a Green caucus already struggling to stay afloat.

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.

With files from The Canadian Press.