The former leader of the New Brunswick NDP says a former national executive switching to the Green Party along with 14 former candidates was a retaliation move.
The group issued an eight-point declaration of support on Tuesday, encouraging Canadians to vote for the Green Party this election.
Along with the 14 previous candidates, Jonathan Richardson, a national executive member who has worked for the NDP, made the move as well.
“He’s been an inside organizer for the party for a very long time,” former New Brunswick NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie said Thursday. “He’s recruited people and those are predominantly the people who are following him.”
McKenzie says knowing what happened inside the party, she’s not surprised the move was made.
“He orchestrated to try to put his mother in as leader, and this is what he’s doing because that didn’t work out for him.
“So that’s where this is coming from, that’s who people are following over to the Greens,” said McKenzie, adding that the rebuild of the provincial NDP will be easier with a clean slate.
WATCH: NDP in turmoil as candidates defect weeks before election
In Tuesday’s declaration, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is admonished or not visiting New Brunswick since he was chosen as leader.
Despite that, the news did catch long-time NDP supporter Judith Meinert off guard.
“I was really shocked, stunned, and it kind of hit me like a punch in the stomach,” said Meinert, who says she’s supported the party for close to 40 years.
“Provincially and federally, I don’t think it’s a fatal blow… I think it’s a serious blow.”
As for political scientist J.P. Lewis, he says while people switching parties was a dramatic move, the NDP has been on the decline for a number of years and time will tell what impact it will have on the upcoming federal election.
“The battle still is between the Tories and the Liberals. This might have some fallout in terms of maybe former NDP voters who are going to park their vote elsewhere, and I think in tight races — which we might have a couple in New Brunswick — that could have an impact,” the University of New Brunswick Saint John political scientist said.
Meanwhile, in a statement Wednesday, federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the party “condemns racism” after Jonathan Richardson said racism is still an issue across the country.
A statement from the federal NDP says some nomination meetings are being held in New Brunswick within the next week. Currently, there are no NDP candidates in the province.
Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21.