September 5, 2019 6:16 pm

Some former NDP candidates in N.B. say they weren’t part of exodus to Greens

WATCH ABOVE: Former N.B. NDP Leader not surprised former candidates jump to Green Party

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MONTREAL — Some of the 14 former candidates for the New Brunswick NDP whose names were on a declaration stating they were jumping to the provincial and federal Green parties are now claiming they were added to the letter without their consent.

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On Tuesday, the provincial and federal Green parties distributed a declaration signed by the 14 former provincial candidates, as well as by Jonathan Richardson, a federal NDP executive member. The letter stated all 15 of them were supporting the provincial and federal Green parties and they “encourage all New Democrats, New Brunswickers and, indeed, all Canadians in voting for the Green Party of Canada this election.”

READ MORE: NDP exodus as former N.B. provincial candidates move to support federal Green Party

The news hit the NDP hard ahead of the October federal election. But on Thursday during a news conference in Montreal, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the declaration was false.

“What the Greens said was false information,” Singh told reporters. “What we learned is that many of the 14 said … ‘They didn’t get our permission to add our names on this letter, and we are not OK with this letter.’ ”

WATCH: NDP provincial candidates in New Brunswick move to support federal Green Party

About two hours after Singh’s news conference, the federal NDP issued statements signed by five of the ex-candidates whose names appeared on Tuesday’s declaration. The five said they remain loyal to the NDP.

“We are disappointed that our names were added to this letter without our consent,” said one statement signed by Jean-Maurice Landry, Hailey Duffy, Madison Duffy and Betty Weir.

Francis Duguay issued a separate statement, stating “I remain loyal to the New Brunswick NDP.” He added that a small group of discontented people had prepared a “coup.”

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New Brunswick Green party spokesman Marco Morency said he was given the declaration by Jonathan Richardson and his mother Joyce Richardson, two of the signatories. “I had no reason to doubt the veracity of the support,” he said.

Morency said he spoke with at least two of the five people who have denounced Tuesday’s declaration.

“The NDP made calls … to put pressure on them and ask them to take a step back and to deny they wanted to join the Green party. And that’s what we are seeing today,” he said in an interview.

Morency said that nine of the 14 ex-candidates have confirmed with him they indeed left the NDP to join the provincial and federal Greens.

On Tuesday, Jonathan Richardson, the former federal NDP executive member for Atlantic Canada, said he had heard from some potential NDP candidates who were hesitant to run federally because they thought New Brunswick voters wouldn’t vote for a party whose leader wore a turban.

Prominent NDP members took to social media to claim Jonathan Richardson had said the 14 ex-NDP candidates had quit the party and joined the Greens because they thought Singh couldn’t get elected because of his faith, which isn’t true.

Reached by The Canadian Press Thursday, Richardson had no comment on accusations the declaration was false. He said, however, his car had been vandalized and he is being called, “racist.”

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Morency called the NDP’s spin “vicious” and an attempt to “blur” the facts. But he said that in the end, nine people who were candidates for the NDP in New Brunswick’s 2018 provincial election switched to the Greens.

Federal Green party deputy leader Daniel Green said, “I fully understand the NDP is not happy with the situation. If I were in their situation I would not be happy either.”

The federal party said in a statement on Thursday that it has been able to contact Richardson, as well as seven other former NDP candidates, “all of whom confirm that their position has not changed.”

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has also reacted to the controversy.

“Indeed, it may be a horrible reality that some people will not vote NDP because they are racist. I condemn these attitudes. But it is quite wrong to attack anyone who is disillusioned with the NDP by saying that the only reason they are disillusioned is because they are racist,” she said in a statement. 

The NDP has so far failed to nominate a single candidate in New Brunswick with the federal election less than 50 days away, and Jonathan Richardson had said Singh’s lack of visibility in the province was not helping.

Asked Thursday why he has not visited the province since becoming leader in 2017, Singh replied: “It’s a big country, and I want to visit lots of places that I haven’t been able to get to yet, and I really look forward to being able to visit all this beautiful country.”

May said that she’s visited New Brunswick three times since Singh became NDP leader.

“I would like to ask Mr. Singh, since he had no seat for the first 18 months of his leadership — therefore freer than me — why he was absent,” she said.

With files from Global News

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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