N.B. NDP candidate 'shocked' to see his name on letter declaring support for Greens
One of the New Brunswick New Democrats listed in a letter that declared 14 former NDP candidates would be jumping ship to the Green Party said he was misinformed about the letter’s intention and didn’t know his name would be added.
In an interview with CTVNews.ca, Francis Duguay, the 2018 NDP candidate for the provincial riding of Tracadie-Sheila, said he was contacted by Joyce Richardson, also listed on the declaration of support for the Greens, on Monday to ask if he’d attend a “meeting” on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a “union” between the provincial Greens and NDP.
Richardson was the NDP candidate for the Dieppe region in 2018. She formally ran for leadership of the provincial party in July of this year, but was forced to drop out early because she didn't pass the initial candidate review process.
"I told her I couldn’t go because I had a work interview," said Duguay.
That meeting was in fact a press conference in Moncton led by Jonathan Richardson, a member of the NDP’s national executive team representing Atlantic Canada who also authored the letter announcing that the 14 NDP candidates would be switching their party banner.
"Tuesday afternoon I learned through the media that 14 current NDP members joined the Green Party, to my astonishing surprise," said Duguay.
He said he didn’t know his name was on the list until Thursday morning.
"I was shocked and surprised that my name and intentions would be circulated without my knowing," said Duguay. "They used last minute tactics to pressure us."
The declaration stated that the 14 individuals on the list were disappointed by the lack of impact made by the New Democrats in New Brunswick. It also noted that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has visited the province, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has not.
Duguay has since called the Green Party to tell them he won't be joining. Four other past provincial NDP candidates on the list released a statement Thursday afternoon stating they too were added to the list without their consent.
When asked by CTVNews.ca whether Duguay was misled about supporting the move to switch parties, Joyce Richardson – Jonathan Richardson’s mother – said "no."
"The only thing I can say is he must have misunderstood," she said. "The phone call was about a press conference, and I told him that the NDP had no representation in New Brunswick and if we need to help people of New Brunswick we would have no choice but to go Green."
She added that she’s disappointed by the way she’s being portrayed by Duguay.
"It’s almost making it look like I’m making up something," said Richardson. "There is talk in New Brunswick of a possible merger and maybe they confused what I said with a merger but that word never came out of my mouth."
The New Brunswick NDP office told CTVNews.ca that the only the resignation letters it received from the list of 14 since Tuesday are from Jonathan and Joyce Richardson.
In a press conference in Montreal Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh laid the blame on the Green Party for trying to spread "false information."
"There’s information being put forward by Madame May that’s false,” said Singh. “It’s really up to Madame May and the Green Party to respond to that."
Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May refuted Singh’s claims in an interview with CTV News Channel shortly after, reinforcing that the letter was sent out first by "disillusioned" New Democrats who "regretted they felt so completely ignored by their leader."
"I never had any contact with them directly. I understand now they’re being individually strong-armed and bullied by NDP headquarters into recanting."
Her party also issued a follow-up statement stating that they have confirmed with Jonathan Richardson and seven other former provincial candidates on the list that they’ll still be moving over to the Green Party, despite alleged "pressure" to return to the NDP.
Interim NDP New Brunswick leader Mackenzie Thomason says he and his team have not placed pressure or contacted any of the individuals on the list to "have them come back to the NDP."
His party office is hoping to clear up confusion at a press conference later this evening.