FREDERICTON — Jenica Atwin made history Monday — capturing the Green party’s first federal seat in New Brunswick as she won the Fredericton riding by a sizable margin.
“They thought this was impossible,” Atwin said, beaming ear to ear as she stood before hundreds of cheering supporters Monday night.
“I thought I knew what excitement was waiting for these results, but now I’m even more excited to get to work as the first ever Green MP from Fredericton.”
Atwin told the crowd that New Brunswick and the world now know the Green party is a presence. Her victory comes on the heels of Green wins at the provincial level in the region.
New Brunswickers elected three Green members to the legislature last year, and this year, eight members were elected in neighbouring Prince Edward Island — making them the official Opposition in the Island legislature.
Atwin says she’s ready to fight for Green values in Ottawa.
“I will fight to protect the environment, our home and all that dwell upon it. I will fight for the water, the ocean, the rivers — our lifeblood. I will fight for the winged ones, the four-legged, the insects, the trees. I will fight for justice,” she said.
Atwin, a mother of two who works as a researcher and program co-ordinator in First Nations education, joked that the most common compliment she got during the campaign was about her long hair — something that has been a bit of a sore point. She said in high school she wanted to be voted most likely to become prime minister but instead was voted as having the best hair.
She said this campaign has proven a candidate can be a woman, a mother, an activist, a feminist, and environmentalist, win a seat in Parliament — and have great hair.
Fredericton has a history of electing Liberal and Conservative MPs, but voters here have recently shown an affinity for the Greens — New Brunswick Green Leader David Coon has held the seat of Fredericton South in the provincial legislature since 2014.
Coon said electing a member to Ottawa was the next logical step. “I think people were comfortable that it was the time,” he said. “It was the right time to do so.”
The Fredericton riding was hotly contested, with the Liberal, Conservative and Green leaders all making visits to show their support in the days leading up to the vote.
In fact Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer held a news conference last week in the same location where Atwin staged her victory party Monday night.
The Liberals had warned that support for the Greens could result in vote splitting and allow the Conservatives to win. However the Conservatives finished second, more than 1,000 votes behind Atwin, and incumbent Liberal Matt DeCourcey was third.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press